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I have massive, thick scars on my arm that I need covered (cw for healed SH) and I’m really inexperienced with tattoos and I need some advice/experiences so I know what to expect.

I have massive, thick scars on my arm that I need covered (cw for healed SH) and I’m really inexperienced with tattoos and I need some advice/experiences so I know what to expect.

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29 Comments

  1. Hi! I’m a tattoo artist (fairly new, 4yrs, but here’s what i know). How long it will take will depend on the design & artist, in my experience the scarring won’t make the tattoo itself take significantly longer. I would want to book an extra session after everything is healed to make sure that no lines/color were lost in the scar tissue. Your artist might want you to wait for the dark scars to lighten up, not because of the design but because the skin and scar tissue is still healing, changing and isn’t stable yet. They’re healed when they’re whiteish/skin tone again like your other ones are. Moisturizing daily with vitamin e oil or dimethicone scar creams can help with that! (I use vitamin e oil on myself, for stretch marks & SH on my leg).

    Design-wise I’d stay away from geometric patterns because the texture will make any straight lines not straight. I’d say come up with an idea you love for that prime real estate on your arm, you’ve got a great amount of space to go big and get something awesome. I’m a huge fan of foliage,snakes, lady heads, and animal skulls but you go for what you like! Organic flowing designs are good for hiding things in shadows, but a tattoo isn’t gonna take away that texture. It’ll distract for sure, once you’ve got something there no one’s gonna be looking at your scars.

    I’d say it doesn’t have to be color, but color can help distract from the scars because you’d be leaving less skin open than something black and grey (tho that also depends on the style).
    If your skin there is generally more sensitive than the rest, you can expect it to hurt a bit more in that spot during the tattoo, if it’s normal/desensitized then it will feel like a regular tattoo. Hope this helps!
    (Edited to make this not one block of text lol)

  2. I have some SH scars too. When I went to talk to a guy about getting it covered he said that he’d wanna wait til it was 4 years old. Your best bet IMHO is to find your artist/shop and talk with them. They’ll let you know their policy on it

  3. Tattooist of 9 years here.

    You can’t get this tattooed until ALL the scarring is white. It will literally shred like tissue paper otherwise..

    I know its not what you want to hear but I have a deep scar on my left elbow from a bad bicycle accident that is almost ready to be tattooed over, the accident was 12 years ago..

    As for design avoid straight lines. Florals are always a great option for scarring like this!

  4. Okay so here’s the sitch. I have textured, massive scars on my upper left arm and I need them covered. Basically they’re very visible, very thick, some of them are red, and they’re heat reactive. I have scars basically all the way down my arm, but the other ones are way less visible. I only have a couple little tattoos and each of them took like 20 minutes so I’m really out of my depth here. I don’t know what design to get because I figure the texture of the surface will be pretty limiting because some of them are definitely keloid scars, and I need them covered on a practical level so I don’t really care what the tattoo is. I’m just sick of feeling ashamed and humiliated all the time.

    For anyone who has needed this kind of cover up, did you need something in color? Did it need to be solid, or would a pattern with negative space still do the job? The person I’m talking to can’t really give me an estimate of how long it will take because I don’t have a design in mind, but if you have been in a similar situation, how long did it take? Also, I understand that you need to wait to make sure that the scars are completely healed and it takes a long time, so how long did you have to wait, and how did you know if they were healed?

  5. OK, long-time tattoo artist. Here’s the spiel I tell anyone in your position.
    All scars are different, and healing times vary from person to person, but in order to tattoo over them they need to have ‘settled in’. By this I mean they’ve lost the dark colour and generally have softened up in the skin. I’m sure you’ve noticed fresher scars feel hard in the skin, whereas long healed stuff will feel softer and will probably stick up less. While they’re hard it’s a difficult job to get ink to stay in them as it’s hard to get the needles to penetrate properly.
    Fresh (still knitting together) ones are going to tear apart easily. So, unfortunately, as others have said already, it’s a waiting game, and no one can tell you how long it’ll be. There are some creams/lotions that claim to reduce scar tissue and heal the area better, I have no experience with how well any of them work.
    When it comes to a design, that’s a whole other thing. That’s where talking to your artist comes in. Personally, I try to avoid placing any lines along a scar as the tissue has a habit of bleeding ink through the scar fibres, and I find I have the best results when lines are perpendicular to the scar itself. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, and there’s always that risk of ink bleeding through a scar no matter which way the line sits. I usually draw a diagram of how scars heal, how the fibres form and stretch, and what it means to ink in the skin at this point, but whatever artist you’re talking to should be able to explain this.
    It’ll be down to you and your artist to discuss the content of this tattoo and how it can be implemented.
    As others have said, your skin has texture now that isn’t normally there. No matter what tattoo you get, that texture will still be visible, the light will still catch on areas of the scars which won’t necessarily be lighter areas of the tattoo, and people will still notice something. Hopefully, the artist you work with will be talented enough that whatever people notice, it won’t be more than slight texturing of the skin rather than all the original scar lines.
    It will eventually be possible to cover these scars for you, but you’ll have to be patient. to enable your artist to do a good job. Not what you want to hear I’d guess, but you’ve plenty of time to work with an artist to get an amazing design once the skin has healed enough, hang in there.

