Scar Tattooing

To read my full booking policies, client safety information, and information about Obscura Tattoo, please click through here! 

 

Let's Talk about Tattooing Over Scarring & Stretch Marks!

  • I specialize in the tattooing of scarring of all kinds. I have experience with tattooing over scarring due to self harm , surgery, stretch marks, and accident. The examples in the gallery above are just a handful of the pieces I've made over the years.

  • Consultations for cover-ups of scarring and old tattoos specifically are mandatory before I am able to accept your project.

  • It is possible to tattoo over all types of scarring, but the extent to which it will be successful is limited by the severity of the scarring and the care taken during the tattooing and healing process.

  • With all scarring it is important to go low and slow, meaning that I  try to make the tattoo in a way that discourages excess swelling and further damaging of the already traumatised skin below. A tattoo that would be done in one shot on unscarred skin will take 1 - 3 sessions over scarred skin.

 

Are your scars or stretch marks ready to be tattooed over?

  • In general, your scars must be healed a minimum of 12 months from the initial trauma to the date of your tattoo. For more severe scarring and for surgical scars of any kind this is extended to 18 - 24 months.

  • If you have raised, hard sections in any of your scarring or hyper pigmented sections that have retained a higher pigment level than the rest of your surrounding skin, I will recommend waiting up to three years to see if either the hyper-pigmentation or the keloid scarring reduces.

  • In general, the longer you wait before tattooing over your scarring the better the result of your tattoo will be and the longer your body will have had to reduce the inflammation.

  • It is very important to wait the full recommended time before tattooing over your scars. They may appear fully healed to the eye, but they are subdermally healing for much longer and disturbing that process does risk dramatically worsening your scarring. This can result in hypertrophic scarring (dramatically raised, reddened scars) and hyperpigmentation (scars that are more strongly pigmented than the rest of your surrounding skin). This type of scarring can not be reversed though will often improve with many years.

  • If you have hyperpigmentation and/or hypertrophic scarring already please know that tattooing can not completely cover or reduce the geography of your scarring.

  • Tattooing allows us to decorate our scars, but without surgical intervention I can not remove the scarring with tattoo ink.

  • Sometimes the tattooing process can improve the topography of your scarring, meaning that the tattooing process does have a tendency to level your scarring slightly. This effect can be seen in the photos in the gallery above particularly in the octopus. This happens mostly with lighter and much older scars.

What is the process like?

  • Your scars react in a much more dramatic way to the tattooing process than your unscarred skin does. For this reason, sessions are short in order to make the process easy on the client and for the sake of the tattoo's healed quality. I try to never work on a client's scars for longer than 3 hours at a time and try not to pass over them more than once per session.

  • Linework: No matter the size of your tattoo we will start with the outline only. This allows me to observe how the scars heal. The thicker scar the more it will reject the ink. The thinner the skin (especially stretch marks) the more it will have a tendency to overabsorb the ink.

Self-Care and Boundaries

  • Tattooing over scarring can sometimes be triggering to clients. Please bring whatever you need to make yourself comfortable during the process. It helps to advise me ahead of time if you have anything in particular I can do to avoid these triggers either in conversation, in touch, or in how I run the service for the day. You can also request a silent appointment with me either on your new tattoo request form, via e-mail before the session or when you arrive at the studio, no questions asked.

Designing for Scars & Stretch Marks

  •   I tend to choose designs that are less structured with an organic/botanical base for scar work. Plants, abstract art, etc. that have simple structures that can easily be altered on the fly as I see your scars in front of me during the tattooing process are what I recommend for my service. Highly symmetrical and technical designs that need a great detail and precision are not appropriate for scar cover ups.

  • I do not tattoo over more severe stretch marks in black and grey because I use the dotwork shading technique and it can be a little aggressive on scars that are heavily raised. Dotwork can be done over some, but not all, scarring over tougher skin like outer arm and outer thigh.

  • I choose designs with larger blocks of colour instead of open skin breaks and concentrate the heaviest of the scars within those areas. It is easier to touch up and make everything appear even for the longterm.

  • I showcase one particular style of tattooing on my social media, however I am skilled in many different styles. I try not to turn folks away with scarring if the desired end result is within my capabilities even if it falls outside of my usual drawing style.

  • Tattooing over stretch marks is much more finnicky and can take a lot longer with a slower process. Please consult with me directly for more information.

Scarring & Deeply Melanated Skin

  • In general, the more deeply melanated your skin is, the more prone it is to scar. More deeply melanated skintones are especially prone to more raised and hyper-pigmented scarring like hypertrophic and keloided scars. Because of this, many tattoo artists who lack knowledge and expertise in the tattooing of deeply melanated skin have a tendency to overwork the skin during the tattoo process. This happens especially when the tattoo artist goes back over skin that is extremely swollen or when they do not trust that their paler pigmented inks have taken in the skin.

  • Overworked skin has a tendency to heavily scab in the initial healing phase and then to develop raised, mottled sections in the healed final product. These raised sections will often feel denser to the touch after the heal and remain hyperpigmented. 

  • Unfortunately there is no going back from hypertrophic, keloided or hyperpigmented scars, but there are ways forwards and ways that I can alter these imperfections in the healed tattoo. Every case is different.

  • As for surgery and self harm, scars on melanated skin tend towards being more severe and require extra care when being tattooed over. Again, every case is different!

Aftercare