How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Nair Your Own Question
Dr. Nair
Dr. Nair, Dermatologist
Category: Dermatology
Satisfied Customers: 9190
Experience:  MBBS, MD (Dermatology, Venereology & Leprology)
Type Your Dermatology Question Here...
Dr. Nair is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Can I get a tattoo on a congenital nevus on the back?

This answer was rated:

I have a large congenital nevus on my back. Can I get a tattoo over it?


How big is the nevus? Does it look like any of these:

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

It covers most of my back. It is much much lighter brown than those in the pictures and has faded considerably over the years. I had laser hair removal on it and it's not hairy anymore.

Thank you for the information. I would strongly advise against getting a tattoo on the Congenital Melanocytic Nevus (CMN). The reason is that CMNs are at increased risk of developing melanomas within them, especially if they are larger than 20 cm in diameter. A tattoo will mask the underlying nevus and thus a melanoma may be missed until it has become too big or spread. Secondly tattoo pigment may irritate the melanocytes causing a confusing picture on biopsy of a suspected lesion since it will be hard to differentiate a true melanoma from a nevus with secondary changes. Hence I would advise against getting a tattoo on the CMN.
Hope this information is useful, please feel free to ask if you have any queries.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

What about a tattoo that was around some of the parts of it and incorporated the birthmark into the design. I have had the birthmark my whole life with no there still a large chance that it might develop a melanoma. If anything the birthmark has lightened and become less visible over time. Do you have any other suggestions as to what I can do to mask this birthmark? It is very embarrassing for me and I am very tired of living with it. Would getting the tattoo over it affect it in any other way, other than masking the look of the nevus?

I understand the nevus is a significant cosmetic problem but the only therapy really effective is staged surgical excision - however for a nevus covering the whole back this might not be technically feasible. Lasers don't remove the nevus completely and are generally not recommended for treating such large lesions. Yes the CMN is at an increased risk of developing melanoma throughout your life, and the incidence is 5-7% by the age of 60 years. Thus the CMN must be under 6-12 monthly follow up with your dermatologist/family physician.
Besides the concerns I voiced regarding the tattoo it is presently not known whether it can increase melanoma risk. Tattoo pigment is usually inert but some people react to it. Theoretically chronic irritation to CMN melanocytes could cause them to proliferate and this could possibly increase the risk of melanoma. However this is conjecture and to the best of my knowledge there is no proof of this yet.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

But if the tattoo were to incorporate the nevus in some way, that wouldn't cause any problems?

Well, right on the margin shouldn't be much of a problem but only as much as absolutely necessary should be included.

Dr. Nair and other Dermatology Specialists are ready to help you