As I write this I can’t believe how far I’ve come. From a shy person who was very self-conscious, mostly because scars covered my body, to a much more confident and comfortable in my own skin. This is not a sudden change, but a gradual and slow process that was years in the making.
I consciously worked my way through trauma that happened to me and which my scars continuously reminded me of. I decided that I will be the driver of my life, and I will no longer allow being restricted by the misconceptions and assumptions others and society made about me. My scars held me back, and the activities that I allowed myself to partake in became far too few. I parted ways with the fear that gripped my life for so many years and that prevented me from living life freely and joyfully.
My scars are not my identity
One of the most dangerous things you can do is base your identity on the scars that you carry. Those scars are part of your story, but they do not define who you are. You are much more than your scars. The same goes for other things in life – you are more than your career, your achievements, and your possessions. Your identity is who you are without any of these things – you are worthy, beautiful and unique just as you are.
It took some time to fully accept my scars. That they are part of my story and my past. It is something that happened to me and I had to move past them somehow. I didn’t really know where to start, but it helped to know that are others like me out there. It turns out I wasn’t alone. I did have to work on my mindset and let go of a lot of pain that these scars reminded me of. Nevertheless, they carried strong and stubborn memories. Once I no longer felt that much pain that these memories carried, I could look into scar removal procedures.
Comparing different scar removal techniques
Medical technology has advanced so much, however, I learnt that some scars are impossible to remove. But you can do a lot to improve their appearance and camouflage them. The more I researched scar management techniques the more hopeful I became. I dreamt of a day when I would feel unburdened by my scars – and the memories and pain they carried.
For a long time, I had hidden my scars from the world by wearing long sleeves and avoiding travelling to hot places. Office parties and team-building events were avoided if possible. I always checked whether there was air conditioning in the office before changing jobs. I declined friends’ invitations for spa days and swimming. There were a lot of restrictions I imposed on myself, but it was the only way I knew to keep myself safe from prejudice, judgement, assumptions and uncomfortable questions.
So when I decided enough was enough and that I deserved to live life to the fullest, I looked into what I could do to make my scars appear less severe and more socially acceptable. Not only so that I could do more activities, but so that I could move on myself. So that my scars wouldn’t trigger memories every time I looked at my body.
When researching how to improve the appearance of scars I looked at dermabrasion, lasers, skin grafts, camouflage make-up, tattoo stickers and regular tattoos. I didn’t jump into any of these things, I thought it was better to take time and do my research. I also wanted to see how I felt about some of these approaches so I tried to imagine the results and how I would feel afterwards.
After some careful thought, I opted for a scar camouflage surgery called Thin Skin Grafting, where the surgeon uses a combination of dermabrasion and skin grafting to camouflage your scars. The surgery offers faster recovery than a regular skin graft and better results. You can read all about this procedure and the preparation for it in my ebook Living with Scars. By purchasing my ebook you are helping me to continue writing this blog.
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This surgery proved to be the right decision for me. When you look at the before and after photos of my scars you can see that the surgery made a massive difference to the appearance of my arm. I immediately felt a big burden falling off. As my post-operative scar was slowly healing, my mind and heart were filling up with hope. The heartache was replaced by glimpses of joy.
Tattooing over my skin graft and donor area
Getting the skin graft surgery was the most important step in my scar camouflage journey, but it was not the end of the road. I wanted to get closure and to move on. When embarking on this challenging journey I came upon a beautiful work of art in the shape of tattoos. Some people used tattoos to cover up their scars and I felt that a tattoo over my skin graft scar is right for me. It would be the final act in my journey.
My growth and transformation
The past few years were years of growth and transformation. And not just the physical transformation. Yes, my scars and skin were transformed. My scars camouflaged. But more importantly, my wellbeing improved, I can breathe easier and let my guard down. I can say yes to more things and I feel more like myself again.
Free. Joyful. Content. Excited about the future but also fully enjoying the present. Embracing the newfound light.
I have to use this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who was a part of this journey. It was hard and full of worries and fears, but it was made possible because of you.
To my partner, thank you for helping me see that there are possibilities. Thank you for being there for me every step of the way. For the cooking, the everyday care, the love and the support. The warmth and the laughter. I will always be so grateful.
Thank you to my sister and my dad, for always being on the other end of the phone and listening and cheering me on.
Thank you to my surgeon, for your brilliance and humour. For taking the time to talk about everything. Your reassurance and compassion meant so much.
Last but not least, thank you to my tattoo artists. It is not an easy decision to put permanent ink on one’s body and tattoo artists are entrusted with a big responsibility. Seeing your art come to life on my body was a special experience which I will always treasure. My tattoos have a special meaning and help me remember my journey.
It feels like I was given a new lease on life. I am so grateful.
Read more interesting articles:
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- A Fresh Start – How My Life Transformed After Scar Surgery
- My Scars Before and After Skin Graft Surgery
- Temporary Tattoo to Cover Your Scars on Special Occasions
- Two Years After My Skin Graft Surgery
- Medical Tattooing for Scars
- How to Hide your Scars in Summer?
- Using Tattoos to Cover Scars
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