Can You Tattoo Over Scars?

Can You Tattoo Over Scars?

The answer to this question is yes, you can tattoo over scars. You may also tattoo over stretch marks and freckles (not the raised ones) but not on or over moles.

Should You Tattoo Over Your Scar?

Here’s a short questionnaire to see whether or not you are a good candidate for tattooing:

  1. Do you tend to scar easily? If so, it’s possible that the tattooing process may add to your scars.
  2. Has the scar completely healed? The healing process generally takes a year, and some reports state it’s a good 18 months. Your scar still has time to significantly improve. One of the things that happens with a tattoo on a scar is that any lines drawn on it thicken and look blurry. Older scars generally take the ink of a tattoo better than young scars.
  3. What type of scar is it? Is it a raised scar? Scars aren’t the same type of tissue as regular skin. Scar tissue is more sensitive than regular skin.
  4. Is your scar red? If it’s red, it should not be tattooed.
  5. Is your scar infected? If it is, it should not be tattooed.
  6. Is there nerve damage in the area of your scar? If so, the nerve damage may increase the amount of pain you feel when you get a tattoo.
  7. Do you want the tattoo to change the texture of a scar? Tattooing won’t change the texture and it won’t erase the scar.

Our scars are in many ways representative of our battle wounds in life. There’s a psychological component of scars that should be considered.

If you want a tattoo to cover a scar, here are some of the psychological considerations:

  1. Do you want the tattoo to cover the scar because you see the scar as a blemish? A trained eye will still be able to see the scar, especially if it’s extensive.
  2. Are you settling for less? Have you decided that nothing will make your scars disappear?
  3. Is your scar reminding you of a recent trauma? This is sometimes the case. If so, what types of health practitioners can you make an appointment with who can assist you with lowering the psychological impact of the event that caused the scar?

Research studies have found that there are ways to significantly decrease scars. For example, scars that are raised may retract to the level of the surrounding skin. The color of the scars may also be lessened significantly. Silicone gels or sheets are known for their beneficial effects on scars.  It’s possible you may not want the tattoo once you get good results with one of these effective formulations.

What To Consider If You Still Want the Tattoo

If you do decide to get a tattoo, make sure the artist who does the tattooing is experienced and has done tattoo art for people with scars in the past. Ask to see photos of their work covering up the scars. Since it’s possible that the scar my not take the ink, find out if the price of the tattoo covers all subsequent visits.

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  1. Julian ward says:

    I am obviously a cutter. I have been cutting my whole arm for close to 5 years. It has been a year since I have stopped. Is it possible to tat over these types of scars. Some horizontal some are vertical..,

    • Hi Julian, yes, you can tattoo over any mature, well-healed scar except hypertrophic scars and keloids.

      The tattoo pigment (ink or anything else) will not “take” well in abnormally-healed scars like hypertrophic scars and keloids. The trauma of the tattooing process can potentially also trigger further growth of keloid scars and make things worse.

      • Does a tattoo look bad over self inflicted scars? Because it’s been years since I’ve done it. And I really want them gone

        • Hi Roland, the ink “take” on any scar is unpredictable. I’d advise seeking a tattooist who has experience in tattooing over scars and ask to see their portfolio so you can get a better understanding of what you can expect.

    • Erik Brown says:

      I just recently got a scar due to self harm burning. And i heal very quickly. While i do have one tattoo. When is it okay to get a tattoo to cover the burns?

    • sukeda day says:

      scar from back survey . stiches open hole in back, can this be tattooed over

  2. I went through heart surgery in september of 2008. Would it be possible to tattoo over a scar the length of my sternum with a chest piece?

  3. Hi!
    My wife has a scar on her breast from an infection she had while breast feeding, 3 years ago. It is about 2 by 2 cm in size. It shows when she wears a bikini. Is it possible to tattoo over it? Would it be a good idea? She is not the kind of person who would normally get a tattoo, but I’m thinking in this case she may prefer it to the scar.

    • Hi Louis, thanks for your question. As long as the scar has healed and mature, she should be OK to tattoo over her breast scar. Some other things that will be helpful for her to make the scar less noticeable is to always wear sunscreen over the scar (this post will tell you why: and she should massage the scar as well (this will help break up the fibrous bands of the scar tissue to help it lie more flat with her skin.) Hope this helps!

  4. I have some ugly stretch marks on my shoulders and upper back/shoulder blades and I want to have tattoos over them. Not only to hide them, but also because the marks are unfortunately placed at the locations i would like tattooed.

    Can it be done?

    • Hi Johnwin, it can, but the success depends on the severity of the stretch marks. Stretch marks are caused by damage to the skin – loss of elasticity and thinning, especially of the dermal layer. This can lead to unpredictable “take” of the ink.

  5. My left leg has a huge scar… I cant wear anything that exposes my leg because of it…
    I passed through a surgery in this area about 3 years ago…
    Is it safe to tattoo this area???

    • Hi Fernanda, thanks for your question. When you say a “huge scar” is it raised or spread beyond its borders, or is it a regular scar just spread over a large area of your leg? This will help us answer your question. Thanks!

  6. Suraj Air says:

    I had cut on my left arm few months back and the i had a general surgery to remove it which was not successful. The scar has grown instead. It has become more raised and red.i even took steroid injection to heal it but it didnt help out. scar has become wider since then. i think its hypertrophic scar. how can i remove them? is it possible?

    • Hi Suraj, try conservative (non-surgical) treatment first:
      1) silicone sheeting
      2) steroid injection – this can be repeated in a few months if the first one helped

      If this fails, the next step would be to have the scar surgically revised by a plastic surgeon.

  7. hi ive got a 3 degree burn currently in the process of healing but i was wondering once that is fully healed in the next couple years would it be possible to tattoo over that scar? and like said its in process of healing right now i just wanna make sure that it is possible

    • Hi JB, Possibly. Unfortunately it will be impossible to tell until the area is completely healed and the scar matures. Even if the area is “tattoo-able”, there is also the issue of how even the pigment will “take” after tattooing. Scarred areas can lead to uneven “take” and often need to be re-done.

