People have been using tattoos to express themselves for decades, with many people using tattoos to cover their bodies in meaningful artwork that tells a story or reflects their personality.
However, when it comes to tattooing on delicate skin, particularly over scars and stretch marks, most people have the same questions: Can you tattoo over scars and stretch marks? Is it possible to make a tattoo that seamlessly works with these features of the skin?
In this article, we’ll delve into the world of tattooing on delicate skin while exploring the extra considerations involved in creating art over scars and stretch marks.
Understanding Scars and Stretch Marks
Scars result from the skin’s healing process after injury or surgery. Collagen fibers replace the damaged tissue, and this is what makes visible marks. Stretch marks, on the other hand, happen when the skin shrinks or expands very quickly. Pregnancy, weight fluctuations, growth spurts, or medical conditions are usually the cause of stretch marks.
Because the skin’s structure is disrupted by scars and stretchmarks, they can greatly impact the texture of the skin when it comes to tattooing.
It is still possible to tattoo over both, but because those various textures affect how ink rests in the skin, you need to go to an experienced artist who understands how to work with scars and stretch marks.
Wait Until the Skin is Healed to Get Tattooed
The skin needs to be completely healed before getting tattooed. Tattooing over a scar or stretch mark that is not fully healed will be more painful for the client and it will also make the tattoo more difficult for the artist. On top of that, the tattoo will likely change with the healing skin.
Healed scars will have different appearances on the skin, depending on the injury, so it’s important to talk to a doctor and make sure the skin is fully healed before going and getting tattooed. Stretch marks are healed when they are a silvery-white color. (Stretch marks that are red/purple are not yet healed, even if they do not hurt to touch.)
Tattooing Over Scars and Stretch Marks – Choosing the Right Design
Tattoos cannot get rid of a scar or stretch mark, but they can camouflage them when done correctly.
Usually, the best way to accomplish this camouflage effect is for the artist to create some sort of texture over the area – like fur or feathers in an animal tattoo design. The design, as well as the location and size of the tattoo is something you’ll talk about with your artist during your initial consultation.
Tattooing to Hide Stretch Marks
Generally speaking, the tattoo will need to be larger than the scar. The design will also need to have a lot of shading and/or color. Fine line designs or tattoo styles that don’t require the artist to fully saturate the skin with ink, like a portrait tattoo, won’t effectively camouflage the area.
For stretch marks that are flat and silvery-white, there is one other option, and that is getting “tattooed” with ink that matches the skin tone of the undamaged skin. In theory, putting ink into the skin affected by stretch marks will change their color so they’re no longer visible.
This is not a perfect solution for everyone, and the conditions need to be “just right” to make the stretch marks disappear in this way. However, it can be very effective in hiding stretch marks.
Tattooing Centered Around Scars and Stretch Marks
You can see this in the “tiger stripe” designs that cover stretch marks with different colors, or in the (often humorous) tattoos that are designed around the scar as the primary feature.
Note: In some cases, someone wanting to get a tattoo over damaged skin isn’t looking to hide it – they simply want a tattoo in that area, in which case some areas might show through or around the tattoo.
The Reality of Tattooing Over Delicate Skin
Because scars and stretch marks change the skin’s structure, it is easier to damage with a tattoo needle. Because of this, tattoo artists won’t go as deep into the skin with their needles like they would on undamaged skin.
On top of that, skin with scars and stretch marks does not “hold” ink as well, and it has a harder time healing after getting tattooed.
Tattoos in these areas will fade more quickly than normal. Following your artist’s aftercare instructions and taking care of the skin will be super important, and they’ll require touch-up appointments to keep the tattoos looking their best.
Note: Take note of any skincare regimen your tattoo artist recommends for you leading up to the appointment to better prepare the skin for tattooing.
Finding the Right Tattoo Artist For You
Tattooing over stretch marks and scars is more challenging than normal tattooing, which is why it’s important to go to a tattoo artist who has plenty of experience and knows how to handle these tattoos.
Doing your research on potential artists ahead of time will make sure you get the best results. The easiest way to do this is to look at the tattoo artist’s portfolio, which will either be on their personal website, on their Instagram, or both. Some artists will also post pictures of both the tattoo when it’s fresh and after it’s healed, which can be helpful to see.
Look for testimonials of other people’s experiences with that artist, especially their clients who got tattoos over their own scars and stretch marks. You can usually find these on their website, on Instagram where the artist is tagged, or in Yelp and Google reviews of the shop they work at.
The skin is our body’s natural defense. While it can take a beating, it will leave signs of its strength and its healing process behind. While tattoos can’t heal scars or stretch marks, a skilled tattoo artist can help you camouflage – or accentuate – these areas so that you can express yourself, embrace your journey, and feel comfortable in your own skin.