How long after surgery should you wait to get a tattoo?

Dear Ask The Doctor:
How long after surgery should you wait to get a tattoo? My brother broke, shattered his clavicle and had surgery to repair it with a titanium rod with 8 pins less than 2 weeks ago. He eagerly wants to get a new tattoo, but we're trying to convince him to wait to let his body completely heal from the surgery and broken bone. How long should he wait and why? What complications could he have if he doesn't wait?

A:   A new tattoo will not affect your brother's recovery from surgery. However, he should avoid placing the tattoo near his healing incision. He should also be aware of the general risks associated with getting a tattoo. These include the possible transmission of infections such as hepatitis and HIV.

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