Requests to tattoo over scar tissue are very common. Tattoos have the power to change the way that we feel about our bodies, and rewrite the story that our skin tells everyday.
Whether you have stretch marks, an injury, a surgical incision (inc top surgery), self harm scars, or even burns or skin grafts, a new tattoo to conceal them is an option for you.
Today I'm sharing Amanda's healing journey, and the part that tattoos played in it. Enjoy!
What made you decide to get this tattoo at this stage in your life?
At 36 I started my trauma counselling journey after a few years clean & sober. My arms were a reminder of the self hatred I lived in & felt covering them would be a positive step forward. I wasn’t ashamed of my scars but as a photographer when a child saw them it was hard to think up an answer. Because I wear braces on my legs from injuries kids assumed I had surgery but it was from a long relationship with self harm.
What was the experience of having your scars tattooed over?
The scars on both arms were deep & though they had years to heal it was painful. But here’s the thing, I didn’t really notice in the appointment the pain but later that night experienced my body going into shock. I feel like the physical experience mixed with the emotions of the cover up was such a big healing experience. I didn’t hear my body saying it was painful because it was 100% worth it & exactly what I wanted!
How has your new tattoo changed your relationship with your body?
My arms used to get questions from inquisitive children & now they see rainbow bright & rainbow dash & just smile. Today I feel my tattoos represent how far I’ve come, not where I was when I was stuck in self loathing & hatred. I was absolutely blown away that the tattoos made the scars obsolete & though they are still there they are not what people see. I was never ashamed but today I see happiness & survival not a sad stuck girl stuck in addiction. My arms are the highlight of my body as a plus sized girl & photographer I wear my heart on my sleeve & now those sleeves are rainbows & unicorns not bad scars!
Was the aftercare more difficult than other tattoos you’ve had?
Aside from going into shock at midnight the tattoos healed perfectly. The shock was a trauma response & I was able to just put my head between my legs, I lathered in sweat & then drank a ton of fluids. I know now when getting scars tattooed over to drink way more fluids than I thought I needed & just rest afterwards. That trauma response was a weird beautiful validation of feeling pain today, when I didn’t when I was doing self harm behaviour.
If you could give advice to someone who is feeling the way you were and thinking about getting tattooed, what would you tell them?
I’d tell them to let the scars heal & then start the inner work to view yourself as others see you not as those scars make you feel or don’t feel. I am glad I waited over 6 years from the last self harm incident & thrilled I was brave enough in my late 30’s to embrace the child in me in the tattoos! My little girl & my adult self were able to meet because of these tattoos & the journey was safe with Kara 110%, she was kind, loving & inclusive!!
Interested in getting tattooed?
Scar tissue is less flexible and about 70% as strong as the skin around it. It's important for it to heal properly and 'settle in' before tattoos are applied, and each artist will have their own preferences about how established they want a tattoo to be before tattooing begins. Generally one year is the minimum healing time required, but two years is better. (Exceptions can be made where the wellbeing of the person outweighs the need for the scars to be 'ideally' healed.)
For a complimentary tattoo quote and assessment of your scars, apply here: