Will tattooing cover up a scar?

I’ve written previous blog posts about what makes a scar good or bad, but I never addressed the topic of tattooing. Tattooing done to camouflage a scar is referred to as medical tattooing. This is in contrast to cosmetic tattooing, which is done to apply permanent makeup, and the tattooing of artistic designs for body modification.

Tattooing does have a role in scar camouflage, but it must be done after the scar has completely matured. Scars may be raised up and appear red or purple during the initial healing period. They then begin to settle over a period of 6-12 months, eventually becoming flat. The final scar may be lighter than the surrounding skin (hypo-pigmented) or darker than the surrounding skin (hyper-pigmented).  Hypo-pigmented scars may benefit from tattooing, which essentially adds pigment to match the surrounding skin. This should be done on un-tanned skin, so the scar is pigmented the correct color. Remember, however, that if the surrounding skin is exposed to sun, the resulting tan will make the scar more noticeable.

hyper-pigmented scar

hyper-pigmented scar

hypo-pigmented scar

hypo-pigmented scar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In contrast to a hypo-pigmented scar, a hyper-pigmented scar is darker than the surrounding skin. In this case the treatment is to remove pigment rather than adding it. This can be done with laser or broad-band light (BBL) treatments. I would recommend waiting at least a year to allow your scar to mature, and then seeing a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon to evaluate your scar. He or she can recommend the best course of treatment, and refer you to a tattoo artist with experience in scar camouflage if necessary.

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.