Paramedical Scar Camouflaging
Performed at our Duluth, GA medical office, north of Atlanta.
Everyone’s skin has some degree of variation in color, but there are a variety of reasons that can cause a loss of color in specific spots or patches on the skin (often called hypopigmentation or depigmentation). One of the most common culprits is scarring. Whether it happens as the result of a burn, injury, surgery, or even stretch marks, scar tissue is your body’s way of healing and replacing skin. However, scar tissue does not contain melanocytes—the type of skin cells which produce pigment. As a result, after the initial redness fades, scars typically become white or lighter in color than your natural skin. While there is no way to actually regrow melanocytes, advancements in medical cosmetic technology have led to a procedure that has offered relief for patients across the country that they didn’t know they could experience.
It’s called paramedical camouflaging (also known as scar camouflaging or paramedical tattooing). Essentially, this procedure involves tattooing the whitened skin with pigment so that it matches the surrounding skin. While that seems simple enough, it requires specialized training and techniques to both blend with the subtle color variations in your natural skin and also to adjust for the unique ways scarred skin reacts to pigment, because it can behave quite differently than normal skin. Our paramedical professionals are specially trained and certified in camouflaging, and can achieve excellent results for conditions such as:
- Surgical scars
- Scars from burns or injuries
- Improper tattoo removal
- Stretch marks
- Loss of areolas due to mastectomy and breast reconstruction
If you have hypopigmentation or would like to restore your areolas after breast reconstruction, schedule a complimentary consultation at Laser Lights Cosmetic Laser Center to find out whether camouflaging may be the right option for you.
Frequently Asked Questions about Paramedical Scar Camouflaging
Who is a candidate for paramedical tattooing?
Camouflaging is best for flat, depigmented areas. It is generally not an option for uncontrolled, progressive conditions like vitiligo (in which the skin loses pigmentation in progressively larger patches of skin), or for scars that are raised, bumpy, or darker than your natural skin color. It’s also important that you wait until a scar has fully healed before starting the camouflaging process. Your scar should have lost all signs of pinkness—generally around 6-12 months after the surgery or injury. Certain medications are incompatible with the procedure as well, so for all these reasons, it’s important to begin with a personal consultation with our paramedical professional.
If my scar is bumpy, is there anything I can do to make it eligible for paramedical camouflaging?
This varies on a patient-by-patient bases, but in some cases, we can begin with scar reduction treatments like Réjuvapen® microneedling or CO2 fractionated laser skin resurfacing, which can improve the texture of the skin by promoting controlled healing. This may be able to flatten and smooth your scar enough to make camouflaging a successful option.
If camouflaging uses tattooing technology, can’t I just have a tattoo artist do it?
Paramedical camouflaging and traditional tattooing are two very different skill sets. First, camouflaging is often done on skin with some degree of scar tissue. This skin can absorb and reject pigment in a very different way than “normal” skin. Second, if you look closely at your skin, you’ll see that it’s not just one solid color—there are slight variations in color. A paramedical professional needs to be able to mimic this slight variation in order to truly blend the pigment and make it look natural. All of this requires specialized training and certification, which our paramedicals at Laser Lights have completed.
Will I need recovery time after my paramedical tattooing appointment?
Generally, camouflaging simply results in some temporary redness and sensitivity in the treated area after your appointment, and while you will be given specific aftercare instructions to follow closely, patients don’t typically need to take time off work. This can, however, depend on what your job entails, so you can discuss the details at your initial consultation.
Will I see results immediately after my camouflaging session?
It takes some time for your skin to heal and for the pigment to settle after paramedical camouflaging—generally four to six weeks. Depending on the specific circumstances, most patients will receive two to three treatments in order to perfect the appearance without overworking the already delicate tissue.
Will my results still look natural if my scar is in a place with hair, like my scalp?
We actually have a specialized technique called hair simulation, in which we use tiny specks of color within the rest of the pigmentation to create the look of hair follicles. This is typically most successful for maintaining a natural look for scars within the hairline or for areas which usually have “stubble,” like a man’s beard.
How does areola reconstruction work after breast reconstruction?
Breast cancer patients who have undergone mastectomy and breast reconstruction have already seen how effectively plastic and reconstructive surgeons can re-create the shape of a breast, but in many cases, the areola is no longer apparent after the process is finished. Using paramedical tattooing, we can simulate the natural coloration of the areola and nipple to put the “finishing touches” on your new chest. We can also use similar techniques for patients who have scarring in their areolas or who are unhappy with the small size of their areolas.