How To Fade Self Injury Scars

How To Fade Self Injury Scars

One of the topics we are often asked about on our Can You Tattoo Over Scars article has to do with self harm scars. One of the first questions self-harmers ask once in recovery is how fade the painful looking scars left behind.

The first thing to keep in mind is protecting your scars to prevent them from getting worse. Sun exposure can make scars darker and won’t help it blend in with the surrounding skin, so you’ll want to wear UV-protective clothing. A good broad spectrum UVA UVB sunscreen SPF 30 is also important, especially with scars that you’re not planning to cover up. This is true year-round, not just at the beach.

Aloe vera, an anti-inflammatory ingredient available in many types of salves, lotions and scar treatments, can help to reduce swelling and work to keep your scar moisturized. Scars are very different from normal tissue, and hydration is key to minimizing the appearance of your scars.

Vitamin C is also important to fading your scar, as well as promoting healthy collagen production at the wound site. Use a stable form of Vitamin C, as it will be the most effective. Licorice extract also works to fade scars by fading hyperpigmentation via inhibiting melanin activity, thereby producing whitening of the skin.

Another option that some people consider is getting a tattoo over the scar. You’ll want to wait a year or two, to make sure that the scar tissue has completely healed and matured. The ink might not take as well on scar tissue, so keep in mind that the results can be a little unpredictable, and you might need follow-up visits. Talk to a tattoo artist about their experience with the kind of work you’re looking for, look over their portfolio, and think about where you think you can get the best results. You can find more advice on tattooing over scars here.

If you are still cutting or know someone who is, there is help. 1-800-273-TALK and 1-800-334-HELP are both 24-hour national hotlines for self injury.

Do you have a question about your scar? Leave us a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.

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The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please speak to your doctor to treat any medical condition. Information on this site is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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Can You Tattoo Over Hypertrophic Scars?

Can You Tattoo Over Hypertrophic Scars?

In recent years, tattooing over or around scars to hide or camouflage them has become increasingly popular. Some people want to reduce the visibility of their scar, while some people want to make a scar that reminds them of a significant time or event even more meaningful with a tattoo. However, if the tattoo does not turn out well because of the type of scar a person has, the desired results are not achieved and the person will deal with unnecessary pain and disappointment. That’s why it is important to find a tattoo artist with extensive experience covering scars who can give you the information you need on whether or not your scar can be tattooed over.

Most scars will take tattoos just fine as long as they are completely healed and if the person waits at least 2 years after the injury or surgery. When it comes to hypertrophic scars, however, there is some uncertainty regarding whether a tattoo is a good option or not. First of all, it is crucial to distinguish hypertrophic scars from keloid scars. Keloid scars grow beyond the original shape and size of the skin injury, and cannot be tattooed. Even if a keloid scar has been stable for some time, it’s possible that a tattoo could irritate it into resuming growth.

A hypertrophic scar, however, while often thick, raised, and darker in color than the surrounding skin, does not grow and can often be tattooed. A person should wait until the scar is completely healed, avoid tattooing scars that are still red, and make sure the tattoo artist they choose has experience tattooing over this type of scar.

Having Realistic Expectations
As long as an experienced tattoo artist feels that your scar can be tattooed successfully, and you have a good understanding of what to expect, then feel free to start discussing tattoo designs and scheduling appointments. Realize that there won’t be any guarantee that the tattoo will meet your expectations, especially because it’s impossible to predict how scar tissue will react to being tattooed. Sometimes the ink may look lighter or lines may look blurrier than on regular skin. A small test line on a scarred area may be advisable to see how the tattoo looks on the scar before doing the complete tattoo.

Read: Can You Tattoo Over Scars?

Another thing to expect is that a tattoo on a scarred area may require multiple touch ups. Be prepared for these types of tattoos to take longer and require multiple visits. Discuss pain with the artist ahead of time. In different people, scars react to pain in different ways. Some scars have reduced sensitivity and the tattooing process may actually be less painful than normal; other scars, particularly those where nerves have been damaged, may cause the person more pain when getting the tattoo.

Read: Do Temporary Tattoos Cause Scars?

Finally, consider options for the design. If you have something specific in mind, discuss this with the artist and see how he or she feels about its effectiveness in camouflaging your scar. The tattoo will probably need to be larger than the scarred area for the best coverage. The artist will probably have some good ideas for the best design, so be sure to ask about this. And keep in mind that even if it is determined that the scar cannot be tattooed, it is still possible that a tattoo could be designed around the scar to conceal it somewhat. This may be an especially effective technique when the scar is thin or in the case of several smaller scars.

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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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