Surgery consists of preoperative, the surgery itself, and post-operative care. During each, various tests are conducted and the doctors will ask you to follow some strict instructions and medication.
This part of the surgery is where you are preparing your body for the surgery itself. Some instructions include not eating for a certain time period before the surgery, keeping your body clean, and shaving any body hair you have on the part that will be operated on. And just like before getting your tattoo, you will be asked not to drink alcohol and stop any blood-thinning medication. This is to prevent any bleeding during the surgery itself. The doctors will run you through some testing such as blood tests, x-rays, etc.
The good news is that during surgery, you have to do nothing at all! All you need to do is show up after having gone through the preoperative care. The anesthesiologist will administer the anesthesia that will numb your body so you feel nothing during the surgery. It will be like you are in deep sleep.
Once the surgery is done, post-operative care starts. Usually, you are kept in the hospital for a few days to observe for any post-surgery complications. And after that, you will be instructed on medication and the do-and-don’ts, again much like after getting a tattoo so that your body heals properly. The doctor might also ask for further tests to check on your body conditions.
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Now that we got the very basics of surgery out of the way, let’s look at how a new tattoo gotten right before surgery will affect it. As I always mention, a tattoo is like an open wound. With the rate at which the skin is getting pierced, it takes a while for the tattoo to fully heal.
And before it heals, some of the complications that a new tattoo cause for surgery are:
Open wounds mean that there is a risk of getting an infection, and infections risk compromising surgery. Any signs of infection and the doctors will probably reschedule the surgery for a later date. That is why before surgery, you are given antibiotics so that there is as little chance as possible for an infection to occur during or after the surgery. With a tattoo skin being exposed to possible infections, a tattoo right before surgery is a huge no.
If your new tattoo is over the area you are being operated on, then the surgery will definitely be canceled. There is a higher chance of infection and skin tissue damage, not to mention that new tattoo ink has not set in so the tattoo will get disfigured and the ink might get inside your body!
Because the skin is being pierced at an area where there is a bunch of blood vessels, a little bit of the tattoo ink particles gets into the blood. Not to worry about it too much because the ink particles are in very small amounts and passed out to the body through the liver. But a new tattoo? Now that might complicate blood tests that doctors and nurses have to do to get you ready for the surgery.
Not really a cause for concern, unless you have tattoos on your fingers! Doctors use pulse oximeters, a little device that goes over your finger, to monitor your heart rate. The simplest way I can explain how they work is that they use infrared light to monitor your heart and oxygen rates. So what happens when the light is blocked by a tattoo? Then there is the problem of inaccurate readings. So unless you have tattoos on all your fingers, this shouldn’t be something that you might be worried about, but it has the potential to disrupt surgery.
It is a known fact that tattoo inks have metals such as iron, cobalt, nickel, etc. There are many but these three mentioned can interfere with magnetic resonating imaging or MRI for short. Older or healed tattoos won’t pose much of a problem because the ink has set in, so MRIs are pretty safe then. But a new tattoo where excess ink leaks from your skin? Big problem. Iron, cobalt, and nickel have magnetic properties so they might cause problems during the MRI and cause the tattoo to become distorted.
Anesthesia is administered at the base of the spine to help numb your body for surgery. A tattoo over your lower back might cause the anesthesiologist problems as they might not be able to see the specific part of what to do. And a new tattoo might cause the ink to get into the spinal area, which can cause health complications.
Remember that blood thinners are a big no-no for tattoos? Well, for post-operative care, you will be given some blood-thinning medication after surgery to minimize the risk of a blood clot occurring. And this is bad for your tattoo as thinner blood vessels will cause the tattoo to bleed a lot more and the ink will not have a chance to set at all!
With all this information, I can safely suggest that a new tattoo right before surgery should be avoided at all costs! There are too many problems that might be caused by the new tattoo so definitely postpone till after you have recovered from the surgery to get a new tattoo.
I once had to get surgery a few weeks after my tattoo session. After consulting the doctor and letting them know that I just had a new tattoo done and it still has not recovered properly, the doctor suggested that I should wait a few more weeks to get surgery. He explained a lot of the risk factors and how tests might give false and inaccurate readings that will make surgery difficult. I even consulted him that the sight of the operation will be over one of my existing tattoos. But he assured me that he had many patients who had surgery over old tattoos and the surgery scar was basically not noticeable after a year.
I waited an extra month to get the surgery, and I can say that the doctors were careful about my old tattoo. The scar has healed nicely over the years and it doesn’t even look like I had surgery there!
Does a lower back tattoo affect surgery?
It might cause the anesthesiologist some problems administering the anesthesia you need for the surgery.
Do tattoo ink contain metals?
Due to the nature of pigments, tattoo ink contains a variety of metals to get the color.
How long after surgery can I get a tattoo?
You have to wait until after you have completely healed from the surgery to get a tattoo. This is because there might be still a risk of infection and new tattoos are prone to getting infections. Also, you have to be completely off blood-thinning medication before you get a tattoo. Otherwise, your new tattoo will bleed and get ruined.
Many people worry about tattoos and how they might look after surgery. I’m here to say that the tattoo will not affect the surgery at all! But a new tattoo right before surgery is a big no. There are too many complications, and the risk of infection alone should be enough reason to postpone the tattoo till you have recovered from the surgery. You can always get a tattoo at a later time, but surgery should be given more priority for this.
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