If you are coming for self harm scarring camouflage with medical tattooing please be aware that you may have a revisit to some of the emotions that you felt when originally self harming.
Usually I see people a long time after the incidents of cutting. The scars have healed and the pain has been somewhat processed. Perhaps they have moved on and had families of their own, jobs, friends, relationships.
Perhaps they don’t want the kids to start asking questions, perhaps they don’t want work colleagues asking questions. So they search for help. What can be done? How do the scars become less visible?
Unfortunately there are not many options. If the scars are really excessive, perhaps scar revision is something to be considered. However often consultants may advise that may leave an even bigger scar and it wouldn’t improve the area visibly. So the last resort is Medical tattooing or Camouflage cream. Camouflage cream is temporary, it sits on the skin to cover the area and needs to be applied on a daily or whenever needed basis. tattooing however is a different situation. You are inserting a needle, a sharp object, albeit tiny, into the area concerned. This can stimulate memories of the original cutting and pull people very quickly back in to those emotions. Hopefully, they have been given (through counselling or other therapeutic help) or found through their own research and experience, coping mechanisms to deal with these feelings. But what if they haven’t? What if there whole world comes crumbling around them and they now have young children and a professional job to support. Sending them out of the clinic with no support in this field can be harmful.
So what can you do? As a practitioner or as a patient.
Well, as a practitioner you need to be aware of this as a situation. You need to have a referral system so you can at least give a number and a name out to your patient of a reputable practitioner that can handle this kind of situation.
As a patient? Make sure you have your support system in place. Make sure friends and family members that you trust know that you may be undergoing this kind of treatment. Put all the coping mechanisms in place before you start. You may not need them, but if you do, they are already there.
As I was writing this blog, a patient of mine commented that had she known all those years ago, in her moments of cutting (of which there were few) that the resulting scarring would still be visible to everyone around her, friends and strangers included, she may have thought twice. She didn’t understand that her thoughts and feelings that she was experiencing in those moments would be visible by the scars for the rest of her life. She would feel judged as a self harmer by everyone that saw her, even if she only did it in 1 session, when drunk, when angry, when upset; 15 years later the reminder of that event is visible on her arm.
Its very difficult to get young people to understand the effect of time, the effect of growing up and how much you may change over that time. Self harming is often an energy release, and they have no other known methods of which to control their emotions.
Medical Tattooing can help with the long term visible effect, but it will never get rid of the scarring. It may improve the discolouration. It may improve the texture of the scar. it will not take away the shininess and it will not get rid of the scar. But layers of skin coloured pigment inserted into the skin over a period of time can take away the whiteness of the scarring, take away the obviousness of the discolouration, and help to make the whole area less noticeable not only to others, but to oneself as well.