How long after surgery can you get a tattoo?
It depends on whether you’re getting a tattoo to cover the scar or getting a tattoo that’s not over the incision.
In either case, we recommend asking the surgeon about postoperative care.
The problem is that a tattoo is a wound. If you’re trying to recover from an operation, it’s not wise to burden your immune system with extra work right away.
But if it’s been a year or more and the scar from the surgery has completely healed, it’s probably OK to get a tattoo. Keep in mind that tattooing scar tissue is going to hurt.
Many people choose to cover up a scar or modify it with a tattoo. The act may give them confidence or help them remember their victory in overcoming a challenge to their health.
Let’s talk about getting a tattoo after surgery and how to care for it properly.
How soon can you tattoo over a surgery scar?
The experts recommend waiting 12 to 18 months after surgery before you tattoo over a scar (1).
The waiting time is to ensure that the skin has completely healed.
At any rate, it’s going to hurt to tattoo scar tissue, probably more than the rest of your body. Therefore, it’s smart to find a tattoo artist with experience tattooing over scars.
Ask to see their portfolio to see if they can create the type of design you want. Also, get advice on how to prepare and care for your new tattoo.
How soon after getting a tattoo can you have surgery?
If you have emergency surgery after getting a tattoo, it’s wise to inform the doctor about being inked recently. Your tattoo will require wound care if you spend time in the hospital.
Otherwise, it depends on the location of the tattoo. For example, if you were to have cosmetic surgery in the same area soon after getting a tattoo, the surgery could damage the design (2).
Overall, it’s best to give the tattoo time to completely heal, like 3 to 4 weeks, before having surgery.
What not to do when you just got a tattoo over a scar?
If you just got tattooed over a scar, proper tattoo aftercare is crucial. Don’t slack off on keeping it clean and moisturized.
Be sure to use antibacterial soap and unscented lotion to ward off infection and irritation.
You might find that it heals better if you use a bandage like SecondSkin or Saniderm.
Likewise, apply a nourishing tattoo balm like the one below.
Hustle Butter Deluxe
Hustle Butter is the tattoo artist’s friend. It’s beloved by tattoo collectors around the world, too.
It’s a soothing cream that doubles as a lubricant during the tattoo process and moisturizer during healing. It reduces inflammation and itching, plus it’s free of parabens and petroleum.
The formula features vegan, natural ingredients like shea and mango butter, rosemary, and green tea. This potent blend may help the original scar becomes less noticeable.
Once the tattoo heals, use this balm to keep the ink bright.
Tattoo Goo Aftercare Lotion
Tattoo Goo’s lotion is dermatologist-approved for sensitive skin. It’s mild enough to use on the face yet potent enough to speed up the healing of new tattoos.
It has no petroleum or lanolin. Instead, it’s fortified with vitamins, olive oil, and panthenol to keep the skin comfortable and healthy.
The lightweight texture absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel greasy. It helps with itching and calms irritation.
Micro-Scientific Opti-Scrub Antimicrobial Liquid Soap
It’s crucial to keep a new tattoo clean to prevent infection. If you just tattooed over a scar, you mustn’t neglect aftercare. After all, you don’t want to have to go through that ordeal all over again, do you?
An antibacterial soap like this is hospital-grade and perfect for protecting your skin. Use it to wash your hands before taking care of your tattoo. Then, use it to wash the tattoo before moisturizing.
Even though it has potent antimicrobial ingredients, it’s mild enough to use everywhere on the body, including the face. Users love it because it doesn’t dry out the skin or have a strong odor.
What you can do instead of tattooing over a scar
If you feel reluctant about tattooing sensitive, scarred skin, you’re not alone. Try these temporary tattoo ideas to cover up the scar instead. The experience may help you decide if you want a permanent tattoo in the future.
BIC BodyMark Temporary Tattoo Marker
Tattoo artist Miryam Lumpini created these body markers in collaboration with BIC. They meet cosmetic regulations for skin safety. (But don’t use them on an open wound!)
These are some of the best temporary tattoo markers as they have a flexible felt tip for thick or thin lines. They come in a variety of colors, too. If you’re not sure about getting the 8-pack, try one of the smaller packages for black and gray or henna tattoos.
Besides doodling on the skin, we’ve also seen people use these markers for filling in eyebrows.
Once the ink is fully dry, the temporary tattoo will last for a day or two. It’s resistant to water but comes off with a little scrubbing and baby oil.
Beefly Jagua Temporary Tattoos Kit
For a longer-lasting temporary tattoo, you need either henna or jagua ink. Either one will last up to two weeks on the skin.
Henna is problematic because it needs to be mixed fresh each time. An easier choice is to use jagua, an herb from the Amazon. It has a bluish-black color as opposed to henna’s reddish-brown shade.
It was initially used by indigenous people for tribal tattoos (3). Now, it’s a safe and popular skin dye for temporary tattoos.
The ink here comes in a set with everything you need for temporary tattoos. There are sixty-three stencils with a variety of designs. Plus, the pigment is bottled with an applicator tip. Just shake it, and you’re ready to start drawing.
We hope we answered your questions about getting a tattoo after surgery. Check back with us soon to learn more about tattooing and piercing.
1. https://www.healthline.com/health/body-modification/tattoo-over-scar Can You Get a Tattoo Over a Scar? Written by Erica Cirino on July 1, 2020, Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA, accessed January 20, 2021
2. https://www.carthagomed.com/en/tattoos-prior-or-after-cosmetic-surgery/ accessed January 21, 2021
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jagua_tattoo accessed January 20, 2021