As a tattoo artist, I see this question come up a lot.
Stretch marks have been a topic of the beauty world for ages, mainly surrounding how to get rid of them. This is a pity, as stretch marks are a completely normal and beautiful part of most human bodies! Each person has a different reason as to why they may want to cover their stretch marks, and I know that they can help boost your confidence.
But if you are wondering if it is possible to get a tattoo in an area where you have stretch marks, whether it’s to cover them or not, the short answer is yes! Let’s take a look at some common questions surrounding getting a tattoo over stretch marks:
What exactly is a stretch mark?
A stretch mark is a type of scarring that can develop when your body stretches or shrinks rapidly. The collagen and elastin in your skin raptures and a stretch mark appears. They come in a variety of colors from deep purple to silvery white and can come in groupings or as a single line.
Stretch marks most commonly happen during puberty, pregnancy, rapid weight loss or weight gain, or through building muscle. Stretch marks can also be raised and quite dark when they first appear but can lighten up and create a depression as they heal. They mainly appear on your stomach, thighs, and bum but can pretty much appear anywhere, even on your face!
Tattooing over stretch marks
In short, yes, you can tattoo over stretch marks.
It all depends on how old they are, as we generally recommend waiting at least a year before tattooing over any kind of scarring. This is because the skin can still be very thin, and the scar can change a lot with time.
Tattoo artists generally try to design the tattoo so that it flows with the direction of the stretch marks. Anything to do with nature also works well to cover up stretch marks.
If you’re just wanting to get a tattoo in an area that has stretch marks and not necessarily cover them up, that is also possible, and most designs should work depending on the severity of the stretch marks.
Some people even get tattoos on their existing stretch marks to highlight them in different colors, which is an interesting idea and a cool way to accept your stretch marks for what they are! Whatever tattoo you decide to go with, it is important that you heal your tattoo like a pro.
Does it hurt more?
The areas of the body that most commonly have stretch marks are also the areas that hurt quite a bit to tattoo normally (thighs, stomach, inner arm or calf).
If your stretch marks have not healed properly before you get your tattoo, the skin may be more sensitive than any other area. We recommend having a consultation with your artist in person so that they can determine the condition of the stretch marks in person before deciding how to proceed with your tattoo.
When scars come into play, I usually recommend that the client is prepared for a tattoo and is very well-hydrated before we begin. Drink plenty of water, and make sure that you have been nourishing your skin where the stretch marks are with a vitamin E oil or a great daily moisturizer.
If you’re worried about pain, check out our list of the Top 10 Numbing Creams for Tattooing.
Cosmetic stretch mark tattoos
Cosmetic stretch mark tattooing has started to gain popularity in the beauty world.
While it doesn’t cover the stretch marks completely, it can help with making them less apparent. What the beautician will do is try to color-match your skin tone and tattoo over your stretch marks to blend in with the skin around them.
This procedure works best with stretch marks that are a lot older.
They can cover pretty much any blemish on your skin with this method, but it is not considered to be permanent tattooing and only lasts for around 5-7 years.
It is recommended that you wait until any tan on your skin has diminished so that it can accurately match the color of your skin.
The procedure can take up to 8 months to be fully completed, as a few sessions may be needed to cover them completely.
Some tattoo artists do offer cosmetic tattooing, but I recommend rather seeing a beautician as they have more experience doing procedures like this.
Can stretch marks appear where you already have a tattoo?
Stretch marks can appear in an area where you have been tattooed before.
Personally, I have only seen this happen when someone has become pregnant and has an existing tattoo on her belly. The skin stretched, and wherever there was ink underneath, it began to look very light, and the lines got disfigured.
Personally, I don’t mind how my tattoos which have stretch marks on them look as they all tell a story. But stretch marks can alter the tattoo quite severely, as you can see below:
We always explain this to clients who may want to think about getting pregnant one day, as the belly is one area that almost always gets stretch marks during pregnancy.
If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo on your stomach and are also thinking of getting pregnant one day, then just remember that this is always a risk.
The same goes for people who are actively into bodybuilding – tattoos on the arms and calves can stretch and look warped with excessive weight training.
There are a couple of options when it comes to tattooing over stretch marks. There is the cosmetic route or the traditional tattooing route – with either method, your stretch marks need to be fully healed before you decide to go over them.
The pain could be a little bit more intense due to the scar tissue, and tattoos can develop stretch marks after they have been done.
Tattooing always comes with risks, but all bodies are beautiful, and all tattoos tell a story!