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Self-harm scars can be difficult to deal with. They often carry a lot of emotional baggage and can be a daily reminder of the things we have gone through. Many people choose to cover them up with tattoos, and this can be a great way to move forward and feel at peace with your body. So can you tattoo over self harm scars?
An experienced tattooist will be able to tattoo over most self-harm scars. Tattoos can disguise self harm scarring. However, you will be restricted as to which designs will work on scarred skin. Organic shapes such as flowers and botanicals work well. Geometric tattoos and lettering don’t work well over scars.
Tattoos can provide you with more confidence and help you feel like you are in control of your body again.
However, they are not as straight forward as getting a regular tattoo.
If you are considering getting a tattoo over your self-harm scars, here are some things to keep in mind to make sure that you get an amazing result.
Things to consider when getting a tattoo over self-harm scars
The good news is that in most cases you can get a tattoo over self-harm scars
However, covering scars with tattoos is very different from getting a tattoo on undamaged skin. It’s just not as straightforward as picking a design and rocking up at the tattoo shop to get it done.
There are a lot more things to consider to make sure you get a good result. It’s crucial to work closely with your tattoo artist to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Here are the things you need to keep in mind when covering a visible scar.
1 – You need to give your scars healing time
You will need to wait until your scars have healed before getting your tattoo. Depending on the severity of the scarring, this can take anywhere from a year or more.
I know it’s frustrating to wait when you are anxious to get the scars covered up, but it’s really important that you don’t tattoo too soon.
The skin is still rebuilding itself as it heals. If you tattoo into it you risk causing more damage and scarring.
Scars usually start off being angry and red-looking when fresh. Basically, your scars need to have faded to white to be ready to be tattooed.
Occasionally some people’s scars will stay red and not fade after a year or more.
In this case, check with your tattooist if you aren’t sure if your scars are ready to tattoo. They will be able to advise you about how long to wait.
2 – Understand that not all designs work to cover self harm scars
You may have a fixed idea of the kind of tattoo you want to cover your scars. However, it’s important to understand that some types of tattoo designs just won’t work over scars.
Geometric shapes and crisp lettering often don’t look good when tattooed over raised or sunken skin. As the line goes through the scarred area it can blow out or blur. This can actually accentuate the scar.
The best designs to cover self-harm scars are usually organic shapes such as flowers, vines, leaves, and feathers.
Tattoos with a lot of negative space, such as tribal also won’t really work well to cover scars. The scar will show through the space in between the ink.
Your tattooist will be able to advise you on which designs will work best for your particular case. If you are fixed on a particular kind of design they may be able to make it work.
Don’t be afraid to ask to see examples of their previous work on scars too.
3 – Find a tattoo artist experienced with covering scars
Not all tattoo artists are experienced in covering scars. In fact, most will have had very little experience with it. Many tattoo artists refuse to do it as it’s more challenging than straightforward tattooing.
It’s crucial that you find a tattoo artist who has done plenty of work on covering scars before. They will know how to approach the design and what techniques work well.
The best way to find a tattoo artist with experience in this area is to do your research online.
Take a look at their portfolio and get in touch with them. They will be able to tell you if they can help you with your particular scar.
There are only a few artists who specialize in covering self-harm scars so you may need to travel to see them.
The process of getting a tattoo over self-harm scars can be daunting. But if you take your time to find the right artist and design, it can be an incredibly healing experience.
4 – Consider the sensitivity of your scar and your pain threshold
One of the things you need to think about is how sensitive your scar is. Some scars are more tender than others.
Scars are often numb. However, sometimes the damage to nerves means that the scar becomes hypersensitive.
This can make the tattooing process more painful. If you have a low pain threshold, then it’s important to consider this before getting tattooed.
Some people with very sensitive scars find that they can’t tolerate the tattooing process at all. In this case, you may need to let the scar heal for a little longer.
As the nerves heal the scar may become less sensitive and you may be able to get your tattoo further down the line.
5 – Be prepared for a longer tattoo journey
Keep in mind that it might take a few sessions to get the tattoo looking just right.
This is because the tattooist will be working around the contours of your scar. They will also be aiming to make the tattoo look as seamless as possible.
Ink also behaves differently in scars as opposed to unscarred skin. Often the scarring doesn’t want to accept the ink so you may need a few sessions to build it up in the scar.
Depending on the size and location of your scar, it could take two or three sessions to get the tattoo right. Your tattoo artists will be able to give you an idea of what to expect.
For this reason, a scar covering tattoo will often work out more expensive as it takes longer to plan and create.
So, be prepared for a longer tattoo journey than usual. But, it will be worth it in the end!
6 – You need to be flexible.
Getting a scar covering tattoo is very different technically from getting a regular tattoo. You can’t just drop any design on the skin and expect it to work.
Your artist will have to plan the design to perfectly disguise the scar using colors and shapes that will create the optical illusion of making the scar disappear.
For this reason, you need to give your artist enough flexibility to come up with a design that works well.
If you’re willing to be flexible and work with your artist, you’ll end up with a beautiful tattoo that you love.
If you’re not flexible then it’s likely that you’ll end up being disappointed with the final result.
Will you be able to see the scars through the tattoo?
This is a common concern but it’s important to remember that the tattoo will be designed to cover the scar and the eye will be drawn away from the scarring and to the tattoo design instead.
However, you need to have realistic expectations of what is possible.
A tattoo cannot change the texture of the scar. If you have a raised or hollow scar, this texture will still be visible when the skin catches the light in certain ways.