  8. Taylor Johannes says:

    I have 2 scars on my wrist that are above the skin. How can i tell if it’s hypertrophic scars or keloids? Also, if they are either one of those, what would happen if I were to tattoo over them? I don’t want them to increase in size, but I really want to tattoo over them to cover.

  9. Andrew Betcher says:

    I had a possibly cancerous mole removed from my arm and it was a keloid scar. I have since had 4 steroidal injections and had it reduced to flat. I am only 16 at the moment but I was wondering if maybe someday it would be possible to get out covered up. It is just a nuisance. It’s right on the inside of my forearm just south of my elbow. I can’t stand the sight of it and I just get so many questions about it. I just can’t stand it. Anything would be helpful. It is flat, really smooth and has other marks spreading out from it like spiders legs from the stitching.

  10. I’ve had back surgery today on the lumbar area, where I had a lotus flower tattoo, it was an outline as I didn’t have the money to have it finished at the time.
    But what now? Can it be finished in this area after disc surgery? How long will I have to leave it?

    • Hi E, I’m sorry to hear about your back surgery. I hope everything went very well! The good news is you will be able to finish the tattoo over your new surgery scar. I do however recommend you wait a year before tattooing the scar. This will give the scar enough time to mature and soften, and will make it easier to tattoo. Tattooing a scar can be a little unpredictable in terms of ink “take” and it sometimes needs to be repeated for the best results.
      Dr C

  11. Hello.. I have a question. . I had a tattoo done a while back and I didnt like it.. I tried removing it with lazer 7 times but it didnt erase.. the doctor told me I should think about removing with a surgery.. will it leave a scare ? And can I cover it with a tattoo later on ?

    • Hi Nadia, Yes, surgical tattoo removal does create scarring. How obvious the scarring will be depends on the size of the tattoo being excised and how your skin heals. You will essentially be exchanging the current tattoo which you obviously don’t like, with a scar which may or may not be obvious, and that you probably won’t like. The good news is, yes, you will be able to camouflage the scar with a new tattoo but wait a year before trying it. The scar should be as soft and flat as possible to ensure the best “take” of pigment and it takes a year for most scars to mature fully. Scar tattooing sometimes needs to be repeated for the best results.

      Dr C

  12. Hello, I have 2 keloids one in each side of my shoulders. They look kind of pinkish/redish color! I’ve been getting injections to make them flat, wondering if I can tattoo over them, they pretty flat now.

  13. I’m a cutter and have scars i want to tattoo over. But i want color in itand i’m black. Can it be done?

  14. Hi .I have had a c section 13 months ago. The doctor had made it a vertical incision. It has turned into a keloid. It is reddish and raised. I just want to have a tattoo over it because every time I see it I remember my premature baby who did not survive after the operation. (I had eclampsia). Do you think it’s possible to tattoo over it? Thank you so much.

    • Hi Ross, I’m so sorry for your loss.

      To answer your question, the keloid should be treated first. Perhaps it’s just hypertrophic – limited to the surgery scar rather than growing beyond it. If/once the scar improves and becomes softer and flatter, then tattooing may be possible at that point.

      I would recommend against tattooing over a keloid since the trauma of the tattooing process can “set it off” again and make the keloid grow even more.

  15. I am 47 now but back when I was 9 years old I had over 40% of my body burned with 3rd degree burns. Worse yet, I did keloid pretty bad. I never had any kind of cosmetic surgery as I was not done growing so they wouldn’t even consider it. Later, I did not want to risk further scarring. After 38 years I have had a lot of healing and have long since grown out of the keloid stage as the doctors had anticipated. I’m a strong confident woman BUT I have always been self conscious about my scars and still do what I can to hide or cover them up. People act like they don’t notice but I know better. I’ve read that it is not recommended to tattoo a keloid scar but wonder if it would matter that the scar is 38 years old? It’s not purple or red (hasn’t been for 20 + years but is slightly raised in some areas. I have 3 scars (right top hand, right shoulder and right leg. I’m only considering tattooing the scar on my right leg as it is the largest and ugliest. What do you think?

    • Hi Angie, you can certainly try tattooing your leg scar, but the history of keloids is concerning. I suspect you suffered hypertrophic scarring rather than keloids. Hypertrophic scars are common after bad burn injuries. These two posts may be helpful in determining which type you have:

      Based on your description it sounds like the scars have softened considerably and that you only have a few firm, raised areas left. Those parts of the scar won’t “take” the pigment well which will need to be taken into account when planning the tattoo. It’s certainly worth looking into further and a visit with a reputable artist – ask them ahead of time if they have any experience with these situations.

      • I have a similar story to Angie but my scars are on my right side. I can hide them under clothes and I did have to have two plastic surgeries to be able to grow. My scars are just white and are not raised at all so do you think i could get a tattoo to cover them up? Hoping that i can causes it really messes up my confidence.

  16. Hi. I had spinal surgery 4 months ago and had been thinking about getting a tattoo on the scar before the date of the surgery was even set so I’m pretty sure I want it. Should I wait longer than a year until getting the tattoo because of the area of the scar ?

  17. Hi I had a skin graft on a burn on my hand in 1991 is it possible to tattoo over this

    • Hi Tracey, Unfortunately skin grafts do not “take” tattoo pigment very well and the results are very unpredictable. A lot would depend on how the skin graft healed and the size of the area involved.

  18. hey i have keyhole scars from 2 different operations and was wondering whether they can be tattooed over. the 1 in question is around 9 yrs old and healed naturally and is only is probably not quite a cm long. is it possible?

  19. rachel lehman says:

    hi! i had a tummy tuck about 7 years ago. my scar has faded but is still noticeable. i’d like to get it tattooed. i have very little feeling in that area- will the tattoo still hurt and how well will it take ink? i suppose it varies from person to person, huh?

  20. JS Zukiroh says:

    Diagnosed 08/2012 with thyroid cancer. Had to have full thyroid removed and I’m left with a scar in the front-center of my neck. Knowing this is an ‘iffy’ area, would it be possible to get a tattoo of anything there? I’m not ashamed of the scar. I actually am proud of it and love that it proves I’ve got the upper hand in an ongoing battle, but I want to make it even more meaningful with a tattoo if possible. I’m thinking maybe something in the shape of a thyroid like a cool looking bow tie or even an artists rendition of a thyroid itself. I feel I should honor the scar by dressing it up.

