Scars, everybody's got ‘em and some even come with a good story. You show us yours, we’ll show you ours. If you are wondering about the possibility of covering up your scar or incorporating it into a tattoo idea, HUSH is here to help you figure out the best way to make it happen.
Why Cover Up a Scar?
There a so many reasons you might want to tattoo over your scar. Maybe you want to tattoo over it simply because you were planning to get a tattoo in that area anyway but a bicycle fall added some scar tissue to your real estate. Or, maybe you were never planning on getting a tattoo there but now that there is a scar, you would rather have some art to steal the show so you don’t have to keep telling the story of how you tried to use a butter knife instead of a can opener. You may be thinking about just getting a total cover-up, but some people think of awesome ways to incorporate their scars into a design, making the scar a part of the art. If your scar is an interesting shape or the idea sounds cool to you – chat with your artist about it. (Many artists love the challenge!)
Get an Artist With Experience Tattooing Over Scars
If you are looking to tattoo over a scar, you’re going to want to entrust that experience to an extra special tattoo artist. We recommend you find an artist who already has a good amount of experience tattooing scar tissue. Tattooing this kind of skin is much different than regular tattoos, and can even be painful depending on the scar type. Sometimes it’s not even recommended, but it takes the experience to know that kind of thing. So, when you start your search, be sure to have a good chat with the artists you’re looking into to make sure they’re comfortable tattooing over scar tissue — sending a picture can be really helpful here.
Types of Scars
A scar is the body’s way of healing a wound. Wounds come in many shapes and sizes, and scars do, too. Do you know what kind of scar you have? Did you know there are even different types of scars? Depending on your scar type, trying to get a tattoo over it may or may not be a good idea.
Keloid scars are a type of rounded scar that raises about the surface level of the skin, encompasses the wound, and surpasses the edges of the wound. Usually, they feel harder than your regular skin and can be darker in color. They are more common in dark-skinned people and redheads. The thing about keloids is that when you treat them, they usually come back and are sometimes harder. Also, if you are keloid-prone, be cautious about getting tattoos in general, as tattoos can heal into a keloid as well.
Can you tattoo over keloid scars?
If you have a keloid scar, we are going to recommend you leave that thang alone. It’s a tricky type of scarring that likes to act up. It’s possible that if you tattoo over it, it will grow bigger. Also, the skin is thicker and harder to tattoo compared to other types of scars. Now, this is not to say it hasn’t been done — some people like the rougher aesthetic, and if you think that might be you, go for it!
Hypertrophic scars are also known simply as raised scars. Similar to keloids, they do raise above the surface level of the skin but they aren’t as aggressive-looking as keloids, and they keep to the area of the wound. These scars are more likely to subside over time but usually never go back to surface level.
Can you tattoo over hypertrophic scars?
We are going to say that hypertrophic scars are typically OK to tattoo over. The scar tissue is more like your regular skin and tends to be a bit easier to tattoo into than keloid scar tissue.
Atrophic scars are also known as depressed scars — they are the opposite of hypertrophic scars. Depressed scars heal a bit below the surface level of the skin. If you’ve had chickenpox or acne, you might be familiar with what we’re talking about.
Can you tattoo over atrophic scars?
Typically, atrophic scars are also OK to tattoo over. They are similar to hypertrophic scars in that they usually disappear into the skin a bit and the scar tissue isn’t so dense.
Contracture scars are irregular and tend to be a result of a larger injury. This kind of scar heals by grabbing onto the edges of the non-wounded skin and pulling them together. It causes a tight area of skin with less elasticity.
Can you tattoo over contracture scars?
These scars are more difficult to tattoo. The scar tissue is tight and can make what would be a regular amount of pain hurt even more because the area is so sensitive. It is possible to tattoo these areas, but also harder. You could start with a little test tattoo from a responsible artist, and if it seems like it could, work then grab some of our numbing gel and get that tat!
We’re not sure if stretch marks really count as a type of “scar,” but it’s a FAQ worth answering here. Stretch marks form when skin expands more rapidly than the skin can compensate for. They look like sexy tiger stripes for humans. The skin doesn’t differ much from regular skin, but some of the connective tissue can get damaged, which is why there's a bit of skin discoloration.
Can you tattoo over stretch marks?
Yes! This is the easiest one to answer. This skin might be a little more sensitive, but besides that, it’s pretty straightforward to tattoo over stretch marks!
How Long Before You Can Tattoo Over a Scar?
Hold up, hold up! Before you get to covering up that scar, let's take a minute and make sure your scar is fully healed. The healing time of a scar is going to depend on how large the injury is. Smaller wounds will take a few weeks to heal. Bigger injuries can take up to 18 months for the scar to completely heal and be ready to take some ink. Your scar should be totally healed and done with all of its changes before you even think about getting it tattooed.
How Does It Feel To Tattoo Over a Scar?
In general, tattooing can be painful and tattooing over a scar can amplify that pain, and unless you’re into that sort of thing (no judgment here 😉), scar tattoos can be intolerable for some people. That scar tissue sits in a different kind of way than regular tissue, so the pull and poke of the needle is going to feel different depending on how your scar is healed.
What Kind of Tattoo Can You Get Over Your Scar?
Design time! You’ve decided it’s a go for tattooing over your scar and now you need to figure out what you’re going to cover it with. Take a good look at your scar. Does it have texture? Does it dip or rise in certain places? Are those characteristics going to be able to realistically disappear under the tattoo? How about coloring? The coloring of your scar might also affect how the tattoo ink looks in the end. We’re sure your artist is going to be thinking about this as well. Just make sure you have realistic expectations when you are thinking up your design and imagining the end result. Certain styles of tattooing are going to work better over your scar, too. Straight lines and geometric shapes are going to be harder to do and might not end up how you imagine them. More flowy, organic shapes and designs will usually work better. They can incorporate the unique edges and textures of your scar tattoo.
If you’re a HUSH blog fan, you know we always make a point about tattoo aftercare. Well, that should tell you something about how damn important it is! When you tattoo over a scar, aftercare doubles in not triples in importance. You are wounding a healed wound, amigos! Make sure you treat that tattoo with extra love and sensitivity. Keep it protected with a bandage at first and then make sure you are moisturizing when it’s bandage-off time. Keep a hawk-eye on its healing. It shouldn’t be too different than a regular tattoo but it’s not a regular tattoo, so watch carefully, please!
There are a lot of reasons to want to tattoo over a scar. Whatever your reason is, make sure it’s physically possible with the type of scar you have. Find an artist who is going to be sensitive to your sensitive scar. Last but not least, ease your pain with some of our amazing numbing gel and then double up on aftercare of that scar-on-scar action with our Sana Sana CBD healing balm. Sources: Scars | Johns Hopkins Medicine | Johns Hopkins Medicine Scars: Treatment and Cause | Cleveland Clinic Scar Treatment: How to Heal Your Scar | The Hand Society Managing scars | After Trauma