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Getting a new tattoo is a reason to celebrate and you may want to go out and have a drink with your friends to show off your new artwork. However, not everything we want to do is necessarily good for us, right?
The answer to the question, “Can you drink after getting a tattoo?” is you can, but you shouldn’t.
Although enjoying alcohol after getting a tattoo isn’t a life-and-death situation, there are some adverse effects that you need to know about.
You have to remember that a tattoo is a mini surgical procedure; ink is getting injected by needles and this is causing tiny tears in your skin. This triggers a tattoo healing process. Drinking alcohol at this time, especially directly after a tattoo, impedes the body’s protective mechanisms that promote healing.
Let’s have a more in-depth look at the reasons why drinking after a tattoo may not be such a bright idea.
4 Reasons Why Drinking After a Tattoo is Bad
Many people know that drinking before a tattoo is a big no-no, but not a lot of folks know that drinking after getting a tattoo is just as bad.
Below we share with you some of the reasons why you should hold off on drinking after getting a tattoo.
1. Alcohol Ruins Tattoo Healing
When you get a tattoo, you want nothing to interfere with the healing process as that will impact how the finished artwork looks. Alcohol disturbs tissue reproduction and the healing process by as much as 61% if you consume it. That’s a lot of interference! It means the wound—which a tattoo is—will take longer to close. This will not only affect how your tattoo looks once healed but also increases the chance of infection–another thing you absolutely don’t want to happen.
In short, drinking alcohol after getting a tattoo decreases the speed of healing by disrupting the body’s immune system response to inflammation, which ultimately delays wound closure and affects other processes.
2. Alcohol Causes Excessive Bleeding
Your tattoo will bleed and ooze plasma and pigment for 24 to 48 hours after you get it. This is your body’s response to the trauma caused by getting a tattoo.
Unfortunately, alcohol is known for thinning the blood, and that is one of the main reasons why you should never drink before getting a tattoo. The same goes for drinking after getting a tattoo—you will thin out your blood and that can lead to excess bleeding as well as prolonged bleeding.
You may think that isn’t anything to worry about but if your blood is too thin:
- Your skin will have trouble forming new cells.
- Your tattoo won’t be able to start drying out and scabbing as it will stay too wet.
- Too much blood increases your risk of getting a tattoo infection.
- Since your tattoo won’t be able to scab, it will stay an open wound that is more susceptible to bacteria and germs.
Of course, there’s also the fact that losing a lot of blood weakens the body, and this will lower your immune system which will, in turn, slow down the healing process of your tattoo.
3. Alcohol Impairs Your Judgement
It’s no secret that drinking in excess affects your judgment. Dancing on tables after one too many shots of tequila is a great example!
Getting drunk after getting a new tattoo is a very bad idea. It is easy to crash into your surroundings, fall over, or rub your tattoo on the wall without meaning to when you’re under the influence of alcohol. This can destroy your new artwork and that would be such a bummer since you sat through a good amount of pain to get it.
It’s best to give your tattoo two weeks to become less susceptible to damage before you go out bar hopping.
4. Alcohol Can Lead to the Wrong Sleeping Position
When you’re inebriated, the last thing you’re going to worry about is how to sleep with a new tattoo. That’s not good news for your tattoo.
Let’s say your tattoo is on your back, it makes sense that you don’t sleep in that position until your tattoo has healed somewhat. The additional pressure on a fresh wound will make the pain so much worse and can lead to other issues including increased inflammation, prolonged bleeding, possible infection, and a longer healing time.
Awkwardly, alcohol makes you feel somewhat invincible; your pain tolerance increases. This means you may not initially feel the pain when you end up sleeping on your new tattoo, but there’s no doubt that you’ll feel it the next morning. That is if you don’t wake up during the night with the area where you got the tattoo throbbing.
Is Waiting 24 Hours Enough?
Yes and no. Many tattoo artists will recommend that you wait at least 24 hours before drinking to give your tattoo a chance to form at least somewhat of a barrier. However, the longer you wait, the better for your tattoo.
We suggest you bump the waiting time up to at least 48 hours. You may have some bruising or swelling still but you gave your skin time to regenerate cells and start the healing process. Having a drink now can still cause the issues covered above, but the effect on your tattoo will be less significant.
If you do experience any excessive pain, redness, or swelling—even without drinking—contact your doctor so that they can check if your tattoo is infected or if you had an allergic reaction to the ink or other products used during the tattoo.
Let’s face it, you could stop yourself from drinking before getting a tattoo, so why not wait a day or two longer to be on the safe side? We know you want to celebrate your new body art, but you need to give your tattoo time to heal.
Ask yourself this: will your doctor allow you to drink straight after getting surgery? We doubt it! Considering that a tattoo is an invasive procedure, you should treat it as you would any surgery.
Tattoo aftercare is super important if you want your tattoo to look solid and vibrant. Alcohol does not fall in your tattoo aftercare regime. You have to take care of your tattoo from the inside as well as the outside; eating properly, sleeping enough, and staying hydrated will all promote tattoo healing just as much as washing and moisturizing your tattoo will.
To recap, drinking after getting a tattoo is a bad idea because:
- It thins the blood.
- It increases your risk of infection.
- It keeps your tattoo wet which prevents a protective scab from forming over it.
- It impacts your judgment, and this can lead to you damaging your tattoo without meaning to.
- It impacts how you sleep and you may end up sleeping on your tattoo.
There you have it. Leave the celebratory drinks for at least 48 hours after getting a tattoo.