There are lots of reasons to get tattoos. Most people get them for aesthetics, while others get them as a reminder of something or someone special. But some people get inked to cover up something they’d rather forget or to beautify scars that make them feel self-conscious.

Whether it’s a surgical scar, scars caused by injuries from an abusive relationship, or self-harm scars, getting some ink can be a great way to turn something that brought pain into a work of art. Here are 34 such examples. Let us know which ones are your favorites in the comments!

1.

francis_field | Instagram

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BelfastTattooCollective | Instagram

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ajinktattoo | Instagram

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jamestattoo_chiangmai

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badwulf | Reddit

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siclovanandrei | Instagram

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ilwolhongdam | Instagram

8.

“I got a Sylvia Plath tattoo. She’s my absolute favorite poet/author. Her quote ‘I am. I am. I am’ (from her book ‘The Bell Jar’) symbolizes that suicide could’ve been the end for me, but I’m here, ‘I am’ I am here, I am alive and I am determined to get through this. The cat is Sylvia’s drawing called ‘Curious French Cat’ and it also symbolizes self-harm and depression — but how it’s not the answer anymore.” — Shannon P.

Shannon P.

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Masa Tattooer | Instagram

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juanchotattoo1982 | Instagram

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tattoobyunique | Instagram

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Reddit

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romanordtattoo | Instagram

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soltattoo | Instagram

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mighele | Instagram

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beautiful-nightmares12 | Tumblr

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“What inspired me to get tattoos to cover my scars was so whenever I was down or having a bad day, I could look down at my newly painted arm and remember that overcoming something can lead to beautiful things. My next step is to cover the scars of my other arm and my leg. It’s never easy, but by getting them covered up, it’s a little bit like closure.” — Lauren S.

Lauren S.

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SwollenGoat68 | Reddit

19.

bodyartbymei | Instagram

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bexhope | Imgur

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denisenko_tattoo | Instagram

22.

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hombroycodo | Instagram

24.

volkantattooz | Instagram

25.

erdogancavdar | Instagram

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tatoobaku | Instagram

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sygov_ | Instagram

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Custom Tattoo Design | Instagram

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garnettattoo.com

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boredpanda

31.

She was so embarrassed, she told me how much pain it brought her when people would question her about them or make comments, which is completely understandable. As I’ve said in the past no one should ever have to feel like a public museum for people to ridicule. The things these people have fought through is admirable and they deserve to know that. People will immediately label self-harm as an act of weakness. I think to crawl out of that abyss and still be here, in this life that honestly is already so brief, and to have changed your life around into a positive is commendable.

Whitney Develle | Instagram

32.

I got this tattoo to cover a scar from an abusive boyfriend. He broke my arm and I had a metal plate put in it. I still went back to him many times. That scar reminded me of how weak I was and I wanted something beautiful instead. My cousin whom I was really close to committed suicide a couple months ago and I wanted to honor him. He called me unicorn.

jenniesimpkinsj | Buzzfeed

33.

These forearm scars are (pretty obviously) from self-harm and they're from almost 14 years ago. Been wanting to cover it with a tattoo for half my life, but I guess just recently developed the metaphorical balls to finally do it. So happy!

Jess Plays | Reddit

34.

My sophomore year of high school I fell during a trampoline routine at gymnastics practice and shattered my left arm. After eight months of surgeries… I was left with an arm that not only hurt constantly and didn’t work, but also didn’t look like my own. Surgeries to remove dead muscle and scar tissue had distorted my forearm, and the scars scattered across my arm and hand felt unsightly and ugly. This tattoo, my first, was a present to myself when I turned 18 as a way to reclaim my body after it had been irreparably damaged, and to turn my scars into something beautiful. I didn’t want to cover up the surgical scars because they were, and are, such an important part of who I am now, but I wanted to transform them into something I was proud of. The bird is an eastern bluebird.

rachelb440d04484 | Buzzfeed

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