  6. You could start a horror themed sleeve, the pattern of those scars, I could see a mummy head right there. (I am not a tattoo artist and this is just my amateur opinion) now as far as tattooing over scars, I have a massive gnarly scar from a motorcycle crash on my collarbone and just recently had a tattoo partially cover it. It’s held in really well and it definitely hurt less than my other collarbone did, I have a lot of nerve damage around that scar though so I’m sure that played a role in that.

  7. I would say some branches with flowers which could work into the bark and give it depth, or maybe some type of fish or sea creature and you could work the lines into the fins and give it depth that way. I think working scars into tattoos is better than covering them up, and also probably a little easier.

  8. You’ve gotten some good advice, not sure your interests & personality but those make me think of branches moving in wind. Maybe consider trees?

    My eldest kid has been struggling with SH & I’m glad to see recovery. All my best to you. ♥️

  9. Hi there, I’m an apprentice tattooer. So, it’s hard to predict how those scars will take ink. I’ve seen it done, but there’s also a chance some of it won’t hold ink as well. Make sure you wait until you’re in a position to have done lots of research, and saved enough to pay for a *HIGHLY SKILLED* tattooer. Find someone who puts out incredible art and can make their own designs. They’re going to be able to help you figure out what designs will work the best for your particular body. I’m going to make an educated guess and say that something organic will work best. I’m thinking tree of life or a thorny rose bush off the top of my head.

  10. Coming from someone who has very similar scars already covered with tattoos, if your artist knows what they are doing it shouldn’t make much of a difference. Line work should still be fine and you won’t be able to see the scars from far away after the tattoo is finished, but up close you will still see the bump.. hope this helps

  11. Someone else said and got downvoted but, I genuinely think the scars alone look fuckin badass. Like, there are people out there who get Scarification done to them on purpose for aesthetically reasons.

    That being said, I’m a SHer too and I understand the guilt and shame from looking at them. When I got tatted over mine, my design fit so that the scars actually enhanced the design ie. Highlights or high relief areas had scars, so everything was more textured. And I really like that. My first thought looking at your arm was a tree, or something similar with many relief and texture.

    You’ve got lots of advice on this already but: Bio oil. Every day, 2 times a day, apply to the area and massage really good for about a minute or two.

    Hope any of this helps, and take care friend 🙂

  12. I’ve heard that you can get injections (cortisol i think) into keloids to help them. You’ll have to wait until all the scars are completely white. I have scars covered and it looks pretty good. I just got whatever design I wanted.

  13. Hi, I’m tattoo apprentice and my take on this would be color neo-traditional sunset scene. 2-3 Palms on left side, a sun in top center, waves , and beach/sand on bottom hugging left and right bottom side. That’s first thing that comes to my mind when I see the shape and size of it. You could always add something to the scene I explained, but I’m pretty sure that would cover it decently.

  14. I couldn’t find my recent reply but if u did a thorn bush or something like that I think it would turn out beautiful or maybe a tree with birds in it. Btw hope your scars start feeling better and hope u have the best of luck. 🥰

  15. I had some pretty thick scars on my forearms. No issues tattooing over them, feel free to check them out on my profile. They were a little sensitive but healed just fine!

  16. I know next to nothing about tattoos, but people here are saying you need to wait. It sounds like you want them covered anyway, at least for a while. Thoughts on something like Inkbox? Cover it up with temporary tattoos so you can find what you like and still distract. That, or “blackout tattoo” with sharpie?

  17. honestly with the location waiting 2 years for it to heal isn’t all that bad, with short sleeves it’s mostly covered up. idk if you go swimming or something but that’s mostly it

  18. Hi!
    For settling the scars faster try silicone scar gel, it’s a little pricey but works wonders and you don’t need to use much.
    Wear SPF 50 sunscreen every day and top it up regularly.
    I read in another comment that you are exfoliating the scars, this can help fully healed scars (few years old) but will aggravate ones that are still healing so I’d advise to stop exfoliating.
    Hope this helps, wishing you all the best. 🙂

  19. Not got a clue about what tattoo would work, but I don’t even know you, I know what it feels like going through stuff, the fact it’s healed is incredible I’m so so proud of you for overcoming it. Sending love from one random stranger to another ❤️