    • Hi JS, you can tattoo over scars as long as it has completely matured. Typically this takes 2 years. You indicated that you were diagnosed in 8/2012, so I’d advise waiting the full 2 years since your surgery before moving forward with a tattoo.

  21. 6 years ago I had a skin graft done on my arm. I don’t think it is keloid or anything like that, but I ask because I know there was nerve damage. I can’t feel anything in that area because the damage extended through all the skin layers. It even cut through the fat so it dips in. It’s no longer red, indicating it has probably healed as much as it ever will. I’m also unsure if it’s safe since the skin cannot produce it’s own natural oils. I have to put lotion over it every day at least once a day.

  22. Mark Ricketts says:

    I have a scar on my left arm from a burn which happened last year, the scar is pinky translucent colour, what’s the likelihood of being able to tattoo over this? I can attach a picture via email if needed, thanks!

  23. Can you tattoo over a acne scars ???

  24. My wife her leg lengthened as a child and had 2inches added for length. the 2 scares are 1/2inch wide and 12 to 14 long with pin holes. Will they take the ink.

    • Hi Ricky, like any scar… it depends on how the scars have healed and how close they are to normal skin in terms of thickness, elasticity and color. Tattooing any scar is very unpredictable in terms of “take”.

      Scars that result from stretching typically have a thinner dermal layer. During tattooing, ink is injected into this layer. If the dermis is very thin, the ink may not “take” as well and the results can be even more unpredictable.

  25. Hey I had an emergency appendectomy June 2012 I have a 6/7 inch long 1 inch wide incision just below my belly button and it really irks me. I used to always take my shirt off. Now I won’t even go to the beach without a tank top. I really want to do a big torso piece. And cover it. It’s flat, no kind of trouble with it post op. What would I be looking at pain wise and should I wait?

    • Hi Damien, scars take a full 2 years to completely heal. You should wait until June 2014 to begin looking into a tattoo. Tattoo ink is unpredictable in terms of “take” when it comes to scars. I’d advise to go to a tattooist who has experience tattooing over scars.

  26. Hi, so I just got a tattoo and the scab took off lots of the color so now its all blotchy. In some areas the scab left a shiny thick, but not raised scars. Can this be fixed or touched up?

  27. I have 3 degree burns and 2nd degree burns , is it posssible to tattoo some of these scars? My accident was 2003

  28. booboo baabaa says:

    Can ppl put a tattoo over a herpes lesion?
    There is a lesion on the butt cheek tht leaves a dark spot and from time to time it acts up.
    Is it ok to place a tattoo on the area?

    • Hi there, tattooing over herpes lesions is a very bad idea for many reasons. It can encourage new lesions forming, and scarring and tattoo pigment “take” are completely unpredictable. The comment from Branden was actually in response to a question we asked him about his burn scars earlier in the comment thread.

  29. Yes in some places , I got the tattoos and they seem to be doing good ,

  30. can you tattoo over scars that are caused my burns as im a chef i have a few scars on my arms and i really want a full sleeve tattoo i just want to know if its possible to tattoo over burns once they healed

    • Hi Carnage,
      Yes, you can. If the burns were superficial, they healed well, and you didn’t need surgery (like skin grafts for example), then the tattoo should “take” well. Very superficial burns tend to heal very well with only minor color changes that are easily covered with tattooing. Thicker (deeper) burns can lead to thicker skin once healed, with a different texture compared to uninjured skin. That can influence how the tattoo takes and make results unpredictable.

  31. Hi, would it be possible to get a well-healed scar on my back/spine area that was from a mole removal tattooed to look like a mole again? Would it look authentic or just like an awkward brown spot?

    • Hi Carly, we’d recommend speaking to a few different tattooists in your area and ask to look at their portfolio for the type of tattoo you are looking for. That way you can determine if you feel comfortable with the way it will look.

  32. Hi, I had some eczema on my arm near my elbow and when I went on Holliday it scabbed over and when I went in the pool it all peeled off and ever since it has showed a white scar where it had been, it came back once the eczema so I got prescribed some steroid cream and it cleared it up. This has happened over 2 years ago so it has matured but will I be able to tattoo over it as I’m wanting a sleeve.


  33. My daughter has a small scar going through her eyebrow from a fall requiring stitches 2 years ago. She has very dark hair and light skin so the scar and lack of eyebrow hair are noticeable. Ca n she get a tattoo to fill the small area with color so it blends her eyebrow hair? She could use makeup, but a permanent fix would be nice. How old does she need to be?

    • Medically speaking she can have a tattoo whenever she and you feel comfortable, with parental consent if she is underage. Another option is scar revision by a board certified plastic surgeon. Some scars can be revised in such a way that hair can grow though the new scar thereby camouflaging it better.

      • I’ve had this scar on my finger for atleast 15 years now, it’s sorta raised and I wanted to get a tattoo of a bow so it’ll be less noticeable and if noticed cuter. I can’t do anything else to heal it other than surgery and I don’t want to take that route. I’m sure I can get tattoo’d over it I’m just scared that it’ll look bad and totally noticeable that it’s raised… Any advice?

        • Hi Carly, with a raised scar there is the possibility that the ink may have unpredictable take. Definitely research different tattooists in your area to see if they have experience tattooing over scars. Ask to see their portfolio of a tattoo over a scar similar to your own to have a better understanding of what your outcome may be.

  34. I also was burned when I was 3 years old and I am now 47 I was burned worse thena 3rd burn ,, now my question is on both my legs they had done skin grafts years ago and there on both legs ,,, cause its been so many years ago can they be tattooed over ?

    • Hi Chris, tattooing skin grafts is very unpredictable. We don’t recommend it. A tattoo “takes” because the ink is injected into the the dermal layer of the skin. Skin grafts have a very thin layer of dermis. Tattooing a skin graft is not only unpredictable in terms of results, but could theoretically injure the skin graft and create a wound.

