Body Art and the Perioperative Process

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Body modification, also known as body art, has been a common cultural practice for thousands of years and includes body piercings, transdermal and subdermal implants, tattoos, scarification, body stretching and sculpting, dental grills, and nail art. Perioperative nurses must learn more about body art to provide nonjudgmental, nonprejudicial care and to ensure patient safety when they prepare patients for surgery. A welcoming environment engages patients and fosters communication so that patients are more likely to share hidden body art. It is also necessary for the preoperative nurse to communicate with the perioperative team about patients’ body art to avoid airway complications, tissue trauma, pressure ulcers, burns, postoperative surgical site infections, or distorted fluoroscopy or magnetic resonance images. Identifying patients' body art in advance allows the perioperative team to be better prepared to deliver safe care.

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