Tattooing Over Varicose & Spider Veins

  • Written By Dan Hunter on August 17, 2019
    Last Updated: March 17, 2022

For generations, tattoos have been a fashionable and visual statement. For many, tattoos hold a deep personal or cultural significance.

These days, tattoos can be more than just a fashion statement. They can aid you in confidence-boosting ways, such as being able to take unwanted attention away from any varicose or spider veins you may be feeling uneasy or self-conscious about.

Varicose and spider veins are common. They can be seen as unsightly conditions, so naturally, people want to hide them. A go-to solution to the visual issue they pose is tattooing over them.

Yes, you can tattoo over varicose and spider veins, but it isn’t always recommended, and tattooing over them can:

  • Make treating the conditions more difficult
  • Make the conditions worse
  • In rare circumstances, threaten overall health

What Are Varicose/Spider Veins?

Varicose veins, slightly different to spider veins, are twisted, swollen veins you can see through the skin. They often occur in the legs. Bulging and bluish, these visuals are a sign of a deeper issue. 

Females, the elderly and people who live with obesity are more at risk of these veins. Pregnancy can also be a cause.

This condition is caused by diseased blood vessels. There are valves in veins that keep blood flowing in one direction. When these valves fail, the blood pools and the walls of the veins expand. 

It’s this expansion that causes the veins to twist, deform and become easily damaged. This video from the Cleveland Clinic explains more on varicose veins.

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they are typically smaller. Like varicose veins, they also most-commonly occur in the legs.

Can You Tattoo Over Varicose Veins?

If the skin is undamaged and robust, you can tattoo over varicose veins. Many people choose to go with the shape of their veins and get vines and flowers tattooed. 

Creatives may even design their own more unique tattoo over the veins, like a game of joining the dots. Tattoos often cover the veins extremely well, leaving little evidence of a cosmetic problem existing behind the ink. 

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. It may look good, but it can have some negative consequences. 

The Risks of Tattooing Over Varicose Veins

Varicose veins aren’t an entirely cosmetic concern. Because of their engorgement, they’re easier to pierce with a tattoo needle than a regular vein (even wrist veins). Still, the underlying issue needs to be treated, and you could prevent them from being fixed.

Difficulty Treating the Disease

To treat the diseased veins, they need to be visible. Tattoos can cover most, if not all, the visible veins, making it hard on the treatment specialists. If untreated, excess blood can leak into the leg tissues and cause hyperpigmentation.

Worsening the Condition

If the tattoo needle pierces a vein, it can cause an infection. This could result in the veins protruding further. Occurrences like this are rare, but they’re not unheard of. Should this happen, you may even experience decreased function in your limb like heaviness or fatigue.

Threats to Overall Health

If a vein is pierced during the tattooing process, your overall health may suffer. You could experience spontaneous bleeding internally and externally, which can affect surrounding organs.

Varicose veins also have difficulty healing themselves because of their pre-existing damage. You might even end up in the emergency room.

While extreme situations like this are very rare, it is my duty to let you know that such situations can occasionally happen.

Don’t Make a Rushed Decision

Tattooing over varicose veins is possible, but not always recommended. Seeking professional medical advice before getting your tattoo is always the best and most sensible option. You may be advised to treat your condition first, but once you’ve dealt with your issue, then you should be able to get tattooed over any remaining visible veins left behind.

Think of the long-term impact that tattooing over your varicose/spider veins can have. If your medical advisor deems that getting a tattoo over the affected area will be generally safe, then go ahead and get that ink. Alternatively, seek treatment first before potentially putting your health at risk.

When you eventually go ahead with getting your dream tattoo, it’s imperative that you always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality tattoo healing lotion to aid recovery.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated, but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times, and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.​

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