  35. I want to get a tattoo over my scar where I had to get stitches because I will be 6 months self-harm free. Will it mess my tattoo up if I don’t wait longer?

  36. Hi Andrea, that’s great news to hear you are 6 months self-harm free! As for the scar, it is still relatively new and still needs to mature before considering a tattoo. This post explains in detail how a scar matures, also that it takes 1-2 years for this to happen: Once your scar has matured, you should seek a tattooist who has experience in tattooing over scars.

  37. Julie-Anne says:

    Hi, when I was younger, roughly about 11-12, in 2008 I was involved in a quad bike accident which had either burnt or torn a massive gash out of my lower leg which then I had to undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts to fix up my leg pretty much. It looks quite normal and isn’t that noticeable, but the memory of the scar still continues to traumatise me, which is why I am considering getting a tattoo over it. Now in 2014, I am 18 years old, but I am still cautious as to whether my scar/skin can handle a tattoo. The actual skin graft, I think is fine, but I have a little bit of a lumpy scar tissue remaining just around the skin graft and I have a softer scar tissue where the stitches were made. So, to make a ling story short, would it be okay to tattoo over the variation of different scar tissues?

    • Hi Julie-Anne, Yes, but avoid the skin grafted areas as most skin grafts aren’t thick enough to “take” the tattoo ink. The dermal skin layer in the important layer for tattooing. The ink is injected into the dermis. Skin grafts usually have a very thin dermal layer so tattooing a skin graft isn’t recommended.

  38. I have an inch and a half long scar parallel to my hairline. I have jet black hair so a white scar shows through and I’m debating on wether to tattoo over it or not. I would tell the tattoo artist to basically make it look like hair follicles not a solid black line. What do you advise for a raised scalp scar? How painful would that be?

    • Hi Brandon, Tattooing the scar with “hair follicles” probably won’t help camouflage the problem as much as you’re hoping. Scars in hair-bearing skin, like the scalp, are usually obvious because of the way the hair parts on either side of the scar and because the scar itself doesn’t grow hair. The best way to camouflage the scar is to have a scar revision by a board-certified plastic surgeon. The scar can be “redone” in a way that encourages new hair to grow through the scar.

  39. When my son was born, I had 12 staples securing a central IV line into my right wrist. He only lived 12 days. The staple marks scarred into 12 small lines. However, they have since faded away with time. I’ve got multiple sclerosis, and I would like the scars “put back”, so I don’t forget. Is that possible, to mimic an old scar?

    • Hi Amanda, I’m sorry for your loss. As for wanting to “put back” the look of the scars on your wrist, a good tattoo artist may be able to pull that off. Some artists can even do 3D tattoos. You may want to look around various tattooists in your area and look through their portfolios, as well as talk to them about what you are looking for to see if they have the experience needed to do it before deciding upon which one to commit to. Good luck!

  40. hi I got a tattoo on my am and there was a small patch of ezxma which wasn’t 2 bad , now it seems the ink is just peeling off that area is there anything I can do to stop this ?

  41. I am in the millitary stationed in the Middle East, I’m going home on leave soon, I got my small pox shot which leaves a scar could I get a tattoo over that type of scar?

  42. I have back scars from acne some are faded others are a darker in color. They are not raised which i think would be a plus. Is it possible to get a tattoo over them. There are many small ones near my upper back. Just angry now i cant go swimming because its so embarrasing.

  43. I used to self harm and on my right thigh, there are quite a few big, deep scars. It has been about a year, give or take from when i did them. They have healed and is no longer red or scab up or anything and I was wondering if it was possible to tattoo over it and if it is, would the scars make the tattoo look deformed or give the tattoo a warped kind of look?
    I want a thigh piece to cover it up, mainly because I want to be able to go out wearing something other than jeans or basketball shorts without having people stare and ask about my leg. But i just wanted to know if getting a tattoo piece over it would be a good idea or not?

    • Hi Paula, yes, you can tattoo over self-harm scars. However, it is possible they will have a “warped look” as you mentioned. Scarring can lead to unpredictable tattoo “take” and an uneven look. Depending on the tattoo and colors you choose, you may need a touch-up for the best results.

  44. First off I’d like to say that this post is exactly what I was looking for and really useful as I have a two scarred areas I’m looking at tattooing over. Thank you.
    Also, I was wondering about tattooing over a scar that might be opened up again.
    I had a c section with my daughter nearly five years ago. The scar is visible when my skin pales, but when I get tanner it isn’t that visible. I was actually wanting to have the scar itself tattooed. Like the line traced in ink. I’m proud of my scar, it reminds me of my beautiful baby girl and it shows the world (to me) that she left her mark on me from the moment she was born. However, I haven’t quit yet resigned myself to NOT having anymore kids. If I have another child, I’ll be forced to have a c section again.
    Would it be better to wait until I’m sure I won’t be having anymore kids? Or would it be okay to go ahead and have the scar tattooed? If I did have it tattooed would it become an issue later on if I did have another child as far as the healing of the next c section scar?

    • Hi Cat, if you are unsure about potentially getting pregnant again, it is better to wait until you are sure. You can tattoo now if you really want to – not a big deal in terms of future c-section, however the tattoo would likely be ruined, but can always be redone. The tattoo itself wouldn’t interfere medically.

  45. Okay so I had major back surgery last may and I wanted these scars covered up eventually, in the process of healing I ended up with Mersa in the wounds so now the scars are even wider then I was expecting.. So if I even could get the scars covered about how long should I wait.. They’re about 1inch long and 1 inch wide and 8 of them on my back and go through a tattoo I had already planned on getting covered up

  46. My 18 yr old daughter had severe eczema as a child and has extensive scarring on her ankles. It’s flat, looks like normal skin, but when she’s in the sun you can see the large patches of white, giving her a mottled look. She has been thinking about getting a tattoo on her ankles to cover it up – she just wants something simple to give it a defined shape, like white flowers – but I’m not sure how well the scar tissue will take the ink. Her eczema is under control now, and she hasn’t had a flare-up in over a year – and in different areas than her ankles. I’m sure that matters.

