Tattoos & T1D
People with type 1 diabetes often wonder whether or not getting a tattoo is a safe option for them. We have good news—you can safely get “inked,” but just like anyone else, there is certain protocol and things to keep in mind to ensure that you have the best tattoo experience possible.
Standard Safety Precautions
- Find a licensed/accredited tattoo parlor with experienced artists.
- Be certain that the needle being used is brand new and sterile.
- Make sure the artist autoclaves their machine between customers.
- Ink pots should be disposable.
- Ask your tattoo artist to put a temporary sticker/rendering of your tattoo on your body before committing to the permanent ink, to be sure that it is exactly what you want!
Type 1 diabetes (T1D)-Specific Risks
- Healing time
According to many tattoo artists and doctors, the only hesitation with regards to a person with diabetes getting a tattoo has to do with the overall healing time. If your diabetes it not well managed, the body will take much longer to heal. It is important to make sure that your A1C is within a healthy range before considering getting your tattoo.
In addition to healing time, poorly managed diabetes can put your tattoo site at a much higher risk for infection. Regardless of your A1C, it is important to keep an eye on the tattoo as it heals, and follow the after-care instructions given to you by your tattoo artist.
- Tattoo locations
Certain areas on the body can be trickier than others for tattoo placement if you have poor blood circulation, which makes them more susceptible to infection. Some examples are: feet, shins, ankles and buttocks.
- Check your blood sugar!
Depending on the size and detail of your tattoo, your appointment could last quite a while. Be sure to bring your blood sugar meter, continuous glucose monitor (CGM), insulin, snacks, quick sugar (i.e.: glucose tabs) and whatever else you need to keep your blood sugar levels in check while in the chair. It is a good idea to notify your tattoo artists ahead of time that you might need to take some blood glucose (BG) testing/snack breaks!