Can You Get A Tattoo Over A Birthmark? Your Guide To Birthmarks And Tattoos

Written by: Claudia
Updated:

People choose to cover certain regions and marks on their bodies for personal reasons. One such mark could be a birthmark. Some people may choose to transform something they are uncomfortable with into a beautiful art piece of their choice, but should they? We dive into whether tattooing over birthmarks is a good idea.

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What Is a Birthmark?

Birthmarks have a name that essentially describe exactly what they are: a mark that appears on the skin since birth. There are two variations of birthmarks that someone could have:

  • Pigmented - An abundance of pigmented cells in one area, such as brown or red birthmarks
  • Vascular - A cluster of malformed veins in one region

Birthmarks can appear absolutely anywhere on the body, be in a multitude of color variations, and could be any size. Birthmarks are not to be confused with moles, but congenital moles also appear at birth.

Birthmarks do not cause any pain or discomfort other than some people not finding them visually appealing. They should not show any signs of bleeding, pus, or irritation. Some experience more hair growth, but are otherwise similar to the skin that surrounds them.

Here’s Why Doctors Say You Shouldn’t Tattoo Over Birthmarks

You could tattoo over your birthmark. In fact, many people do. Many people also choose designs that highlight the design of their birthmark without actually tattooing on the birthmark itself.

birthmark with tattoo

An example of someone using their birthmark in their design but not tattooing on the birthmark.

Despite tattooing over birthmarks being available to you, it should be reconsidered. Doctors say that tattooing over birthmarks could lead to severe health issues down the line.

Birthmarks can change over time, often displaying early signs of melanoma, or skin cancer, wher the skin. Fifty percent of melanoma cases develop in pre-existing moles and birthmarks, making this skin abnormality a potential lifesaver.

If you cause trauma to this skin and inject pigments into it, it will be difficult for doctors to monitor this region for potential skin issues.

A clinical professor of dermatology named Dr. Hooman Khorsani said, "It is harder to do surveillance on moles that are covered by tattoos, as the tattoo ink camouflages the mole and sometimes interferes with some of the tools we use for detection." In addition, these highly sensitive regions, where the cell composition differs from the rest of the skin, may react differently to the ink.

Doctors state that in order to identify melanoma in birthmarks after they’ve been tattooed, you’d need to go through a laser tattoo removal procedure. Unfortunately, Dr. Khorsani also says, “Once you start the laser removal, the laser can also remove the pigment that the melanoma cells make called melanocytes. Therefore, any irregular pigment that one would expect to detect will not be detected as easily. This is the reason that some subtypes of melanoma, called amelanotic melanomas, are more dangerous and aggressive."

Tattooing over moles presents the same concern, so why not turn to cover up if you have an issue with your birthmark? We compiled a list of 5 Of The Best Cover Up Makeups To Hide Your Tattoo - if it can cover your tattoo, it can certainly cover your birthmark.

Our Final Thoughts

tattoo design with birthmark

Although tattooing over birthmarks is often accepted by artists, it’s usually done so without a thorough understanding of the risks it could present in the future. For your overall skin health and to keep you protected, it’s better to avoid tattooing over birthmarks. If you’re still on the fence, speak to your doctor or medical professional who can give you the best advice and warn you of the risks associated with this choice.

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