    Thanks for your help and advice :)

    • Hi Chris, The most important thing, as you mentioned, is that she hasn’t had a flare-up for a while. Tattooing in an area where the eczema is still “active” is a bad idea. Scar tissue can be tattooed but the results can be a little unpredictable in terms of ink “take”. Touch-ups are sometimes needed to even things out and get the best results.

  47. giulia giovannelli says:

    Hi there.
    I have been asked to perform my first tattoo-scar-cover up.
    the scar is on the left inner arm very close to writs.
    is around 4,5 cm long and it has been made only 6 months ago.
    The client told me when she squeezes it she still feels it.
    It is kinda of red on th eline and on the stiches lines but i would say a dark shade of red, like healed skin.
    What should i do?

    • Hi Giulia, Wait. It’s too early. Tell your client you recommend waiting at least another 6 months. Scars can take 1 – 2 years to fully heal and soften. The scar will be much easier to tattoo once it has matured though the final result will always be a little unpredictable. Sometimes a touch up is needed to even out the colors more.

  48. Early september 2012 I received a deep 3rd degree burn on my lower calf from a motorcycle accident. It’s more or less all healed up (still a little bit red at the deepest point and feels like damp cardboard) however I was hoping I could get a tattoo something biomechanical because there is a slight indent. The scar doesn’t bother me I just think the idea sounds cool. Looking for more oppinions rather to go ahead or keep on waiting

    • Hi Steve, it’s been over a year but scars can take up to 2 years to really heal well. Burns are also more complex. The deeper the burn, the more dermis (deeper skin layer) is damaged. Since tattoos inject ink into the dermis, if this is scarred or very thin, the tattoo won’t take evenly and will be unpredictable. It’s also concerning to hear that an area “feels like damp cardboard”. I’d say give it a full 2 years from the injury then reassess.

  49. Hi,
    I recently burned my hand in a stove fire back in October they did a skin graft and used a piece of skin from my thigh… It’s only been 4 months but the area is completely healed. The summer time is coming up and I. Was considering getting it covered up with a tattoo…. Is this safe? Or should I wait longer?

    • Hi Melissa, You need to wait until the area has healed fully and the scars have matured, at least a year, preferably 2 – 4 months is not enough time for your scar to fully heal. Tattoo ink is injected into the dermis. The thickness of the skin graft determines how much dermis there is. Thin skin grafts have less dermis and therefore may “take” less ink. As a result, the tattoo may be uneven and need several touch-ups to get the best result. Some skin grafts may not be “tattooable” at all if they are too thin. Tattooing very thin skin grafts may even cause too much trauma to the area and create a wound. Some skin grafts also have a very uneven texture or contour which can also make tattooing very difficult and unpredictable in terms of the results. Hope this helps! – Dr. C

  50. Hi I have a large circular scar on my arm where I had a skin graft to remove a tattoo about 10 years ago. The skin was taken from my thigh so the skin on the graft is quite different to the skin on my arm. The outer rim of the scar also has slight keloid scarring which has improved over time so is only very slightly raised. Could I tattoo over this area to camouflage the fact that its such an obvious graft?

    • Hi Carolanne, Since your procedure was 10 years ago, the skin graft and resulting scarring are as healed and “mature” as they’re going to get. You should be able to camouflage things with a tattoo. However, there are a few things to consider.

      Tattoo ink is injected into the dermis. The thickness of the skin graft determines how much dermis there is. Thin skin grafts have less dermis and therefore potentially “take” less ink. This can lead to unpredictable results and you may need some touch-ups to get the best final tattoo.

      Some skin grafts have an uneven contour which can make tattooing harder. This can also make results unpredictable.

      Hope this info helps!

  51. i branded myself in october and was wondering if you can tattoo over it. its healed some what but i have dry skin, i was wondering if i could tattoo over it?

    • it is not puffy or anything but my scars stay red for years would a black tattoo cover it completly?

      • Yes Joshua, you could consider a dark tattoo once the scars have healed and matured completely. By “mature” we mean that the scars should be as soft and flat as possible and as much like your normal skin as possible. Scars take at least a year, sometimes two, to mature completely. The redness will also fade as the scars mature. There are things you can do to help the softening process…. A silicone based scar treatment like InviCible Scars will help along with firm scar massage to help break up the scar tissue. Some scar products also include ingredients specifically to help fade redness.

  52. Hi had bunions removed almost a year ago and I have 2 sorta dark scars on my feet. Can I tattoo over them? And what would be the best way to “cover” or “camouflage” them? Colored tattoos or black and grey?

  53. Bonnie Green says:

    I have a skin condition that brings up boils in random places, when they go, I’m left with scars and they are hideous. I have a couple on my stomach I want covered up as I just know I look disgusting and hate anyone seeing them. Can these be tattooed over? They go dark after they heal. They’re just horrible and have low self confidence because of them. My doctor says I just have to live with them.

    • Hi Bonnie, I’m afraid you’ll have to ask your dermatologist this question. We can’t comment as we don’t know the risk of the tattooing causing a flare up of your skin condition. That could certainly be a risk.

  54. Nandan Sarkar says:

    Before few years say 2 to 3 years ago, i had suffered from several skin boils, all at a time. These made very dark spots in my legs. Now i want to hide them. Should I make tattoo over these spots?

    • Hi Nandan, I’m afraid you’ll have to ask your dermatologist this question. We can’t comment as we don’t know the risk of the tattooing causing a flare up of your skin condition. That could certainly be a risk.

  55. I have a lot of self harm scars on my arm, they aren’t raised and some are actually still sunken where the skin was split. Would it be possible to tattoo over these? I want to be able to wear short sleeves again, and honestly I just don’t feel comfortable letting people see my scars. Also, if I can get them tattooed over, how long should I wait for first?

    • Hi Abby, how old are the scars? Rule of thumb is to wait 1-2 years for proper healing. In the meantime, since these are on your arms, wear sunscreen over them daily, as the sun will darken them, sometimes permanently. We advise that when you’re ready, to find a tattooist who has experience in tattooing over scars and requesting to see their portfolio so that you know what to expect. Tattooing over any scar can be unpredictable due to the way the ink “takes” in and around the scar.

