HOW LONG TO WAIT?
Updated: Feb 27
Now that you've had a mastectomy, WHEN can you get your new tattoos??
WHEN CAN WE TATTOO THE SCARS?
The question everyone asks! For some crazy reason there are different answers to this question out there but to me it's really quite simple:
*Your body will tell you. There are red-flags that a very experienced tattooer can recognize. We only get to the point of being able to recognize these warning signs after years of taking chances and seeing the results. So we develop an eye for it. A feel for it. It's very important to go to an artist that fully understands this. Your body has everything it needs to heal except for your patience. So, just slow things down, enjoy the journey right where you're at, and when the time is right, we will proceed and it will be perfect.
*Your tattooer will tell you. If it's me, this is how I do it - I need to see and feel the tissue in person. There are different types of scar tissue and many different types of skin. Age, weight, sun damage and skin tone come into play. I will assess the colour, tone and texture of the scar tissue. I will assess blood flow and I will assess the surrounding tissue and its attachment to the scar. I will tell you what I'm seeing and together we will come up with a plan to approach the tattoo. That might involve waiting 3 more months or proceeding immediately! I want my client to be happy in the long run. I do need to know that I am doing everything I can to do the best work, in integrity to the survivor above all! So they forgot they lost anything in the first place! (well, almost)
*Your surgeon/physician will tell you. BUT!! In my experience, they often advise wrong! Yup, I said it - surgeons are sometimes wrong. I hear them say 6 weeks to 3 months. In the majority of clients, that's simply not long enough for the scar tissue to mature to the point of growth of granulation tissue with a solid enough structure to receive pigment. There are one or two that heal that fast, but they are the exception, not the rule. But really, surgeons do surgery. We can't expect them to understand everything about everything, and we can easily help them learn.
*THE POTENTIAL PROBLEM:
Now, here's where it gets scary, folks! IF that tissue is tattooed before it is ready, it may tear. It could possibly scar much worse and it may never be tattooable again.
This is important, as many medical tattoo practitioners don't have a solid foundation in tattooing basics, especially on the body or over scar tissue. This is where I get really passionate. My lovely clients have come in with terrible nipple tattoos, feeling terrible about their new body.
They will probably want it 'touched up' at some point, but sometimes its been damaged beyond repair. As mentioned earlier, they may disconnect from their inherent beauty even more, then from their partner.
Marriages are suffering and homes are falling apart. I know how 'harsh' this sounds, because it is incredibly unfortunate that I have to mention it. We tattooists have great power to heal or to harm. We must wield that power wisely!
This is also why I am so committed to creating a family of practitioners can be relied upon for true excellence in this work.
So, be careful out there, friends!
As always, find a great tattooer, do what it takes to make it happen, and be proud of yourself for doing the right thing. When you still look at your tattoo with joy in 10+ years, you'll be glad you did! Our tattoo family is ever growing, so keep an eye on the 'ARTISTS' page of this site to find someone great in your area!
The below picture shows the varying degrees at which this scar is maturing. We can see redness, pink tones, purple tones, and white, mature scarring as well. This is a great example, showing one scar in a few different maturing phases at once!
One other thing to take note of here is the puckering below the tram flap donor tissue. Notice the indent and loose skin underneath it? This can often be resolved with massage! We also want to honour that since the doctors and surgeons just want you to make it through this part without complications, that massage is overlooked.
Many of my clients come in with bumps and valleys that could easily be taken care of if they had some know-how, so I worked with my good friend and breast massage expert Jennifer Denman to create a mastectomy scar care class.
Please enjoy our class at the low price of $97 and learn how to take care of your fascia, scars, emotions and sacred space for less than the cost of a massage!