You can hide the scars – for hours or forever

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Tara Hunt tried to hide her stretch marks after the birth of her son. She was 20 years old. “I bought all kinds of creams and oils and did various spa treatments, but nothing was working.

Years gone by, but not his desire. Ms Hunt, CEO of an internet marketing department in Toronto, Canada, sought advice from a plastic surgeon, whose pictures of reconstructive surgeries made her wince – the remedy seemed painful. It wasn’t until she took surf lessons on a trip to Hawaii that the real inspiration struck: an instructor had a tattoo on her stomach.

“It gave me the idea to cover or embed stretch marks in a design,” she said. Daily Medical. Although the process was very painful, she was delighted with the results.

Without a doubt, just like the tattoo industry, given its expansion over the past few years. A market research report recorded the industry growing at 3.2% between 2015 and 2019, and valued at around $ 1 billion. More women than men have tattoos, and more university educated people have tattoos: 30% of graduates have tattoos.

More inspiration

A quick look on Google shows how the scars searched for inked patterns to cover what they want to hide. Women who have had a mastectomy have intricate floral patterns covering where their areola used to be. Others have hearts, still others have designs covering the areas where the lymph nodes were taken. Zippers go up the thorns – other designs cover where a blade or knife has intentionally gone through a wrist.

And some people like fish. Samantha Pennington has a koi on her shoulder blade.

Ms Pennington, CEO of a branded design house in Brookings, Oregon, was 10 years old when several strange moles appeared on her shoulder blade. Her doctors thought it was best to remove all of the moles at once. “After removing the stitches, I ended up with a swollen, pink, and somewhat painful scar about the size of a quarter,” she said. “For my 18th birthday, I got my first tattoo and covered this scar.”

Ms Pennington’s tattoo was inspired by a photo of a model who had a koi fish that started on her collarbone, curved over her shoulder and across her back. “As soon as I saw it, I knew this was the kind of tattoo I wanted.” Ms. Pennington’s sister, an artist, helped create the design. Ms Pennington then carefully chose her tattoo artist. “Even 12 years later my tattoo is colorful and vibrant because I invested in a professional tattoo artist.

Tips for you

If you are planning to cover your own scar with a tattoo, choose a reputable tattoo artist who is used to covering scars with tattoos. And make sure you have a consultation first. (For a list of tattoo artists around the world, click here.)

“The techniques of regular body tattooing and scar camouflage or restorative tattooing are essentially the same,” explained Shaughnessy Otsuji, owner of Studio Sashiko in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. “Both procedures involve implanting pigment / ink under the skin using a tattoo machine and sterile needles.”

Ms. Otsuji explained that those who camouflage scars with tattoos use neutral pigment tones to match the surrounding skin. “It helps blend depigmentation and scarring or replicate a cosmetic or natural-looking feature,” she said. And while Ms. Otsuji uses standard tools, she applies topical anesthetic to keep her clients comfortable throughout the procedure.

Ms. Otsuji’s specialty is creating photo-realistic areolas for women who have lost their nipples to breast cancer. She also works on scars caused by reconstructive and elective surgeries, burns and more.

The benefits of getting a tattoo to hide a scar extend beyond the physical, she added. “What appears to be a simple addition of color and strategically placed detail can be incredibly effective in restoring self-confidence.”

Allow skin to heal before tattooing

“Scar cover-ups are an integral part of training tattoo artists,” said Michelle Myers, co-owner of Daredevil Tattoo in New York City. But the new scars will have to wait. “Surgical scars have to be a few years old before they can be covered,” Ms. Myers said. “They have to heal from within. If you enter too early, you could further damage the skin. The process could also be more painful.

A dermatologist intervenes

Geneva, Switzerland-based dermatologist Luigi L. Polla, MD, founder of Forever Institut and Alchimie Forever, said Daily Medical in an email that before even considering a tattoo, “The scar should be stable,” meaning there should be no visible change for at least six months. The scar should also be flat.

Also, said Dr Polla, the tattoo artist should understand that light reflects differently on healthy skin compared to scarred skin. A tattoo artist must therefore appreciate the differences between the two skin types, “and how those differences will impact the color of the ink chosen”. If in doubt, ask the tattoo artist to see images of tattoos on scarred skin versus unhealed skin.

Additionally, Dr. Polla advised, keep the risks associated with tattooing in mind. If the artist’s equipment is not sterilized properly, it will increase the risk of infection. And the infection can also lead to hepatitis.

Another consideration is where the tattoo goes on your body. “Tattoos in the area around the mouth are particularly prone to infections,” said Dr Polla. If this area is for tattooing, Dr. Polla recommends using a drug like valaciclovir, which inhibits the growth of herpes sores or blisters.

Try makeup instead

You can also use makeup “to blur or camouflage the color or texture” of scars, said Megan Curtin, Washington, DC-based, associate director of sales + education operations at Cover FX. “Color is relatively easy to conceal if you have the right products – a highly pigmented foundation is essential, as is a flat, dense brush to create coverage exactly where you need it. “

Choosing the right shade is also important. “You want to match the surrounding skin as much as possible, so that it blends in perfectly and doesn’t draw attention to what you’re trying to hide. »Use a brush to apply the product to clean, hydrated skin until the scar is covered, then fix it with powder.

Ms. Curtin recommended using a “squeeze-roll motion” to apply the powder afterwards. “Depending on the color of the scar or how it contrasts with the surrounding skin, you may need to apply a few coats of cream and powder to get the coverage you need.

And keep in mind, Ms. Curtin said makeup isn’t magic – so be gentle as you apply it. In other words, don’t rub.

Rachel Weingarten is a prolific freelance writer, author of several non-fiction books, and co-founder of a national nonprofit, the RWR Network.

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