The word ‘tattooing’ is synonymous with body art but, unknown to many, tattooing has been used in the medical world for decades to cover up a range of scars, whether they are a result of an accident, self-harm or an illness. In fact, medical tattooing, which is also referred to as scar tattoo, scar camouflage or paramedical micro-pigmentation, is most often performed on patients after breast cancer surgery. Cleverly-placed tattoos can improve appearance where there’s a mismatch of skin colour around the areola post-treatment. Medical tattooing can also be used to conceal conditions such as alopecia and vitiligo.
The technique entails inserting pigment into the skin with a single-use fine needle, into the chosen procedure site. The pigment chosen is blended to the skin tone. In some cases, several different colours may be blended to build up the skin, to create a natural looking match to skin tones and give the appearance of a natural finish. Freckles may also be implanted to match the patient’s normal skin area. It can be used anywhere where the application of pigment aids the appearance of a region. When an area or structure is too light, it can be made darker and vice versa. In most cases, the normal pigment of the skin can be mimicked.
The result will depend on the severity of the scar and it may take more than one session for the desired outcome to be achieved. It is very important to remember that this procedure will camouflage the patient’s scar, not make it disappear. The aim of the procedure is to make the scar less noticeable and not have the eye drawn to it immediately. That said, even with the limitations that the procedure has, medical tattooing can transform a person’s self-esteem and confidence, which may have plummeted due to the presence of unsightly scarring and had a negative impact on his/her personal life and even intimate relationships.