Managing Treatments

6 Ways to Rock Your Cancer Scars

You may choose makeup or other cover-up options to minimize the appearance of cancer scars.

You’ve probably seen celebrities who have battled cancer proudly show their scars to the world, through Instagram photos, magazine photo shoots or videos. They may be topless, tattooed or just openly baring their scars. It’s becoming more mainstream to showcase cancer scars.

In practice, it may not be that easy; everyone’s comfort level is different. Accepting your scars doesn’t mean you have to show them off or go bare. Whether you choose to cover up your scars or display them, your scars are signs of your strength and the journey you’ve gone through. Here are six ways to embrace them.


Head and neck, skin and thyroid cancer commonly leave visible scars on your face or neck. As they heal, a choker or large necklace may cover them up, while looking fashionable. Eye-catching cuffs, bracelets and earrings can also hide scars or draw attention away from them.


Scarves are versatile, whether you use them to wrap your head during chemo or to conceal scars. Health Central showcases how you can wrap a scarf fashionably around your neck or drape one across your chest to cover up surgical scars.


If you’re self-conscious about your scars, you can cover them up with makeup. Or, go the opposite direction and create artwork around them with face paint or makeup designs.


Tattoos are becoming a more popular way to symbolize the cancer journey and to create artwork from the scars. For example, the Live Better With blog highlights many women who have turned their mastectomy scars into art.

Before getting a tattoo, make sure your scar is fully healed and your doctor thinks you are ready to undergo a tattoo. They require healing and do carry some risk of infection, so your immune system needs to be prepared.

Go Bare

For those who feel comfortable, you can bare your scars openly. Photo shoots can be an empowering way to reveal your scars — the SCAR Project features photos of women exposing their mastectomy scars after breast cancer. Have professional photos taken to catalog your journey after cancer. Candid shots, posed shots or artistic shots — it’s all up to you and what makes you feel beautiful.

Minimize Scars

Properly caring for your surgical incisions is important to prevent infection and ensure your scars heal properly. You may also opt to undergo reconstruction or skin grafting; scar creams might help them fade as well. Talk to your doctor about what works best to minimize the appearance of your treatment scars.

Adjusting to life and the changes in your body after cancer may take time. Whether you’re ready to go out rocking the scars openly immediately or if it takes time to accept them, you have many ways to feel beautiful and embrace your cancer scars as a part of you.

The Flourish Positive Image Boutique at UVA Cancer Center is designed to help you look and feel your best, offering everything from scarves to mastectomy bras.

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Patricia Chaney
Patricia Chaney