It’s likely that health worries won’t play much of a part when you are thinking about getting your first tattoo, but it is certainly something that you should consider! Issues that may seem in the distant future now, could actually appear sooner than you realize. Varicose veins are a classic example, although most people believe that the condition only affects you when you hit middle age, it can also be an issue for younger people as well. In fact, one in ten women aged 18 display symptoms of hidden varicose veins, otherwise known as venous reflux. This condition may not be visible but it is definitely something that you need to take into account before getting a tattoo.
We’ll discuss how tattoos can affect your health and, if they do, how you can treat them.
Firstly, it is important to know as much as possible about varicose veins. The condition occurs when blood pools in the veins so they become swollen and enlarged and often protrude from the surface of the skin. In the majority of cases these veins have a red or purple appearance and can often be painful. It is a common condition that affects around 25% of all adults, although women are more susceptible as a result of hormones from menopause or menstruation and as a natural side effect of pregnancy.
Why should I be concerned about varicose veins?
In order for a tattoo to become permanent, the ink needs to reach the under layer of your skin, known as the dermis, which consists of nerves, glands and blood vessels. The delicate makeup of the dermis means that any disruption to this region can have a severe impact on your health.
As the tattoo needle pierces the skin, your body’s immune system immediately reacts by sending white blood cells, or macrophages, to consume the ink particles and fight against any possible infection. The role of these white blood cells is to return to the liver so the waste products can be removed from the body. However, some may stay in the tattooed region after they have consumed the ink particles, which is one of the reasons why the colors in your tattoo don’t fade.
Specialists claim that the following issues can occur as a result of getting a tattoo over an area close to varicose veins:
- Damage to the blood vessels – Enlarged veins rise to the surface which increases the chances of a tattoo needle coming into contact with the blood vessels. Accidently injecting ink into the veins can cause infection as well as distorting the image of the tattoo as the ink flows through your veins rather than staying in position
- Impact in later life – If you receive a tattoo in an area at risk of varicose veins, such as at the back of the leg, it may be more difficult for the condition to be effectively treated if the condition does develop
- Sufferers of varicose veins may also be at greater risk of severe side effects including excessive bleeding and even skin ulcers
What treatments are available if I suffer from varicose veins and have a tattoo?
Having a tattoo does not mean that someone suffering from varicose veins cannot receive treatment. The exact technique to treat the condition can depend on several factors including the severity of the veins and the location of the tattoo.
Experts at vein surgery specialists Radiance Vein Clinic, explain that Endovenous Laser ablation is the most effective option when treating varicose veins beneath a tattoo. This technique has a very high success rate and, crucially, a far lower risk of complications compared to other treatments. This treatment uses heat energy to block the damaged veins to give them time to recover and perform normally. Radiofrequency ablation is another heat-based technique popular in both the UK and the U.S..
Other treatments can include the High tie and strip method which requires a general anesthetic and has a range of severe side effects or sclerotherapy, when a chemical is injected to block the leaky veins. However, this is not considered the best option for larger veins as repeat treatments may be necessary.
Although it might be more interesting to decide which design you’re getting for your tattoo, it is important that you also pay attention to your health! If you think you are suffering from the symptoms of varicose veins then make sure to speak to a specialist first!