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Blog Katie Allen December 2023

 In Blog Katie Allen

Blog Katie Allen December 2023

Katie Allen (Canada) shares her personal experiences

Happy Holidays from Canada.

One question I often get asked by patients and families is about tattoos. I have multiple tattoos, including a couple on top of my marks. Like many people with vascular concerns, I had doctors discourage me from getting tattoos earlier in my life. However, as I got older, I faced the reality that I was covered in marks people made comments about, marks I never got to choose; meanwhile, there was an art form that gave me the power to choose what would be on my skin. So, after long consideration, I decided I wanted to get a tattoo.

I must emphasize that, at this point, I did not simply make an appointment and get my tattoo. I started by meeting with my GP and explaining why it mattered to me; she and I had a great discussion about how this was important and who we were going to involve. The first step was to consult my dermatologist, hematologist, and the vascular team I had at the children’s hospital. Again, with some reservations, the discussions with the doctors continued until we felt there could be a safer way to proceed. Only then did we bring in a tattoo artist who came highly recommended. The plan was simple: avoid my marks, track any bleeding concerns, and have everyone on the team aware of when I was getting the tattoo so that if something went wrong my GP, at minimum, could be accessed. The first tattoo went off without much trouble, with a bit more bleeding than expected. Overall, we considered it a success.

Over the years, we continued to monitor concerns and plans as I went for more complex tattoos and finally ventured into tattoos on my markings. Every session, I followed similar procedures, though not as complex as the first, I always had doctors in the know about my sessions and the complexity of the work. After 6 tattoos, I have experienced no major complications and all tattoos held and healed well. I found red ink does not stay as well near markings as other colours, but generally, reds tend to fade more.

In terms of recommendations to any patients considering tattoos, first, always have doctors knowledgeable in your condition and your health involved in the decision. Also, have a serious conversation with your doctors about why you want to get the tattoo, I found it helped them move from worrying about what could happen to whether there is a way to make this happen. When a team works together amazing things can be achieved, however, listen when the expert has a recommendation. For example, I have better tattoos from the instances I listened to the tattoo artist’s advice than when I kept with an original concept.

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