Medical Tattooing for Scars

You are probably wondering what solutions are out there to help you conceal scars? Your scars are very exposed and you would like to camouflage them. Perhaps making your scars look less visible is going to improve your life. One solution is to cover your scar with a skin tone coloured tattoo. This comes by many names, including medical tattooing, medical micro-pigmentation, scar camouflage, corrective pigment camouflage, and skin colour tattooing.

The specialists who specialise in this treatment are medical tattooists.

Although a scar camouflage can reduce the appearance of your scar, it’s important to understand that scars are long-lasting and no scar will ever be completely invisible. 

Every scar is different: body location, size, shape, colour, the appearance of depth, and so on. Some scars require only a single treatment, others take multiple treatments. Results are cumulative and may take four to six weeks to fully develop.

scar camouflage with medical tattooing

What is medical tattooing?

Permanent micro-pigmentation or tattooing is a technique where a practitioner implants a custom colour pigmentation into the dermal layer of your skin. This way they can create 3D realistic visual reproductions of lost tissue areas.

The aim is to restore the original colour of your skin by “tattooing” an area of skin to conceal scarring. This technique is also used to correct a tissue alteration such as a lip damaged by an orofacial cleft (cleft lip). Moreover, it can be used to reconstruct a mammary areola amputated during surgery for cancer.

The medical tattooist will use a medical tattoo machine, these single-use sterile pigments, are well tolerated by the body. There is a wide range of shades available to match all types of skin tones.

Medical Tattoo or Micropigmentation Process

The restorative micro-pigmentation process is performed with single-use sterile equipment. A specialist will implant sterile mineral or organic pigments into your dermis layer. These should be approved as CE class IIb medical devices. They will use a medical tattoo machine needle.

Sometimes you will have the option to apply an anaesthetic cream to the area so this procedure can be almost painless.

One month after the procedure you will come for a second time. This is so that the specialist can correct the share to get the best final result.

After each session, you can apply ice and soothing cream for the first few days and this can limit the skin irritation. To promote optimal healing it is also important to protect the treated area from external irritants such as sun, cosmetics and water. If all of these conditions are met, the medical tattoo will last between 3 to 5 years and can be refreshed whenever your want.

This procedure can help with the long term visible effect, but it will never remove the scar. It may improve the discolouration and the texture of the scar.

The layers of skin implanted with a coloured pigment will take away the whiteness of the scarring. This will help to make the whole area less noticeable.

What kind of scars can you cover with medical tattooing

Medical tattooing can be used on a variety of patients, including those with scars and burns, as well as on patients with skin pigmentation disorders and stretch marks.

Patients with stable vitiligo or scars can also benefit from medical tattooing. Scars of burn victims and chemotherapy patients can also be improved by this procedure. In fact, medical micro pigmentation can help with any kind of skin achromia or alopecia, whether it is medical, surgical or traumatic in nature.

If your scars left larger areas of your skin without hair, this may not be the best option for you. This is because of the need to periodically go back and re-pigment large areas as hair colour changes over time.

Scar camouflage is a type of non-surgical medical procedure where a needle is inserted into the scar. The needle deposits inks mimic the pigment of your skin. Since skin isn’t just one solid colour, the technician uses a pointillism technique to mix and match skin tones to add variety to the skin, masking the scar.

cover stretch marks with medical tattooing

To achieve the most natural results, the medical tattooist can choose to blend many different skin colour pigments together. The aim is to realistically match the colour of your surrounding skin.

Scar camouflage or skin colour tattooing is an invasive procedure as it is using needles to penetrate the skin surface. Therefore the treatment is not without risk.

The main risks include:

  • Not achieving an exact colour match
  • Fading of colour over time
  • Slight skin irritation
  • Uneven pigment colour
  • Scarring
  • Pigment migration or spreading

If you are prone to keloid scars or have developed a raised scar after surgery or a tattoo previously, you may not be a good candidate for this procedure. You can discuss your prior scarring with the specialist.

If you have any active infections you should wait until the infection has cleared before seeking treatment.

If you are choosing to undergo areola and scar tissue tattooing after breast surgery, you will need to check with your surgeon before having the procedure.

Scar tissue accepts implanted pigment very differently from normal tissue. This can result in uneven colouring, discomfort and forming of keloid scars.

It is usually best to wait until the scar tissue is mature. That can take anywhere from 7 to 12 months, depending on your skin’s healing ability.

What factors could affect the results of Scar Camouflage?

There are many variables that can impact the final results of micro pigmentation. The success partially depends on variations in skin type. Furthermore, success can also be affected by:

  • Natural skin tones
  • Skin characteristics (dryness, oiliness, sun damage, thickness, colour)
  • Individual healing ability
  • PH balance of the skin (acidity)
  • Medication
  • Illness
  • Alcohol intake
  • Smoking

See photos of scar camouflage using skin colour tattoos here.

Combining different scar treatments

Following the doctor’s advice, you can also combine different procedures for scar removal. This could mean using dermabrasion to flatten out the top layer of your skin, and then using medical tattooing to help camouflage your scars.

You could combine skin graft surgery and medical tattooing. Or you could choose to put a regular tattoo design over your healed skin graft.

Prior to and following your treatments, you could also use special scar creams to treat your scars to speed up the healing process and improve skin elasticity.

What Worked for Me

There are several ways you can try to improve or remove your scars and I hope you find the treatment that works best for you. I personally underwent reconstructive surgery due to my scars covering an extensive area, and it worked really well.

I continued caring for my scars by using various scar creams, as per the advice of my surgeon.  The procedure I underwent is fairly new and was developed by a very successful surgeon in Istanbul. It uses a special technique to allow for faster recovery and better success. You can read more about dealing with scars and this particular breakthrough procedure in my book Living With Scars

Have you had a medical tattoo? Let me know how it went and whether you are happy with the result.

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