Body art is a popular form of self-expression these days – and you may even be thinking about getting a tattoo or piercing yourself. While medical professionals caution people with haemophilia against getting any body art, what you do with your body is ultimately up to you – so it’s important that you fully understand the associated risks before making any decisions.
Obviously the greatest specific risk associated with tattoos and piercings for people with haemophilia is excessive bleeding, but you will also need to consider the risk of infection and allergic reactions to the metal or dyes used when planning any form of body art. Although it is not advised, if you do decide to go ahead and get a tattoo or a piercing, there are a number of precautions you will need to take to minimise the risks.
- Discuss your plans with your Haemophilia Treatment Centre. Your doctor can give you the best advice regarding the procedure, pain, follow-up care and potential complications. In some cases you may need to treat yourself with clotting factor replacement therapy before and after the tattoo or piercing – particularly if you have severe haemophilia. Your doctor can also give you advice on which parts of your body might be best for your body art (e.g. the head, neck and mouth carry greater risks).
- Consider discussing your plans with your parents or guardian. They can help you weigh up whether the risks associated with tattoos and piercings are really worth it. In some cases you may also need their consent if you are under the age of 18.
- Research the various artists in your area. Ensure that whoever you choose has the appropriate licenses and that they adhere to stringent safety guidelines. You should also inform your chosen artist of your condition and its implications. You may be asked to sign a consent form that includes a clause stating that people with bleeding disorders are at increased risk and should consult their healthcare professional prior to getting a tattoo or piercing.
- Take excellent care of your body art. Your artist will give you advice regarding how best to care for your body art and it will then be up to you to protect and treat the wound to prevent infections or other complications. If you have complications during the healing process, make sure you contact your doctor straight away.
If you are thinking about getting body art, make sure you ask your Haemophilia Treatment Centre for advice. It is important that you fully understand the associated risks and, if you do decide to go ahead, take the appropriate steps to minimise these.