  56. I got a small mole removed on my back, at the top middle (almost on the shoulder). Can I tattoo over that? It has been almost a year but it is only two inches in length at the most. I wanted to get a saying and have three birds (one of the birds over the tattoo.

  57. Naoma browning says:

    I recently had a kidney removed thru my belly button and would like to have a tattoo around my belly button. Surgery was jan. 26-2014. Is it to soon?

  58. Jessica Cazaly says:

    I got a skin graft on my leg In 2013 it takes up a fair amount of my thigh. I am wanting it covered. It’s not raised. But it also hasn’t been 12months.
    Would you recommend I wait or go ahead?

  59. I had a c-section 3 diff times in the same spot. I love my scar. Don’t want to cover it up. I want to show it off with a tat for my babies. I don’t really feel a whole lot there. Kinda numb. Will it be painful still or a bad idea. Last c-section was Jan 2013.

    • Hi Rachel, It takes 1-2 years for a scar to fully heal. Ink “take” is always unpredictable when it comes to tattooing over scars. You’ll want to talk to the tattooist first to make sure that he/she has experience tattooing over c-section scars.

  60. What color of ink takes well and what doesn’t take well on scars? In the future I want an all black tattoo on my shoulder which will cover my surgical scar on my clavicle where a plate and screws was inserted. I am going to be having the hardware removed this fall, which means this scar will be cut out and a new one made, so I have a couple of years to wait, but I am exploring the options now.

    • Hi Brad, this is definitely a question to ask a tattooist who has extensive experience in tattooing over scars. Be sure to ask to see their portfolio as well, so that you get a better idea of how ink will look over a similar scar as yours.

  61. I got a 2nd degree burn on my chest a year and a half ago. I ended having some discoloration.. the worst part is that it happened over a tattoo that I already had. Do you think getting another tattoo over it would blend in and cover the discoloration?

    • Hi Angie, unfortunately it’s difficult to know. I’d advise that you go back to the original tattooist and see if he/she feels they’d be able to give you another tattoo in the same spot. If your tattooist doesn’t have experience tattooing over scars, we’d recommend finding one who does as they would best understand ink take and how unpredictable it is with scars.

  62. Hi, I recently got sliced pretty badly with a meat cleaver on my forearm. The scar is kind of curved, and I wanted to get a tattoo of eyes over it to make it into a smiley face, and maybe teeth on the “mouth”. Is that safe to do?


    • Hi Ella, sorry to hear that. How old is the scar? If it is less than two years old, wait a while so that the scar has completely healed. Oftentimes while the scar may appear healed on the outside, it is still healing under the skin. Also, be sure to go to a reputable tattooist who has experience tattooing over scars, as ink “take” can be unpredictable.

  63. Hey, I’ve burnt my stomach pretty badly (in and out of plastics to get it sorted out) I know it’s going to scar :/ So I was wondering, once it’s healed up properly, could I get a tattoo over it? It’s going to be about 2x4cm on my abdomen.
    I’m going to let is heal for quite a while, my first tattoo is going to be on my ankle, and I’ve been waiting to get it since I was about 5 XD

    • Hi Grace, tattooing over burn scars is tough due to the thickness of the burn. For any scar, it’s best to wait 1-2 years until the scar is completely healed and you are cleared by your doctor. We suggest seeking out a tattooist who has extensive experience tattooing over burn scars (and ask to see their portfolio!) before proceeding.

  64. Kristen says:

    Hello, I have a very deep scar on my stomach, about 6-7 inches vertically along with other scars on the sides due to me being very very sick. I was wondering if I could still get a tattoo to cover it. It’s very deep though. Everytime I see it I am reminded of me being so sick and on life support. I want to get a cherry blossom tree to cover it.

    • Kristen says:

      It’s not too deep though. FYI.

    • Hi Kristen, from your description it sounds like the scar is an indented one. You’ll want to find a tattooist who has experience tattooing over this type of scar. Ask to see their portfolio as well to give you an idea of how other tattoos look with a similar scar. It’s always iffy how the ink will take over a scar as compared to healthy skin.

  65. Kaspars says:

    Hi there,

    Can I do a tattoo on a burn? I burned the top of my feet when I was 3 and I’m 23 now and I’ve been thinking of a tattoo for a while already. It’s an inch by inch burn and I was thinking of putting something colorful on it, something from Disney as a reminder of childhood. Feet are quite sensitive for tattooing aren’t they?

    • Hi Kaspars, tattooing over burn scars is tough due to the thickness of the burn. We suggest seeking out a tattooist who has extensive experience tattooing over burn scars (and ask to see their portfolio!) before proceeding.

  66. Hi I’m a 2 time breast cancer survivor and have had a double mastectomy and still have more surgeries to go. I’d like to know how to go about covering up the scars I’ve received during this process and if it’s possible. They aren’t raised scars and aren’t red, but I’d like to do something inspirational to show my battle without showing too much of the battle wounds.

  67. I used to be a cutter, i have light pink almost white scars. They are very thin & are not raised will they aftect getting a tattoo?

    • Hi Todd, despite the scars being thin and not raised, it is still an area of damaged skin that can be unpredictable in how it “takes” ink as compared to the surrounding normal tissue. Here’s a specific post that we wrote regarding self injury scars: Additionally, only consider tattooing over your cutting scars if it has been 1-2 years since the last time you cut. While the scars on the skin may appear healed, the tissue underneath is still healing. Lastly, be sure to seek a tattooist who has extensive experience in tattooing over scars and request to see their portfolio. Hope this helps!

  68. I have a long line scar (I think it is a hypertrophic scar) that was caused by deep cut. I didn’t use any form of treatment and I let it fade away by itself but it’s been almost 9 months and it still looks pink and strange textured. It is more flat, though, than it used to be and less reddish, but still has an “overgrown” appearance. Is this normal? How long does it take for a scar to completely heal? Is it ever going to fade away or am I going to have this scar for life? And if I am, what it’s going to look like when it’s completely healed? Is it possible for a scar like this to be covered up by a tattoo? How long should I wait before having a tattoo over the scar? Thank you.

