Advancements in technology have expanded to include cosmetic tattooing or microdermal pigmentation. These cosmetic tattoo processes are used to improve the appearance of individuals with medically-related physical imperfections.
Medical micropigmentation techniques can be applied in many ways: Skin Camouflage helps improve the appearance of persons with skin diseases such as Vitiligo or post-inflammatory hypo-pigmentation from skin trauma. Scar Camouflage helps reduce the appearance of scars from accidents, burns, surgery, or the repair of congenital disorders such as Cleft Palate. Hair simulation helps restore the appearance of missing hair lost to disease (Cancer or Alopecia), trauma, or natural thinning within an eyebrow, moustache, or scalp. That technique can also be used to simulate hair stubble. Reconstructive camouflage helps post-mastectomy patients by creating a nipple and areola on the new reconstructed breast. The appearance of areola incision scars from breast surgeries for augmentation, reduction, and breast lift can also be masked.
Artistic Cosmetic Solutions helps improve the appearance of men and women with physical abnormalities related to the following conditions:
Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
Burns (scars, contractions)
Cleft Lip and Palate
Face Lift (scars)
Hair Transplant (scars)
Hypo-Pigmentation (missing color)
Missing Facial Hair (eyebrows, moustache)
Missing Scalp Hair (scars, bald patches)
Surgical Scars (all surgery types)
Trauma Scars (accidents, injuries)
Vitiligo (skin depigmentation)
Medical tattoos before and after
SCAR COLOR AND SKIN CAMOUFLAGE
Psychological studies have shown that self confidence increases when a person’s appearance and body image is improved. This can be achieved with medical corrective tattooing. Skin color loss (de-pigmentation) can occur from medical procedures, trauma from burns or accidents, congenital anomalies, or different types of skin diseases. Medical treatments and surgical procedures can correct or improve the appearance of many types of scars and skin abnormalities. However, some patients still need the skin color of the treated area to be “re-applied” so it appears more “normal”.
What is Skin Camouflage or Scar Camouflage?
Skin or scar camouflage is tattooing of the skin with different colors of flesh tone pigments. Its purpose is to disguise a scar or skin area that is missing pigment or color. It is a specialized area of permanent cosmetics that falls under the category of Medical or Paramedical Tattooing. This process is also called Corrective Pigment Camouflage (CPC), Corrective Camouflage, Skin Repigmentation, Scar Camouflage, Skin Camouflage, Camouflage Tattooing, and Skin Color Tattooing. The science behind pigments and the physiology of human skin and tissue must be understood by the specialist performing these procedures. These procedures require advanced knowledge, training, skills, and experience in permanent cosmetics as well as an artistic eye for color and skin tones.
Are You a Candidate for Skin Color Repigmentation?
Even if you have a scar or skin abnormality, you may not be candidate for skin repigmentation. You might be a candidate if you meet the criteria below. Your scar should be:
Healed and no longer pink or changing color: Your scar should be at least 9 to 12 months old with stable color. If it is red or pink or still changing color, the tissue may still be healing. A reputable, experienced medical tattooist will not work prematurely on scar tissue because it may cause further damage to the skin.
Smooth and relatively flat: Camouflage tattooing cannot disguise or correct extreme changes in skin texture. If your scar or skin area is bumpy or raised, the process may not be effective. (Note: If you have any skin surface irregularity, please consult with a Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon first to see if any type of medical treatments can first improve the skin texture.)
Without dark edges: Dark edges or borders around a scar indicate Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation (PIHP) from the initial trauma or surgery. It is possible that the camouflage tattooing process may increase the hyper-pigmentation and create a wider, darker border. (Note: The risk of this happening is usually greater with darker skin tones.)
NOT one of the following: Port Wine birthmarks; spider veins; freckles; age spots; under eye circles; hyper-pigmentation; or unstable Vitiligo (not in remission). These can be improved with non-tattoo medical treatments such as lasers, sclerotherapy, or chemical peels. Please consult with a physician regarding the best course of treatment for these conditions.
You might be a candidate if you also meet the criteria below. You should:
Have realistic expectations: Camouflage tattooing will not completely restore skin to the way it looked before it was injured. The process will not “erase” a scar or skin abnormality so it appears completely gone and the area looks “perfect” again. It improves color differences to help disguise the scar or anomaly and make it less noticeable to other people.
Not spend time tanning: A scar camouflage tattoo will not be a “perfect” match to the surrounding skin color. This is due to the constant changes in skin tones from blood flow, body temperature, and tanning. The pigment in the tattoo will not darken if it is exposed to sunlight or tanning booths, so the tattoo may appear lighter if the surrounding skin tans. When the tattoo color matches tanned skin, it may appear darker once the surrounding tanned skin fades. Therefore, if you spend time outdoors, you will need to adjust your lifestyle or decide to match the tattoo to “winter” or “summer” skin and live with the changes in between.
Not expect results in one session: Camouflage repigmentation is a process, not a one-time “cure”. It is performed on “unhealthy” skin that has been damaged or altered. Its response cannot be predicted—a scar or Vitiligo patch may have areas that absorb pigment, reject it, or both. The area will look dark and red immediately after a tattooing session, and then it takes several weeks to show the healed color (or not). This requires time and patience.
Before Your Camouflage Procedure
You make an appointment with us for a consultation. At the consultation we will determine if you are a candidate for scar camouflage tattooing and discuss your options. If you are a candidate, the next step will be to set an appointment for a “Spot Color Test”. Other permanent cosmetics professionals sometimes refer to this test as a “Patch Test.”
What is a Spot Color or Patch Test?
