Tattoos and piercing have become commonplace body adornments in our culture. Personally I view it as an individual’s right to personal expression. Both are in a way forms of body adornment. They relate to the concept of plastic surgery. We as humans want to look our best.

Culturally people from all walks of life find it fulfilling to have one or more tattoos.  This is likewise for piercings, too. Any negative conclusions drawn toward individuals with these types of body adornments are often due to some degree of bigotry and prejudice. They are in fact a form of artistic expression. Both require a great degree of creative artistry and attention to anatomic detail. After all, tattooing delivers different color inks into the dermis creating permanent pigmentation. There are forms of temporary tattooing that can easily be removed. Furthermore, they often make people feel more confident.

Historically,  the oldest tattoo on a body of a human was found in a glacier in the Alps. The estimation is to be from approximately 3000 BC. Mummies are found dating back also to the 3000 BC era. These are found as recently as 2018. The majority of tattooing in North America occurred during the mid to late 18th century. Sailors returning from the South Pacific islands got tattoos. In the South Pacific tattooing is prevalent and a cultural requirement.  Sailors brought it to Europe and then to America. The first American tattoo artist was a German immigrant who had a shop in New York City in 1846.

Tattoos and Piercings in Regards to Cosmetic Surgery

So today we see a high percentage of our patients with tattoos and piercings. Just as with plastic surgery these are very personal issues. However, they impact plastic surgical procedures in several ways. All metal piercings must be taken off prior to surgery. The reason is during surgery various forms of electric current are in use. For example, cautery equipment is in use to control intra-operative bleeding. Metal may attract this electric current. This can cause potential damage to the piercing site. These piercings can be put back on once the healing process is complete.  So essentially electrical arc burns could result if piercings are left in place during elective surgery.

As far as tattooing goes, often times the tattoo may be in the area of skin that could be removed with surgical procedures. Any tattoo on the breast in the operative site for breast lift or breast reduction might partially or completely eliminate by the procedure. Furthermore, tummy tuck or abdominoplasty patients may have a tattoo around the belly button. They may have one on the lower abdomen, or possibly the groin area. All sorts of decorative tattoos in this area may be removed.  Or, it will possibly show distortion with a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty.

So be certain that if you pursue certain types of cosmetic surgery you may face a change or distortion. You may possibly even eliminate a tattoo. I find all of my patients are willing to make the sacrifice for an improvement in their body.

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