    • Hi Renee, this isn’t typically normal. Here’s a post on Hypertropic and keloid scars to help you determine which type of scar it is: Regarding the length of time it takes for a scar to heal, it varies from person to person, but most scars need 1 – 2 years to heal and “mature” fully. You can read more about that here: Most scars are permanent. Some fade more than others. Some fade to the point where they are barely visible. There’s more on that here: It’s impossible to tell right now how your scar will look once it is fully mature. Your scar sounds like it could be a hypertrophic scar. Hopefully over time and with the right treatment it will be less red, flatter, soft and pliable like the surrounding skin. It is possible to tattoo over scars, as our post states, but done with precaution since scar tissue is different from healthy tissue. Typically it’s best to wait at least 1 year before getting a tattoo over a scar. Hope this helps!

      • Thank you very much! Your response was very helpful. I’m almost certain that it is a hypertrophic scar. However I will follow your advice and hopefully it will look better over time. Thanks again!

  69. Greg Anniuk says:

    hI, I had laser treatment to remove a tattoo about 30 yrs ago, unfortunately it was in the early years of laser so they left me with a big scar, it is flat and white but does not tan, can I cover with a tattoo?

    • Hi Greg, you should be able to cover it with a tattoo, however tattooing over scars can be tricky since ink take is unpredictable. We’d recommend finding a tattoo artist who has experience in tattooing over scars and ask to see their porfolio.

  70. Hi I had both of surgery on both of my knees my 9 years ago the thing is the scar on my left knee is longer than the right and it did fade but not completely so it’s still noticeable they’re no longer raised or have keloids.
    my question is it possible for my to cover it with a tattoo? And will it hurt a lot if I have a tattoo to cover them than a normal tattoo? Thank you

    Added note; I’m proud of my “battle scars” it’s just some people stare at them and make fun of them.


    • Hi Maya, all scars heal differently so one knee scar fading and the other still being noticeable is normal. It’s possible to tattoo over a scar, but just keep in mind that scar tissue is different than normal tissue so the ink take may be different. We suggest finding a tattoo artist who has extensive experience in tattooing over scars and asking to see their portfolio so that you have a better idea of what to expect. Good luck!

      • Thank you for the reply! Yeah my left knee is the most noticeable one since it’s 8 inches long and the right just covers my knee cap which faded into my skintone but with the left its a lot longer and had more work done since I needed reconstructive surgery since It was discloated when I was playing soccer

  71. Hello, I really like your article as you also discuss reasons to NOT get a tat and alternatives. That being said, my lower leg lost an argument with a garden tiller last month resulting in what will be a long mostly vertical scar from where they installed a plate and screws on the broken bone and there will be some tissue damage scarring. I already have 3 upper body tattoos, didn’t get my first until I was 37 as I was never 100% sure until then what I wanted. I may have a follow up surgery next yr to remove the hardware so I have plenty of time to work out a design since I’ll have to wait for that to heal. It will be mostly for appearance as I now live in Thailand where wearing shorts is the norm and I already get enough 2nd looks being a lighter skinned falang (foreigner) wearing biker shirts and such. Tats are not uncommon and will draw less attention than large scars and there will be far fewer questions. Anyway, most of my questions were answered scrolling through these posts. I’ve seen far too many people get the wrong tat for the wrong reason. Kudos to you for presenting all aspects in your responses.

  72. I have a scar on my eyebrow which i got eleven years ago. Its like 1/3 of my eyebrow and i really hate it because some people make fun of me and i was wondering if i could get my eyebrows tattooed over the scar .

    • Hi Cindy, there are many permanent cosmetics experts out there that now give a semi-permanent brow enhancement (like Browhaus) where it is essentially tattooing on a new brow. You may want to check with a salon similar and local to you to see if they have experience doing this over a scar.

  73. I had surgery when I was 10 months old removing a tumor that I was born with. After surgery I fell out of my walker and split the wound open. Needless to say, I was left with a terrible scar. Would it be possible to tattoo over the scar? Also my shoulder is missing it seems like a layer of skin. I don’t have much feeling in it at all. I want to cover it, so I could finally be comfortable in a bathing suit. Do you think this would be possible?

  74. Hi, awhile back i got a quote tattoo on the inside of my arm. The tattoo artist screwed up and scared my skin and my tattoo doesn’t look all that nice or clear. Is it possible that I could get the tattoo covered up?

    • Hi Keisha, your best bet is to seek a tattoo artist who has experience in tattooing over scars to evaluate your current tattoo and the scarring the previous artist left behind to determine if it is something they can cover up. Scarred skin “takes” ink differently than normal skin and this may be why your current tattoo isn’t clear.

  75. Hi, I’m writing because I was a cutter for years on my shoulder area, a lot of the scars are small and unnoticable, but there is one big scar on my shoulder that is large and has formed into a raised keloid like scar. I know I have read it on this thread and had been told by my ex girlfriend who is a tattoo artist that it would really have to heal in order to cover it, because obviously I’m embarassed by my scars and eventually want to add to my arm and make a sleeve. Are there any products I can use such as vitamin E etc. that you would recommend to treat my scar and help to improve the process so I can hopefully put some ink into my sleeve?

    • Hi Erik, Vitamin E could potentially make your scar worse as it has been known to cause contact dermatitis. (Great in anti-aging products, but not so much for scar tissue.) Keloids are tough and oftentimes require scar revision or injections to lessen their appearance. InviCible Scar‘s three major ingredients encourage the production of normal collagen, while limiting abnormal collagen growth and may be something for you to consider.

  76. Hi I had a biopsy on my leg back in 2009. It looked like someone took an ice cream scooper to my leg, except it is a little bigger. It is all healed and very ugly. I stay in pants or anything to keep it covered up. Which sucks because i used to model and loved showing off my legs. Do you think it can be tattooed over?