Scar and skin color camouflage is an unpredictable process. Therefore, a spot color test is the starting point for determining an appropriate combination of pigments to match the skin. In all cosmetic tattooing, including permanent makeup, the final healed color looks very different from when the pigment was initially implanted. The healed result equals the pigment color formula that was inserted under the skin plus the patient’s skin color and tones. The healed spot will indicate if that same formula can be used for the first tattooing session or if it will need to be modified.
At your spot color test appointment, we will analyze your skin tones. We will mix several combinations of pigments to determine what appears to be a good match. We will then tattoo at least one spot about the size of a pea using at least one “formula.” All pigments that have been used will be recorded in your chart for future reference. Although the tattooing process is brief, the mixing process can be very time consuming so you should allow at least one hour for this appointment. When finished, you must wait 4 to 8 weeks to see how the healed color will look. Your tattooing sessions can then begin after healing and color stabilization of the spot tattoo.
Corrective Camouflage Tattoo Sessions
Once the spot test has healed and the color stabilizes, the damaged skin can be tattooed. As artists, we have a sharp eye for colors. If we determine that the spot formula should be adjusted, we can do so at that time. we believe that cosmetic tattooing is a “partnership” with our patients because it is a multi-step process. Therefore, we will freely ask your opinion about colors and results as we work. The results after the first tattooing session may be very good. However, due to the “unpredictable” nature of most scars and skin abnormalities, a second, third, or even fourth session may be necessary for the best outcome. Fortunately, the color formula or technique can be modified at each session to improve results. Sessions should be scheduled approximately 6 to 8 weeks apart to allow for complete healing and color stabilization.
Areola Repigmentation is a specialty area of medical tattooing that requires advanced education, training, and experience. These procedures help improve the appearance and self esteem of both women and men who have undergone breast surgery. Areola Repigmentation techniques can “create” an areola after breast reconstruction, minimize the appearance of scars, or restore an areola to a more natural looking color and shape. Areola Repigmentation may also be called Areola Tattooing, Areola Micropigmentation, Areola Pigmentation, Areola Recoloring, Areola Restoration, or Areola Simulation.
How Areola Repigmentation Helps People After Breast Surgery
The areola is part of the human breast in both women and men. It is a circular area of skin around the nipple that is often darker and thicker than the surrounding skin. The areola plays a key role in the aesthetic look of a breast. Since a woman’s self-image can depend on the appearance of her breasts, a missing areola can be psychologically devastating. A woman can survive breast cancer after undergoing a mastectomy, and she can regain her figure with a breast reconstruction. However, she may not feel “complete” without an areola. A woman can become emotionally distressed from a scarred areola as well. A man’s self-esteem can also be lowered by the appearance of his chest and breasts. Areola tattooing provides the “finishing touch” after breast surgery. Patients feel the tattooing process helps them during the last part of their recovery to look complete and feel “whole” and “normal” again.
What Causes Areola Scars?
Surgical procedures on the breast can create a scar if they require an incision at or around the edge of the areola. The scar that is left is called a peri-areolar scar. Some breast surgeries also create a vertical scar from the nipple through the lower portion of the breast that may need to be camouflaged. The following are breast surgical procedures that may create a scar: Breast Augmentation or Enlargement (Augmentation Mammoplasty); Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty); Breast Lift (Mastopexy); and Male Breast Reduction (Gynecomastia).
Post-Surgical Areola Tattooing Techniques
Areola-Nipple Complex Simulation: This procedure is for patients who have had breast reconstruction after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Cosmetic tattooing techniques and color pigments are used to create the appearance of an areola. For a unilateral mastectomy patient, this process helps the reconstructed breast to match the natural breast. For patients with bilateral breast reconstruction, both areolas are recreated. Areola complex simulation can be achieved with or without a nipple button created by the surgeon.
Areola Scar Camouflage: Many breast operations require one or more incisions at or around the edge of the areola which may produce scarring. The most common peri-areolar scars are from breast augmentation or reduction surgeries. A scar’s appearance can be softened, blended, or reduced by tattooing the areola scar using corrective pigment camouflage techniques.
Areola Size or Color Adjustment: The color of an areola can be darkened, balanced, or enhanced with tattooing. The process helps women who have discolored or lightened areolas after breastfeeding or patients who have had areola graft surgery. Patients with skin discoloration disorders (e.g. Vitiligo) can also benefit from areola tattooing. Also, individuals who have not had breast surgery but are self-conscious about their areola color or size (too light or too small) may choose this procedure to adjust their appearance.
Waiting and Preparing For Your Procedure
Areola simulation or scar camouflage can be performed when your physician approves it. Dr. Reed openly communicates with her patient’s surgeons and she follows all recommendations made by them. Scar camouflage can usually be performed as soon as 6 months after surgery, but you should first ask your physician. Once you have been cleared for areola tattooing, you can schedule your consultation with Dr. Reed. During your consultation, she will discuss your concerns and recommend a treatment plan that she feels will provide optimum results. She will also provide you with specific guidelines to prepare for your procedure.
Design, Color, and Spot Testing
Dr. Reed has a complete assortment of hypo-allergenic areola pigment colors. She will work with you to select a color or colors that look the most natural for you. For scar camouflage or unilateral areola recreation, she recommends a spot color test before the actual procedure is performed. A patient’s skin tone and body chemistry will affect the healed color of their tattooed areas. Therefore, the spot test is the safest way to determine the formula for the closest color match to an existing areola. The color spot test is scheduled as an individual appointment. It should be completed 4 to 6 weeks before the actual tattooing procedure to allow for healing and color stabilization. Once the spot is healed and the color is evaluated, the areola tattooing sessions can begin. You should also keep in mind that a simulated or scarred areola will probably need more than one tattooing session to achieve the best looking result.