Tattooing Surgical Scar: Seeking Advice and Precautions

May 06, 2024 9:45 pm

Emergency bowel removal after major perforations in August of last year has left me with a rather large abdominal scar (approx 3 1/2 inches by 7 inches, think oval with pointed tips). Strongly considering tattooing as concealment. Already have a few pieces of ink but nothing on scar tissue. Anyone ever covered a large scar like this? Suggestions/precautions above and beyond regular tattooing? The artist I have gone to in the past isn't comfortable tattooing a large scar like this and is no longer local to be able to give recommendations.

May 06, 2024 10:01 pm

The artist I use in Florida has done it. He is amazing, but in Florida


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May 06, 2024 10:09 pm

Hi there,

I personally wouldn't recommend it. It hurts on the stomach without a scar; I could only imagine how much more pain it would be with a scar. And you need to consider how long ago your surgery has been. The stomach skin is very sensitive, and you don't want any type of infection either. Question: were you closed up after surgery, or did you have a wound vac, or were you left open to heal by itself from the inside out?

So, are you wanting to get a tattoo to cover and hide the scar, to embrace the scar with a tattoo around it, or have you always wanted one there?

May 07, 2024 12:57 am
Reply to Beth22

Staples for about 2 weeks, wound vac for 3 months, and medicated dry dressing for the last about 3 months. I have always been slow healing on chest/belly injuries, so the doctors said it was expected healing progress.

Kind of both, I'm debating between having it look like an animal is ripping its way out or doing something showing the innards of a machine. I've had the loose idea of inner exposure somewhere on my body for a while.

May 07, 2024 1:17 am

Hi BS,

A good tattoo artist will tell you to wait at least a year before you try to tattoo over a scar. It's said tattooing a scar is more painful, and the deeper the scar, the more pain involved. Haven't had it done to myself, but that's what they say. Scar tissue is a bit messed up, so blowouts are more probable than with unblemished skin, and of course, the colors of ink used will have to be adjusted for the different skin color of your scar. So obviously, you need a very skilled artist who has experience with such, but I'm sure you know that already. The other thing to consider is, are you sure they won't have to go in again through that scar if your previous condition needs them to? Reason being, surgeons don't like cutting through tattoos if they can help it, but won't compromise the surgery by avoiding cutting through it. Then if cut through, it may heal to look like a total mess. Most surgeons don't even close their own incisions, so you may have a junior surgeon performing the closing, who won't care about your tattoo at all, just his ability to properly close. And lord knows those guys are NOT plastic surgeons, at least judging by the ugly scars they gave me.

So sure, you can tattoo over scars with the right artist, just make sure it's not going to be a high traffic area in the future! And let us know what design you choose. We talked about this subject a few years back, and there were some really good ideas thrown out there for ostomy-related tattoos, so it'll be fun to widen the canvas and see what others come up with! Hope it works out well for ya!!


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May 07, 2024 2:57 am
Reply to blaineshadow

I myself can say from firsthand experience from being left open to heal by itself from the inside out. I wasn't able to wear the wound vac, major problems. So if you had the wound vac and then also packed it with saline-soaked gauze, I would definitely say do not do any type of tattoo. Pick a different spot on your body. But don't mess with your abdomen; it's been through way too much already.

May 07, 2024 2:26 pm
Reply to blaineshadow

G'day Blaine, you could also wear your scar with pride like we all do. Regards, Iggie

May 07, 2024 5:43 pm
Reply to IGGIE

Yes, Iggie! I know I wear mine proud! I don't want to cover it.

May 08, 2024 3:00 am

Get the zipper tattoo that looks like your stomach is being unzipped, and you don't have to actually have the scar get inked.

May 08, 2024 6:57 am
Reply to IGGIE

Sorry Iggie, those are scars won fighting for your country, not this one.

May 13, 2024 4:07 am

Pinterest shows a bunch of tattoos hiding scars. Lots of women have tattoos over breast removal scars.