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Tattoo preservation during surgical procedures

Authors Tenna S, Delle Femmine PF, Pendolino AL, Brunetti B, Persichetti P

Received 16 October 2013

Accepted for publication 18 December 2013

Published 17 February 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 19—27

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OAS.S36884

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3


Stefania Tenna, Pietro Francesco Delle Femmine, Alfonso Luca Pendolino, Beniamino Brunetti, Paolo Persichetti

Plastic Surgery Unit, University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Abstract: In recent years, the number of people getting tattoos has continued to increase. Tattoos are much more than cultural fads and cosmetic complements, and nowadays often represent events that express the patient's personality without words. The presence of a tattoo in the surgical field may be a problem for both the patient and the surgeon. However, the relevant literature is mostly based on complications related to application of tattoos or methods used to remove them. To date, few reports have focused on the importance of preserving a tattoo during a surgical procedure, and no organized studies could be found. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the range of solutions that surgeons can use to preserve tattoos during surgery. A PubMed database search was done to assess other surgeons' experience. The terms "tattoo" in combination with "incision", "surgery", "surgical", or "operative" were used as key words. Following a review of the literature, photographs of patients presenting with a tattoo in the last 5 years at University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome were identified in order to determine the frequency of patients presenting with tattoos in our department. The patients were classified according to sex, age, type of surgery, number of tattoos, and tattoo location. Specific requests to preserve tattoos were recorded. Finally, an algorithm of treatment according to tattoo dimension and location is proposed. Knowledge of all the strategies available for saving tattoos is important for plastic and cosmetic surgeons. If a tattooed area needs to be operated on, surgeons should attempt, when possible, to avoid altering the tattoo in order to maximize the final cosmetic result.

Keywords: tattoo incision, body contouring, surgery, complications

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