Tattoo’s and Scarring

Throughout your life you may have racked up a few scars over the years from various things such as terrible accidents, surgical scars, or even just silly happenings. I for one have a long scar in my armpit from being overly vigorous when shaving my armpit, and one strange ‘V’ shaped scar on the top portion of my middle finger where I got it caught in a toaster!

Many people don’t think that they are able to convert their scars into a tattoo but it’s becoming increasingly popular to not just accept them as they are, but embrace them and sometimes develop them into a continuation of the story or memory that the scar left to begin with.

Credit: David Allen, Tattoo Artist @ Pioneer, USA.


There has been some fantastic work produced by tattoo artists all over the world who create beautiful or funny situations out of a terrible happening; Breast cancer survivors who have undergone a mastectomy who have chosen to get  tattoo’s over their scars to reclaim their bodies and to have a beautiful reminder that they are strong, they endured, and they survived. There’s been many clients who have had amputations and chosen to create funny artwork on their limbs, someone has even had a toe amputated and got a tattoo referencing that the little piggy went to market!

The possibilities are endless, and a good artist will want to create a special piece for you to fit your body, and incorporate your needs as a client. 


How long will it be until I can get a Tattoo?

Depending on the scarring, it can take around 12 to 18 months for a scar to fully heal. The best piece of advice is always check with your doctor/GP/surgeon before beginning the process of getting a tattoo over scarring, as it will always differ per person and per injury. To further help with healing, drinking plenty of water every day will help with hydrating the skin and the regeneration of cellular tissue. You can also try using BioOil on the scarring, as long as you have the go ahead from your Doctor.

It all depends on what the scarring was from. That being said, you should always have a consultation with your artist of choice to discuss everything regarding the scarring, so both parties are aware of the expectations of the tattoo.


Will it hurt?

All tattoo’s hurt to some degree, depending on your own pain tolerance and placement of the tattoo. Scar tissue is no exception, as it is a lot more sensitive than regular skin. 

Pain is relative, but beauty is pain, right?


How will it look?

Depending on your artist and design of tattoo and the actual scarring, it all depends. It’s always best to do your research on an artist, ask them questions about their previous work, if they’ve tattooed someone with scarring before and the outcome of that piece. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Do your homework and you’ll be much happier with the outcome instead of finding someone who is a back alley tattooist, is quick and cheap and puts you in a lot of pain to end up with something you hate in a couple of weeks time. 

Generally, if your scars are still more pink than white in colour, they required a little more healing time, and this would need to be taken into consideration with how it would affect the outcome of the design. 

Different scarring will alter the tattoo. If you have small stretch marks that are white or silver, the tattoo will look differently compared to when it’s on large bright pink or red stretch marks, so these factors need to be brought into consideration when you are having a consultation with your artist.

There are also other factors to consider such as how deep the scarring goes, if it’s from surgical or self harming wounds which will be a lot deeper than stretch marks. These will also need more time to heal from the inside out, so the longer you can let your scars heal before tattooing, the better. 

Check out Mat’s work on this lovely gentleman who came into us with some bad keloid scarring over his shoulders and back, which you can see is still pink in colour. He worked his magic and worked closely with the client to create something both of them were happy with, and from the result, you can see it worked perfectly and was a job well done! Having pinker scarring does not necessarily mean that it cannot be tattooed, but should be taken on a case by case basis.


How do you tattoo over scarring?

Tattooing over scarring can be very difficult, which is why we will stress that you should do your homework and consult your doctor and chosen artist beforehand. The ink can blur and alter the design of the tattoo if not careful by choosing the wrong type of design or artist for the job.

Finding the right artist for the job is the key to creating a design that you are proud of and having a quality tattoo to cover or embrace your scars.

As a final note, always talk in depth to your artist to make sure you can get the best outcome for you to get a great piece of art. 


If you would like to discuss getting a tattoo with one of the artists at Octopus Tattoo, check out our contact page for further details.



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