How long do the blood-thinning effects of alcohol last?
December 17, 2012 10:07 PM   Subscribe

How long do the blood-thinning effects of alcohol last? I'm asking so I can know how far in advance to stop consuming alcohol before my next tattoo session.

I'm having a large back piece worked on, and there have been several sessions already. Ever since one of the earlier sessions went poorly because I foolishly spent the morning of the day before drinking boozy brunch drinks, I just make sure I don't drink for a few days beforehand just to be absolutely certain. But the time between now and my next session holds many, many parties where there will be lots of interesting boozy consumables, so I'd like to strategize efficiently.
posted by rhiannonstone to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hm, I was going to say not to worry too much, as I've been specifically commanded to have a goddamn glass of wine or something before coming in. Seeing as I don't really bleed and my main issue is being extremely high strung.

Previous sessions shouldn't have been affected by alcohol still in your bloodstream from the previous day, unless you drank a metric shitload of mimosas. What might have affected things was being hungover, or not being well-rested.

I think you ought to be fine abstaining for two days, in any case, if abstaining for one day hasn't been enough in the past.
posted by Sara C. at 10:21 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Googling "alcohol anticoagulant" suggests the effect lasts about 24 hours.
posted by Specklet at 10:22 PM on December 17, 2012

24 hours is the magic number, so I was surprised when I read your details. Perhaps there was another factor there, like being dehydrated or not eating before drinking, that made the effect more potent. I'd give it 24 hours, making sure that any drinking for 48 hours prior is preceded with a good meal and accompanied with a glass of water for each drink.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:13 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Alcohol in general metabolizes relatively fast. However, the studies I'm reading about it being a blood thinner are mostly about "moderate drinkers," which kind of suggests the effect may be longer lasting.

It may be more prudent to reduce your overall consumption more generally (one to two drinks per day) between now and then, and then lay off the day before, than to pursue a sudden total abstinence strategy three or four days in advance.

And take care of yourself more generally - you're putting your nerves and skin under a rather specific kind of prolonged stress, so drinking lots of water, getting plenty of sleep, and eating sensibly between now and then should help a lot. Really, you should always do that.

Also: moisturize the area in general, in advance. Healthy skin care = good for you, and makes the process easier.

(This is based off of personal experience with facial laser surgery, and with chatting with folks who get tattoos & electrolysis & waxing, all of which are kind of traumatizing to the skin.)
posted by SMPA at 6:18 AM on December 18, 2012

Don't be drunk. Don't be hungover. And I agree with the "take care of yourself, generally" are going to do something stressful to your body and it's going to need time to heal just like after surgery.
posted by JoanArkham at 7:54 AM on December 18, 2012

24-48 hours is my rule. I usually err on the side of caution and abstain for 48. I find my pain tolerance is slightly better if I abstain too. YMMV.
posted by bedhead at 10:09 AM on December 18, 2012

I can speak directly to this. I'm getting a big piece done, and I had a session yesterday. While I have been abstemious before every session in the past, two nights ago I went to a holiday party and I drank a fair amount. I made sure to drink plenty of water, but I have to say that yesterday's session hurt like it's never hurt before. I'm not convinced that it was the blood thinning effect, but rather the being hungover effect. That's a lesson learned for me...
posted by ob at 9:00 AM on December 20, 2012

Thanks. To clarify, the reason that one session went poorly wasn't because it hurt more or took longer to heal, but because I was bleeding so copiously the artist couldn't wipe it away quickly enough to be able to work. Hence the specific question about blood-thinning. I otherwise make sure I'm well-rested, well-fed, and extra-hydrated for my appointments.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:27 PM on December 20, 2012

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