  77. Hi my name is Samantha, October 31st of 2014. I was in a off roaring vechical accident I completer broke my Remer in my left leg. I was trapped under the vehicle for over an half hour and it cause skin to die the hospital cut the dead skin off and sometime next year I will be getting a skin graph I’m just wandering if it’s possible to get a tat on the skin graph once it’s completely healed?

  78. hello.
    i had a dog incident last year febuary 2013. the scars are still very visible. i dont mind them as i am use to them. but, i would really love to get a tattoo. not to cover them but to make a design. i dont want to go over the scars because im scared they might open. i want a tattoo going around the scars. the only problem i do have though is, the skin is kind of thin now because of the trauma that happened and my arm still itches like crazy.
    my main question is : can i get the tattoo now or should i wait longer?

    kind regards :)

    • Hi Teneal, scars take a full 1-2 years to heal. Our advice to wait at least another year. Itchiness indicates that your scar is still maturing. While it may appear healed on the outside, there is still healing going on internally. It will help to massage the scar while applying your scar treatment, as this will help the scar tissue bands to break up. Once your scar is ready, be sure to seek out a tattoo artist who has extensive experience in tattooing on and around scars.

  79. Hi i have a scar on my tummy from appendectomy. do you think I can cover it with tattoo to make it less visible? thank you

  80. Hi I have a scar on my lip. I get 0-3 cold sores a year, depending on how much I stress during a time or another. A couple of years ago I got a a cold sore and during the healing process it became a wet/dry loose scab. it was obviously not quite healed yet and ready to come off but it did because I was in the shower. I accidentally bumped it and it fell off.

    Now I’ve been left with a white/ light skin color where the cold sore was. I think it may be a form of “de pigmentation” ? I don’t exactly know. What do you think about me pursuing a cosmetic tattoo procedure to just fill in this spot? The spot is on the outside of the bottom lip, making my lip look slightly less on one side or crooked. It affects my self esteem. Now that I’m older I know to just treat these cold sores with Abreva as the natural phases of the cold sore are too risky for another scar. :(

    Please answer, thank you so very much!!!

    • Hi Alexandra, it sounds like you have hypopigmentation (read: If you are seeking to have the area tattooed, just be certain to find a tattoo artist who has extensive experience with this type of scar and ask to see their portfolio. “Ink take” on scars is varies and is different than how it will take on the surrounding tissue.

  81. I have a tummy tuck scar that is 18 months old. It is about 12 inches long, but it is flat and pretty light. The whole scar area is also numb. Can I get a tattoo over it?

    • Hi Tami, the scar area being numb has no effect on whether or not you can get a tattoo as it has more to do with the type of scar and how well it will “take” the ink. We typically recommend waiting a full 2 years to make sure your scar has completely healed. It may appear healed on the outside, but under the skin there is still healing going on. Although the scar is flat, we’d recommend doing scar massage to help break up the scar tissue and fiberous bands under the skin. Speak with a tattoo artist who has extensive experience in tattooing over scars and be sure to ask to see their portfolio so that you can get a good idea of how a tattoo may look similar on you.

  82. Hi my name is Joanna. 6 years ago I had my colon removed, due to that I had to get an ileostomy bag. Can I get a tattoo over my scar left from the stoma (where the ileostomy bag was) ?

  83. Hi so I have a scar thats about 4in long and maybe a about as wide as a strand of spaghetti lol its healed for about 5 weeks. Do you think a tattoo cover could be possible if the scar is a little pinkish? Any advice would help :)

    • Hi J, 5 weeks is too soon as the healing process takes 1-2 years for complete maturation of the scar. The outside may look healed, but it is what is going on underneath the skin that will determine the final outcome of your scar as well. In the meantime, be sure to use a scar treatment to fade the discoloration and use sunscreen when outdoors, as UV rays can permanently darken it.

  84. I recived a puncture wound from a bike gear going into my bottom leg. They are very small but red. (Noticeable) if you were to rub your hand across my skin you wouldn’t notice they where there. But if you push into them you can feel a VERY SLIGHT “dent” would this be okay to get tattooed over?

    • Hi Richard, most likely, yes. Our recommendation would be to seek a tattoo artist who has experience tattooing over these types of scars and ask to see their portfolio so that it can give you an idea of what to expect.

  85. Hello! I have a scar just below the back of my knee (calf part). It was a few years ago when I accidentally touched the exhaust of a motorcycle. The scar was round, and the color is pretty noticeable. It also has dots inside the circle, but the texture is not different from my normal skin. Would it be okay to get a tattoo on it? Thanks!

    • Hi Chie, yes you should be able to have a tattoo over your scar. We highly recommend seeking a tattoo artist that has experience tattooing over scars, as scar tissue is very different than normal skin in terms of “ink take.”

  86. Hi! I have 2 scars on my thigh from a bad track fall. I hit the corner of a bench and the bench caused me to get 2 very deep wounds on my thigh that unfortunately I had to wait to heal naturally. It took about a month for each layer of my skin to grow back and now the scars are fully healed. it’s been about three years since the fall. however I noticed the texture of my skin where the scars are aren’t exactly the same normal skin as the rest of my thigh. I noticed that it’s smoother, no hair follicles nor hair grow out of it and that skin is somewhat numb. I get a small bump on them occasionally but they go away within an hour or so. the one higher up on my thigh seems to be slightly raised I’m assuming because the higher up your thigh the more fatty tissue there is. because the scars were so deep the wounds healed well but are WAY darker than my skin tone. while my skin tone is caramel the scars are dark brown almost black. can I tattoo over it?

    • Hi Melinda, you’ve hit on a few things in your comment – it’s true that scars are different from normal skin and scars also don’t grow hair. If you have a raised scar, it doesn’t have to do with location on your body necessarily, but it could be a hypertrophic scar – massaging it 2x a day can help to flatten it. Your scar could have healed darker than your skin tone due to an overproduction of melanin in the area as it healed, or if you didn’t apply sunscreen to the area regularly when outdoors, UV rays could have permanently darkened it.

      You can probably tattoo over the scar, but we highly recommend speaking with a tattoo artist who has experience doing so. Ask to see their portfolio as it pertains to tattooing over scars, and specifically about the scar that is raised. Good luck!

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