If you are considering a new plastic surgery procedure or are going to have a tattoo after the surgery, there are certain common sense rules to consider. The answer depends on a few factors you should consider if you have an upcoming plastic surgery procedure. Let our Boston cosmetic surgeons explain:

In any surgical procedure, infection is always something your doctor is aware of and tries at all costs to prevent. When you have a tattoo, it also takes time to heal, and tattoos are known to have infections themselves. If you have the tattoo done too close to the area of the procedure, and it gets infected, then surely your doctor would wait until the tattoo is completely healed.

This may be true even if the tattoo is not all that close the upcoming surgery site. Most physicians would agree that no surgery should be done on a patient that is showing any signs of current infection (unless the surgery is mandatory at the time).

If the tattoo site is near the plastic surgery site, then waiting to have the tattoo done maybe your safest decision. So how long should you wait?

Any elective cosmetic surgery you have needs time to completely heal. Your cosmetic surgeon will almost certainly counsel that you need to wait until your surgery completely heals and is free of infection. After that time, it certainly would be okay to have your tattoo done.

The type of surgery you have and where it will happen also comes into play. If you are having a tattoo put on your wrist, and you are going to have body sculpture surgery done on your abdomen, the two really should not affect each other. If the surgery to be done is at, or near, the tattoo site, then more issues may be involved.

Take the “tummy tuck” as an example. If you want a tattoo on your abdomen, and near the surgery site, you may have it done, but the surgical procedure may alter or deform the tattoo. This would be another reason to wait on the tattoo until your cosmetic surgery is fully healed.

Any specifics should always be discussed with your Boston or Wellesley cosmetic surgeon. They will always provide you with the best medical advice based on your particular situation.

Is it Safe to Get a Tattoo Close to the Time of My Plastic Surgery?

If you get a tattoo now, and you plan on the plastic surgery months from now, certainly it would be safe to do. Some patients, however, want to have the tattoo and the plastic surgery done at or near the same time to reduce the recovery time for both. This is a prime example of an incidence in which you need to consult with your cosmetic surgeon.

Depending on what procedure is being done, where and when it is, and other serious medical factors, your doctor will give you the best advice. The most important consideration is always the fast and infection-free healing of both procedures.

Infection can occur after tattoos and even the most well-done and safe of plastic surgery procedures. If there is any chance one procedure will affect the other, your cosmetic surgeon will guide you to the best (and safest) direction.

The most accepted rule is that if you have already scheduled cosmetic surgery, wait on the tattoo until the surgery is sufficiently healed, and then get the tattoo.

Will My Current Tattoo Affect my Plastic Surgery?

If you have a current Tattoo, and it was done a while ago, it should be fully healed and there should be no plausible reason you should not have the plastic surgery. The main issue would be as to how plastic surgery may affect the tattoo.

For example, if you have a large rose tattoo on your breast and are going to have a breast reduction procedure done. The tattoo may become deformed or destroyed by the surgery itself. The tattoo may look completely different after the surgery, and you may need to have it removed, or redone if possible.

There may be instances where you want the tattoo removed during the surgery, as it is evident that too much damage will be done to it. Discuss this fully with your cosmetic surgeon before your procedure. Some of the issues you should get answers to are “Can it be done,” “Are there alternatives suggested,” and “Is it safe?”

What Types of Plastic Surgery Can Affect My Tattoo?

Several cosmetic surgeries can affect how your tattoo looks and even whether or not you want to keep it after your surgery.

Examples are:

Body lift surgeries on post-weight loss patients are fairly common. There are two main types, which are:

  • Lower body lifts: this procedure typically combines a tummy tuck, buttock lift, and thigh lift.
  • Upper body lifts: this typically includes a bra line back lift, lateral chest skin excision, and breast lift.

Both these types may alter or deform any tattoos directly in the surgical area.

Consider the common “tummy tuck” (an example of a skin repositioning procedure) as an example of how the skin is altered during body contouring procedures. During a tummy tuck, skin on the abdomen is pulled downward toward the pubic area to tighten it. The skin originally on the lower abdomen is then trimmed off, while skin originally on the upper abdomen is stretched down to cover the lower abdomen. This change even requires the formation of a new bellybutton.

Any tattoos would stay with the original skin. Tattoos located on the lower abdomen are trimmed off completely, and tattoos on the upper abdomen are moved to the lower abdomen, possibly appearing a bit stretched or deformed.

Helping patients regain their confidence and self-esteem is one of the main reasons cosmetic procedures are done. Discuss all the aspects of your tattoo (either present or future) with your cosmetic surgeon. It is always best to be as prepared and informed as possible.