This story was originally published on November 21, 2016.
Fact: Stretch marks happen. (Even models like Chrissy Teigen get them.) Not that that's anything to be ashamed of. In fact, if we've learned anything from Teigen and #stretchmarksaturday posts, it’s that there’s real power in owning the look, sharing it if you want, and then moving the eff on.
But for people whose stretch marks get in the way of them being their most confident selves — and there's no shame in that either, because that's just as common — there’s Rudolph Torres. He's a tattoo artist who uses body art to create the illusion of banished stretch marks.
On Instagram, the Brazilian artist says that he pioneered an exclusive technique that uses striped marks camouflaged with flesh-colored ink and tattoo shading. By filling in stretch marks that are two to three shades lighter than a client’s regular skin tone, he makes them magically fade. In his posts, Torres points out that the process is truly a form of tattooing — not to be confused with micropigmentation, a.k.a. semi-permanent makeup.
Judging from the before and after pictures alone, the process does seem to hide stretch marks from view. And S. Manjula Jegasothy, a Miami-based aesthetic dermatologist, says the concept theoretically checks out — although issues could arise in the execution.
First, she says, it's important to vet the artist and ensure he or she has a myriad of ink colors to find you the perfect match to your skin tone — not the stretch marks themselves. And even then, you still may not know how well the process concealed the marks until long after the appointment ended, she points out. (For his part, Torres only posts "after" shots that were taken by the patients themselves.)
“You don’t really know how it’s going to look for another four or five weeks, until the ink sets in,” she says. “Until [it gets beneath the] dermis of the skin, you’re not going to know the final color match.”
As for Dr. Jaime S. Schwartz, a Beverly Hills-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon, he's more concerned about masking stretch marks with body art. “The problem with tattoos is that they are permanent,” he says. “If you don't like them or your skin changes, you are stuck with them.”
Further, the surgeon notes that stretch-marked skin may not be the best place for tattoo work. “Stretch marks are scars in the dermis, or collagen portion of the skin,” he says. “Tattooing this area may not take the pigment as well and could possibly make it look worse.”
Unfortunately, the skin concern is difficult to treat in other ways, Schwartz admits. So if tattooing appeals to you, this technique may be worth a shot. Especially if you're eager to upload your own confident derrière post.