Tattoos in the OR

  1. Hey all, I'm a nursing student in Alberta, set to graduate next December. I really want to do my final focus in the OR, and if that's not possible I would like to work in the OR someday. The only problem is that, years ago before I chose nursing as my intended profession, I got two full sleeves of tattoos. From what I gather this may cause a problem, as you can't show tattoos in most nursing jobs but I understand you can't wear long sleeves under your OR scrubs. Has anyone run into this, or can anyone counsel me on my options here? I apologize if this topic has been covered; I searched many threads and couldn't find a definite answer. Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks
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    About erinmarie320

    Joined: Sep '12; Posts: 23; Likes: 5


  3. by   Rose_Queen
    If you are circulating and the facility provides them, you can wear a warm up jacket with long sleeves to cover your tattoos. If you're scrubbed, you'll have the gown sleeves covering them. I work with many nurses and surgical techs who have many tattoos, some of which were added while working (over vacation time, so that they weren't scrubbing a fresh, tender tattoo). It all depends on the facility policy. Each facility may be different. I know you're looking for a definite answer, but without talking about a specific facility, that just isn't possible.

    My personal thought (and yes, I have a tattoo myself) is that they should be able to be covered. If that means a 1/4 or 1/2 sleeve instead of a full sleeve, that's what I'd go for. (Much cheaper that way too.)
  4. by   erinmarie320
    Thanks for your reply! You've given me hope at least! And if it was a matter of choice, I definitely would go with 1/2 or 1/4 sleeves. Alas, I have full sleeves already that are a decade old I got them before I had even decided on nursing, back when I was young and free and didn't think further ahead than the weekend haha!

    I'd love to hear from any others that may have experiences with OR and scrubs and tattoos
  5. by   Gennaver
    I don't see any problem with them and have worked with many health care staff who have sleeves.
    p.s. edit to add: no doubt a full sleeve took a much greater committment than just a weekend and that was only 'one' of them.
  6. by   Sezza83
    Pfffft, no one would care where I work, and I think most of the staff have tatts somewhere But yeah, a warming jacket could be worn. And maybe a long sleeved shirt for the interview.
  7. by   wanderlustRN24
    I circulated in an outpatient plastic surgery OR and wore long sleeve warm up jacket all the time, because it was always FREEZING. So did the other circulators. They were more concerned about hair being pulled back under the OR cap, mask, and shoe covers. It probably depends on the facility whether they allow long sleeve shirts underneath or jackets (unless we were out of compliance which I would hope not).
  8. by   RNOTODAY
    i work with a guy with full sleeves. its not such a big deal for a scrub tech, because they are usually in a gown, the patients cant even see them, etc. But as a circulator, you will always have a jacke to wear. dont worry.
  9. by   itsnowornever
    And if that doesn't work, I've only seen ONE hospital whose ER staff weren't allowed to show tattoos! You can always go there! As a matter of fact, as a STUDENT during preceptor I was told not to worry about wearing long sleeves because no one there cares about tattoos! (my fore arms have tattoos on them) One of the ER "lifers" had a HUGE sleeve on her arm and never wore a sweater!
  10. by   Esme12
    I think as time goes on the "stigma" placed on tats has waned. Many places will want you to cover your arms with a warmup jacket (which you have to wear outside the OR anyhow)...for your interview however I wouldn't wear short sleeves.....professional attire only.
  11. by   night-billy
    Tattoos have become mainstream these days but the policy will still vary between facilities. I have chosen to cover up my tattooed arms with Ink Armor sleeves: Cover Tattoo | Tattoo Cover Up | Tattoo Cover | Free Shipping U.S - TAT2X I don't work in an OR but I do work for a major hospital that does not allow visible tattoos. I also prefer to cover up at work because it seems to make my patients more comfortable. The cover sleeves work well for my purposes but I'm not sure what the policy would be regarding wearing them in the OR. They are a nylon spandex blend and fit snug on my arms.
  12. by   BittyBabyGrower
    Where I work you can't have visible tattoos and no where in the hospital are we permitted to wear long sleeves in a patient care area. We do have a nurse on our floor that uses some sort of water proof cover up on her arm tats. Each place is different and it will depend on their dress code.
  13. by   AshleyDiane6
    Hello. I have a full sleeve tattoo on my left arm and a chest piece that covers my entire chest. I also got these tattoos before I became a nurse. I am a perioperative nurse and before I was a nursing assistant and sterile processing tech for surgical services. I cover my tattoos with a surgical jacket because outside linen is not permitted in the surgery dept. I have to button the jacket all the way to my neck (which is not convienent but it's better than not having a job). It shouldn't be a problem for you, just make sure to cover up tattoos for any interview and when you come into work grab a surgical jacket. I am a new grad and got hired right into surgery. Please message me if you need anything.
  14. by   Trinigal03
    Lol, yeah we wear long sleeves, jackets/sweaters in the O.R. & the occasional skirt or shawl (blanket from the warmer wrapped around your waist or shoulders).

    If you're a scrub tech or will be scrubbing otherwise, then you might run into problems...which just means you take the "undershirt" off & don't worry about it because you'll be scrubbed in.

    If anything, I imagine the main objection would probably be if any of your tats would be considered offensive (nudity, etc.) otherwise, again wouldn't worry about it. I have tattoos myself...not to mention ongoing discussions with colleagues, planning our next tattoos.
    Last edit by Trinigal03 on Sep 29, '12