At times, individuals who are on blood thinners are considering getting a tattoo. I am not aware of any medical publication assessing the amount of bleeding that were to occur if a patient got a tattoo while on warfarin or other blood thinners. However, some degree of bleeding is common even in the individual who is NOT on warfarin: A medical publication reported that the majority (76 %) of 664 army soldiers who had a tattoo reported small to moderate bleeding during the tattooing procedure [ref 1]. In another study, approximately 5 % of nearly 6,00o individuals receiving a tattoo reported some bleeding [ref 2]. I would expect that the bleeding would be even more on blood thinners. Would the degree of bleeding cause any medical problems? I don’t know. Would the quality of the tattoo be less as some of the injected pigment may bleed or leak out? I don’t know. There does not appeasr to be any published report on tattooing in patients on blood thinners.
In view of the lack of data, I would, at present, advise against getting a tattoo while on warfarin or any other blood thinner (i.e. warfarin = coumadin®, Jantoven®; Dabigatran = Pradaxa®; Enoxaparin = Lovenox®; Dalteparin = Fragmin®; Tinzaparin = Innoep®). However, if a patient is very keen on getting a tattoo and is not at very high risk for blood clots, it would be reasonable to discontinue warfarin 5 days prior to getting the tattoo and restarting it the evening of the day the tattooing has taken place, similar to the way warfarin is managed at times of non-major medical and surgical procedures. In the case of the person on the blood thinner Pradaxa, discontinuation 2 – 2½ days prior to getting the tattoo (and longer if the person’s kidney function is not normal) would be appropriate.
1. Armstrong ML et al. Tattooed army soldiers: examining the incidence, behavior, and risk. Military Medicine 2000;165:135-141.
2. Klügl I et al. Incidence of Health Problems Associated with Tattooed Skin: A Nation-Wide Survey in German-Speaking Countries. Dermatology 2010;221:43-50.
Last updated: Aug 17th, 2011
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