Cannabis Science

Can You Tattoo Over Scars?

tattoo over a scar

There are mixed feelings about scars. Some people wear their scars as a badge of honor while others prefer to hide it. If you have a scar that you want to hide, chances are you’ve considered your options. You may think about applying makeup to your scar or wearing clothes that cover it. You may have also thought about getting a tattoo over the scar in an attempt to hide it. But can you tattoo over scars? This is what we know. 

Photo: Unsplash

Can You Tattoo Over Scars?

Yes and no. Some scars can be tattooed over but other scars may have to avoid the needle.

Anka Lavriv, a tattoo artist, was quoted on Byrdie saying that you should meet with an experienced tattoo artist first. Having this consultation about the scar you want to tattoo will give you a more realistic expectation of the possibilities. 

Lavriv says in their experience, self-harm scars may be easier to cover up than scars from mastectomies, c sections and other scars. 

In addition to that, when Lavriv is doing their consultations with clients about covering up scars, they consider the scar’s:

  • Severity
  • Age
  • Color
  • Placement

Lavriv also likes to find out what the client’s goals are. Remember, not every scar can be covered up completely so it’s important for the tattoo artist and client to have these conversations beforehand. 

You should also know that the type of tattoo you want may not be suitable for your scar. Lavriv told Byrdie that floral designs tend to work well but geometric shapes or lines are not ideal. The latter isn’t ideal because of the skin quality and texture. 

Lavriv reassures by stating that it really comes down to personal preference and what you want to achieve.

Can You Tattoo Over Acne Scars?

Yes, you can. However, Medical News Today suggests waiting until your breakout has healed. Tattooing on an active breakout can cause bacteria to spread to other areas of the skin. In addition to that, you may even worsen your existing breakout. 

Always have a consultation with an experienced tattoo artist so you can get a better insight. In addition to that, if you’re noticing signs of an infection, skip the tattooing for now and see a medical professional. 

Can You Tattoo Over a Burn?

Yes, but Healthline warns that the area may be sensitive after tattooing. In addition to that, it tends to be painful. However, it is possible and a chat with your tattoo artist can determine the best tattoo for your goals. 

How is Tattooing a Scar Different from Tattooing Regular Skin? 

There are similarities between tattooing a scar and regular skin. For example, infections are possible either way. However, tattooing on scarred skin is different from tattooing on unscarred skin in many other ways. 

Your Tattoo May Be Blurry or Unclear

Healthline says that tattooing scars carry the risk of a blowout. A blowout is when the ink goes too far into the skin and the tattoo blurs. 

In addition to that, scarred skin is less likely to absorb ink than unscarred skin. Healthline also noted that the ink would settle more irregularly in unscarred skin. All of that means your tattoo may end up smudged or unclear. 

Follow Up Sessions are Necessary

Lavriv says they ask their clients to come in for a short follow-up after the tattoo session. These follow-up sessions are necessary so your tattoo artist can see how everything has settled.

Just so you know, during the tattooing process, scars may look worse but that’s usually temporary. Lavriv says, “Scar tissue gets extremely aggravated and raised during the tattooing process”.

During these follow-up sessions, you may have to do touch-ups but that’s all a part of the process. 

It Hurts Way More

Yes, getting a tattoo hurts anyway but scarred skin tends to be even more sensitive. Healthline says that scars that resulted in compression or nerve damage definitely hurt more. 

Scars that tend to be more painful include amputation scars, keloid scars, and burn scars. 

If you’re really worried about the pain, you can talk to your tattoo artist about numbing creams to help make the pain more manageable. 

The good news is milder scars may not hurt as much. If you want tattoos over milder scars, the pain will definitely be more manageable than a deeper or larger scar. 

How Soon Can You Tattoo Over Scars? 

You shouldn’t tattoo an active scar. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, an active scar is “red, raised, firm and thick.”

The time scars take to heal really depends on the individual. Some scars also take longer to heal than others. According to Healthline, keloid scars, for example, may require a 3-5 year wait period before you attempt to get a tattoo. 

The general rule is that you don’t tattoo over fresh a scar. According to Medical News Today, “people should avoid tattooing over fresh scar tissue because it is extremely sensitive.”

There are other things to consider. Byrdie says, “It’s never a good idea to get tattooed when your skin is irritated, sunburnt, or your immune system is low.”

If you’re having doubts about whether or not your scar is ready to be tattooed, see an experienced tattoo artist. Make sure that the tattoo artist has experience working with scars. In addition to that, the tattoo artist should operate in a clean environment and observe proper health protocols. That way, you have a lesser chance of getting an infection. 


So, can you tattoo over scars? Yes, you probably can tattoo over your scar. However, the best thing you can do is meet with an experienced tattoo artist. A consultation with a tattoo artist who has done work on scars and operates in a clean environment is necessary. Tattooing over scars can provide a different experience than tattooing over regular skin. 


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].