Blood Thinning Agents

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If you take a blood thinning agent before any minor body modification procedure, such as a tattoo or piercing, it may result in greatly increased risk of excessive bleeding (and some tattoo artists warn that it could make it harder for the ink to hold). In the case of heavier procedures, such as scarification, or surgical procedures, such as subincision, problematic and/or dangerous amounts of bleeding may occur.

Most people are aware of the most commonly used blood thinning agents, such as alcohol and many analgesics/painkillers, such as aspirin (incidentally, which is why it reduces the chance of heart attacks) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, among others). There are, however, several other agents (organic/natural or inorganic/synthetic) of which people may not be aware. Some of these chemicals/agents may include (but are not limited to):

  • In quantity: garlic, ginger, chamomile, alfalfa, onion, turmeric, and other natural remedies and many herbs have antiplatelet properties.
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Vitamin E in quantities of 400 IU or more
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, most commonly found in fish oil and flaxseed oil — eating massive quantities of sushi before a surgical procedure is not advised.
  • Vitamin C in megadoses (although not all scientists agree, it appears to lower thomboxane levels, which decreases clotting).

It is best to stop taking blood thinning agents at least two weeks before any procedure (according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists).

Other people may be on blood thinning drugs such as Coumadin (Warfarin), Lovenox (self injected), or Heparin (though Heparin would be unlikely, as it is almost exclusively used in a hospital setting), so artists should be made aware if the client is taking these.

Additionally, Plavix is widely used to help prevent blood clots. Technically it is not a blood thinner, but it may put one at increased risk of excessive bleeding, as it does inhibit the body's clotting mechanism.

See Also