A person getting a tattoo over a plastic surgery scar

Can You Tattoo Over Plastic Surgery Scars?

One concern people have when considering plastic surgery is the scars left by the procedure. While experienced surgeons will perform the surgery with precise incisions that often leave minimal scarring, some people may still want to draw attention away from them. Tattoos can be a great solution for camouflaging scars. If you are thinking about getting a scar-covering tattoo, there are a few factors to consider first.

Tattooing Over Scar Tissue

It is possible to tattoo over most plastic surgery scars. The main reason people choose to do so is if they are unsatisfied with how the scar looks. Some people have scarring from major accidents or health issues like breast reconstruction surgery after breast cancer and want to reclaim their bodies by getting a tattoo.  

Is It More Painful Than a Regular Tattoo?

Everyone’s level of pain tolerance is different, so some people may experience more discomfort when getting a tattoo than others. In general, though, scar tissue is more painful to tattoo than unscarred skin because it is more sensitive. The level of pain also depends on the type of scar. Scars that are deep or have caused nerve damage will hurt worse during a tattoo than mild scarring that lies mostly flat to the skin.

Is It More Difficult to Tattoo Over a Scar?

How difficult it is to tattoo over a scar depends on a few factors, such as the type of scar, if it is fully healed, and how it is formed on the skin. Scar tissue is denser than normal skin and holds tattoo ink differently. It absorbs ink less than regular skin and can result in a tattoo that looks blurry.

Caring for a tattoo after it is finished is always important, but it is especially crucial when tattooing over a scar. Scar tissue becomes aggravated and raised during the process and can take a few hours or even days to settle down. Follow the aftercare routine recommended by your artist to best take care of your tattoo.

What to Consider Before Getting a Scar-Covering Tattoo 

Wait Until the Scar is Fully Healed

A scar needs to be fully healed before you can get a tattoo to cover it. A tattoo adds stress to the skin and can increase the chances of infection on unhealed scars. The time it will take to heal depends on the plastic surgery procedure you had done. For most procedures, the healing process takes about 12 to 18 months.

Not All Tattoo Designs Will Work

When you choose a tattoo, you need to decide whether you want it to completely cover the scar or highlight it in the design. To minimize their appearance, they are best worked into the edges of a tattoo. Floral or botanical designs work well because they have organic flow and movement, as opposed to linework or geometric shapes. These types of tattoos can actually make the scar stand out more because of the difference in skin quality and texture. 

Find an Experienced Tattoo Artist

Finding a tattoo artist that has experience tattooing over scarred skin is the key to getting a result that you love. Consult with the artist beforehand so they can assess the severity, age, color, and placement of the scar.

Choose an Experienced Plastic Surgeon

The best way to minimize the risk of scarring and poor healing after a procedure is to choose a qualified plastic surgeon. At Hess & Sandeen, our surgeons are board-certified and have extensive experience in a wide range of cosmetic procedures. 

Call Hess & Sandeen today to set up a plastic surgery consultation.