Q. Can I cover up my birthmark with a tattoo?

Answered by
Dr. Suvash Sahu
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Hello doctor,

I am attaching a picture of a mark. Can you tell me if this is a melanoma? It has been that size for a long time but, it looks a little weird.

Dr. Suvash Sahu

Cosmetology Dermatology Venereology


Welcome to icliniq.com.

From your description and the given picture (attachment removed to protect patient identity), it seems you have a mole or melanocytic nevus. They are considered benign melanomas and nothing actively needs to be done for them.

If the mole shows a sudden increase in size, differential pigmentation, bleeding, irregular borders, etc., then you may go for a skin biopsy.

If you want to get it removed for purely cosmetic reasons, then you may choose any of the following:

  1. Shave excision under a local anesthesia by a dermatologist.
  2. TCA (trichloroacetic acid) cautery.
  3. Radiofrequencycautery.
  4. Laser treatment.

For more information consult a dermatologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist

Thank you doctor,

Also, I have a light brown birthmark on the side of my ribs. I want to cover it up with a tattoo. It is not raised.

My doctor told me that it was just a discoloration. But, I want a second opinion.

Dr. Suvash Sahu

Cosmetology Dermatology Venereology


Welcome back to icliniq.com.

I have read your query and understand your concerns.

From your description, it seems you have a Becker's nevus (birth mark). Please get a review with a picture for confirmation of diagnosis. If it is a Becker nevus, you can go for a laser removal in the place of a tattoo.

The earliest finding of a Becker nevus is an asymptomatic irregular tan to brown patch, most commonly located over the shoulder, upper chest, or back.

Therapeutic intervention for Becker nevus is primarily for cosmetic reasons.

Q-switched ruby laser (694 nm) has been used with variable success in the treatment of the hyperpigmentation of Becker nevus.

Revert with more information to a dermatologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist

Hello doctor,

Thanks for your reply. I do not want to go for laser surgery. I would much better get a tattoo. Would that be any harm?

Like I said, it is not raised. I went to a doctor and he said that the birthmark is not cancerous.

If I get a tattoo over it, would that cause problems?

Dr. Suvash Sahu

Cosmetology Dermatology Venereology


Welcome back to icliniq.com.

I have read your query and examined your picture (attachment removed to protect patient identity).

It is a Becker's nevus. The only problem with this kind of a nevus is a subsequent change in the morphology and hair growth over the nevus.

The histopathology of this type of nevus shows an increase in melanin in the basal epidermal layer and in the dermis, the number of arrector pili muscles are increased.

The tattoo dye can also get accumulated in the dermis. So, there may be chances of it converting to a smooth muscle hamartoma.

Tattoos, by itself, are associated with many complications like sarcoidosis, keloid formation, etc.

So, in my opinion, you should not go for tattooing this area.

For more information consult a dermatologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist

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