Piercing & Tattoos

Just like real estate… Location, Location, Location!

If the piercing is in an area of open skin (like an earlobe or eyebrow), then it is generally safe to get a piercing and your risk of infection is very low.

The piercing is more likely to get infected if it’s in an area that has mucus, saliva, or other body fluids (like your mouth or nose). It’s also risky to pierce parts of your body that are covered with clothes (you know what we’re talking about). You should not get these areas pierced.

Think Before You Ink

Simple rule: Talk to your cardiologist before heading to the tattoo shop.

Both Piercings and Tattoos – The Risk of Endocarditis

The problem with tattoos is that they can get infected, and the bacteria can then get into the blood stream and travel to the heart. This can cause a problem called endocarditis.

People with endocarditis often get fevers and chills and feel really unwell. If we can figure out the type of bacteria, we might be able to treat it with 6 weeks of intravenous (IV) antibiotics. But sometimes antibiotics are not enough, and surgery is needed to repair the heart.

Given the risks, we recommend that you think carefully before getting a tattoo. If you still want to get a tattoo, make sure that you monitor it closely for signs of infection. If there are signs (like redness, pain or pus), you should let your cardiologist know so that they can check your heart.

Other things you should about piercing and tattoos

  • Keep it clean. You can catch hepatitis if the needles aren’t clean.
  • Make sure the equipment is sterilized and that needles are stored in sealed packages.
  • Tell the people in the store that you have a heart condition and are at risk for endocarditis
  • Carefully follow the store’s guidelines for cleaning the site.
  • If you get a skin infection or fevers, sweats and chills, see your family doctor immediately

If you are taking anticoagulants (medication to thin your blood and inhibits the blood’s ability to clot), it is important to understand that tattooing means inserting ink into your skin with a needle. This leads to minor bleeding and the tattoo ink will be washed away by your blood -- which means, getting a tattoo won’t work.