Tattooing and Hemophilia

Jami's memorial tattoo for her brother who died due to AIDS. Beautiful.

Tattoos are a connection that everyone, in every walk of life can share. Yes, they have a stigma attached to them but they are also a form of self-expression that fuels my desire to cover myself in them. I remember watching my mother getting tattooed when I was small. More clearly I remember that anticipation building to get my own. Sometimes a tattoo is on a whim and lives to be regretted or lazered off; more often they are a memory. I live knowing that one day my sons will look at me and likely feel the same anticipation I felt as a child. This is the point in my little ramble where I expect people to be looking a little worried. Heres the truth: I would never forbid it. No I wouldn’t sign at the minimal age for him to get one in his teens. I wouldn’t approve of say a swastika on his forehead, but I certainly would not tell him no. With proper prophylactic treatment and a whole lot of determination the outcome wouldn’t be horrible. I know that I would want to be there and there would be a lot of research put into finding a reputable artist that is willing to tattoo a hemo but if he’s serious about a tattoo then all I can do as a mother is be serious about keeping him safe. Granted we have a long ways to go before any of this becomes a shadow of a thought but it is best to go into things knowing how you feel. I decided to ask some of our hemophilia community how they feel about tattoos and I got an overwhelming Yes! Which was freakin awesome. I asked a few to share their stories with me so that I could share it with all you. Hold on to your seats folks, this was my first ‘interview.’

Felix was kind enough to be one of those people who shared their story

Did you need to infuse before, during, and after?

Grumpy on Felix's arm. Love how he's wearing a Grumpy shirt also. I can dig some Snow White love

My first tat was not exactly planned. I had infused the day before, then I infused after. The second time I did an infusion right before then the day after to be on the safe side.

Do you think receiving prophylaxis better prepared you for the feeling of being tattooed?

I’m sure the fact that I maintain good factor levels was helpful.

How many do you have?

I have two tattoos. A Felix the Cat on the left arm and a Grumpy on the right.

Did you need to have multiple sessions or was it better to do all at once?

 I did them both in one session each. If they were full arms or large back would get multiple sessions.

How did your parents and doctors feel about your choice to be tattooed?

 I got my first tat in my early 30’s and did not seek approval from my parents (wouldn’t have gotten it anyways), and I don’t ask permission of doctors for anything either. I know my hemophilia,and I have had more serious things happened to me just going to work.

Were there any complications during the healing process?

Amy's memorial for her father.

 No complications for either tat.

Was it hard to find an artist that was comfortable tattooing you?

 I used two different artist, and neither one had an issue. As a matter of fact one of them said that they worry more about someone with Hep C than people with HIV or Hemophilia. I thought that was interesting.

Were you forthcoming about your severe hemophilia and what that meant in relation to being tattooed?

I was honest and had no issues with the process or the artist that did them.

I figure if our younger guys infuse to play soccer and other sports, I get to use it for body art. My doctor doesn’t have to agree, and if he or the HTC have an issue they will just have to get over it. Advancements in treatment are for us to lead “normal” lives. We as individual get to decide what that “normal” is.


The second person I thought was especially interesting was Cheryl. Cheryl has von Willebrand’s Disease, which I haven’t spoken much about on here but do plan to get to soon. She was diagnosed with this after getting her piercings and so I’m sure didn’t think too much of them. She does plan to get a tattoo in the future and she says it will be HUGE. I sincerely hope I get to share a picture of it with you guys. As for her kids getting tattooed she’s cool with it. (Awesome mom) She says she would sign for it and be there with them and that her husband would be on board as well, maybe not 100% but still supportive if that is what the family is wanting.

Jay, who writes, lent his experience also.

Did you need to infuse before, during, and after?

    Before and after. I got the majority of my tattoos the day after a profy dose and then infused immediately afterwards.

Do you think receiving prophylaxis better prepared you for the feeling of being tattooed?

    I fall asleep during tattoos. In fact, I fall asleep just hearing the tattoo gun. I don’t feel them at all.


How many do you have?

    6 individual tattoos and the beginning of a 1/4 sleeve.

Did you need to have multiple sessions or was it better to do all at once?

    My 1/4 sleeve is being done in multiple sessions. For some reason the ink isn’t staying on that arms as it did with my others.

How did your parents and doctors feel about your choice to be tattooed?

    I’m 39, almost 40. I didn’t really ask ahead of time.

Were there any complications during the healing process?


Was it hard to find an artist that was comfortable tattooing you?

    No, I was friends with both of my artists prior to getting any of the tattoos so they knew enough about my hemophilia to be comfortable with tattooing on me. Both artists insist that I be infused prior to them starting the tattoo.

So, the general idea from everyone is that tattoos and piercings are ok, as long as you are properly taking care of yourself. For the women who didn’t know they had a bleeding disorder it was an issue while the men who were already treating didn’t have a problem. I hear of some men with hemophilia that have more tattoos than I do, one of them is even a tattoo artist! Most moms recognize that their children will grow up and get one if that’s what they want and I’m pleased to report that they are looking to educate their children rather than scare them. No matter who you are you should be careful when getting tattooed or pierced. If the artist is not a good one you could walk out the door with something that looks mediocre at best but by researching where you are going, reading reviews, and asking people you trust where they get their body modification done I’m certain anyone can safely get a picture they’ll wantto carry on them forever.

alise grave nil-No burden too heavy for those with wings

Thanks to everyone who helped me out with this one. It is my first interview and I love that so many in our community were willing to give me the tools I needed to write it. I look forward to writing so many more posts with your help (and hopefully I get a bit better at the interview part as time goes on).


3 thoughts on “Tattooing and Hemophilia

  1. To be honest and blunt, that’s the abtlsuoe best thing you can do. If this guy does some truly sick work, and tells you to get in the chair and let him have at it, chances are you’re in good hands. If this cat has a waiting list, hold out for the work. That’s a surefire sign it’s worth waiting for. If you bring an idea to this artist and he can whip something out with a sharpie wherever you’re wanting it, go for it. I have tattooed over half my life and the pieces that are the best are the ones that people give me an idea and let me go to town on. I have done sleeves like that, and never have had a negative response. By doing this, you accomplish two things. One, you’re ensuring you are walking out of the shop with a one of a kind piece, and two, you are showing the artist you trust his judgement to give you what you are wanting. Get in the chair, what are you waiting for?

    • I like your style and thats pretty much how my husband and I approach tattooing. I am open, make it colorful and one of a kind and I’ll come back for more; garunteed. Glad you commented.

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