Is It Safe To Tattoo Over Prominent Veins?

There are certain areas of the body that experts advise steering clear of when it comes to tattoos due to potential health risks. For example, the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that blindness can result from eyeball tattoos. Similarly, dermatologist Dr. Julia Carroll tells Global News that inner lip tattoos may be particularly susceptible to bacterial infection. So while it may be best to leave the eyes and the lips un-inked, what about areas of the body with more pronounced veins?

While the risk of infection can come with any tattoo, designs that overlap our veins have some special considerations to keep in mind. "Tattoos involve applying pressure on your skin with a needle, which can rupture the vein, making it bleed into the surrounding tissue and cause an infection," Florida-based board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Stacey Chimento, tells Healthline. Let's take a look at our wrist for example. These veins may appear more visible or slightly more protruded than veins in other areas of the body. Because this area has lesser amounts of fatty tissue, Ink Art by Kate explains that tattoo artists will need to be particularly mindful of wrist veins. While tattoo ink is intended to penetrate only the epidermis and uppermost layer of the dermis, if a tattoo artist were to insert the needle too deeply, damage to the vein can occur.

Risks of tattooing over varicose veins

Varicose veins are bulging, protruding veins that result from a buildup of blood pressure (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). In the absence of symptoms, treatment may not be needed. However, in some cases, varicose veins may cause skin ulcers, discoloration, and hemorrhaging, amongst other health issues (per Palm Vein Center). A tattoo can obscure the area, therefore making them hard to see and treat.

Additionally, masking a varicose vein in a tattoo could have the opposite desired effect and cause additional swelling. Alternatively, although uncommon, individuals who have insufficient amounts of subcutaneous fat surrounding a varicose vein may also be more susceptible to vein puncture by a tattoo needle and be at risk for ink injection into the vein. "Varicose veins struggle to heal due to their pre-existing damage. If pierced during the tattoo session, they could randomly bleed internally or externally, affecting surrounding organs," Dr. Stacey Chimento tells Healthline. While tattooing over veins is generally considered safe when done in the hands of a skilled professional, those with varicose veins may first want to consult with their doctor if they're considering tattooing the area.