As you know where the scar is, you may still be able to see the texture differences. It may look more obvious to you
However, it’s important to realize it will be much less obvious to other people who don’t know the scarring is there. Their eye will look at the design of the tattoo and not the scarring.
Tattooing can only create an optical illusion or camouflage effect. It can not remove the scar entirely.
However, most people won’t notice the scarring at all after you have a tattoo over it. They will be too busy admiring your beautiful ink
If you’re still worried about this, then it’s worth asking the tattooist to show you before and after examples of their work on other scars. This will give you a better idea of what to expect.
Are there any risks associated with getting a tattoo over self-harm scars?
There are no more risks with getting a tattoo over self-harm scars than with getting any tattoo. As with any tattoo, there is always a risk of infection. However, this can be minimized by making sure that you choose a reputable tattoo artist and following aftercare instructions.
A tattoo is an open wound so the first few days after the session are when it is at its most vulnerable. It’s most important to make sure that you follow the aftercare instructions you have been given carefully. This will help to keep the area clean, prevent infection, and make sure everything heals perfectly.
Can you tattoo over a keloid scar?
A keloid scar is a thick raised scar that grows outside of the boundaries of the original skin injury. Keloids generally happen on the earlobes, cheeks, shoulders and chest. They are much more common on black, brown and darker skin tones. Keloids are caused by an overproduction of the skins would healing protein, collagen.
Unfortunately, you can’t tattoo over a keloid scar. To do so would risk making it worse. Any injury to the skin, including tattooing, could trigger more overgrowth of the keloid.
If you have a history of keloids you really should avoid tattooing or body piercing as the healing process could trigger more keloid scarring if your skin is prone to it.
You really need to see your doctor about keloid scarring.
However, many people get mixed up between keloid scarring and hypertrophic scarring. The two words are used interchangeably by people but hypertrophic scars and keloid scars are not the same thing.
This makes a big difference when it comes to tattooing over them so you need to understand the difference.
With a keloid, the scarring can get out of control and cause serious problems.
A hypertrophic scar can be raised and lumpy but it stays within original wound margins and doesn’t grow out of control.
A hypertrophic scar can generally be tattooed.
If you are unsure what kind of scarring you have you need to speak to your doctor or dermatologist first before going ahead with a tattoo.
Are there circumstances where you wouldn’t be able to get a tattoo over self harm scars?
Yes, there are some circumstances when a tattoo just can’t be done.
If the scarring is too fresh then it’s not advisable to get a tattoo over it. The area needs to be completely healed first. This can take at least a year, and sometimes longer depending on the severity of the injury.
Some scars, such as those caused by burns, will never fully heal. In these cases, it’s best to wait until the scarring has stabilized before considering a tattoo.
If the burn is very textured then it may just not accept ink very well and a tattoo just wouldn’t look good.
If you have a very deep cut that has removed a lot of flesh then it may not be very easy to disguise this with tattooing.
Self-harming which has been done in the same place over a long period can cause a thick build-up of scarring to create a very hard tough skin surface. This can be difficult to tattoo as the skin is very tough and leathery. You may be much more restricted in design.
Having said all this I don’t want to come over as negative. In reality, most self-harm scars can be covered by a tattoo. It may just take a bit more planning from the artist and an understanding of what is realistically possible.
Talk to your artist about what they can achieve with your particular scars and ask to see examples of tattoos they have done before.
You may find this post helpful. Is it rude to design your own tattoo?
Frequently asked questions about tattooing over self harm scars
Will tattooists tattoo over scars?
In general, most tattooists don’t want to tattoo over scars. This is because it is more difficult and the results aren’t guaranteed. However, there are tattoo artists who specialize in scar cover-ups so it is best to search them out and find a specialist with experience in this delicate work.
Does it hurt tattooing over scars?
Tattooing over scars can be more painful than tattooing over regular skin as the skin is tougher and less elastic. Nerves in the scar can be damaged and sensitive. However, some people find their scars are numb and they don’t feel much pain. The pain will depend on your individual pain threshold.
How long does a scar need to heal before a tattoo?
In general, it is best to wait at least a year after the injury before getting a tattoo. This gives the skin time to fully heal and for the scar to stabilize. Some scars, such as those caused by burns, will never fully heal so it is best to wait until the scar has stabilized before getting tattooed.
Can you tattoo over acne scars?
You can tattoo over acne scars. However, you must wait until the acne has completely cleared and the skin has healed before doing so or you risk infection. The tattoo can not remove or smooth the skin texture but it can often disguise and camouflage the scarring really well.
Can you tattoo over stretch marks?
Stretch marks can be difficult to cover with a tattoo as the elasticity of the skin has been damaged. The skin can not hold delicate design details and the final tattoo may look blurred and low quality. However, some simple designs may be possible. Speak to an experienced tattoo artist.
Conclusion – Can you tattoo over self harm scars ?
I hope this article has helped you if you’re considering getting a tattoo over self harm scars.
Remember to do your research and take your time to find the right artist and tattoo studio for the job. Make sure you choose a reputable artist with experience covering scars. And make sure you understand the process. Scar tattoos are very different from getting a regular cover up tattoo.
The right artist will be able to work with you, empathetically, to create an amazing design that works with your scarring. They will be able to turn your scars into art.
If you do decide to go ahead with getting a tattoo, then make sure you choose a design that is meaningful to you.
This way, the body art will not only help to cover up your scars but will also act as a reminder of your strength and resilience after a difficult time. Getting your scars covered can be an emotional experience.
The healing power of tattoos should never be underestimated.
The information on the site is for entertainment only. Anything you do is at your own risk. Consult with your own Tattooist, Piercer or Doctor for advice.
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