Piercings Have No Place in Operating Room

By Heather Vita - February 22, 2017

Body piercings are a personal choice and one that has become much more popular recently.

However, show up with a piercing when you’re scheduled for surgery and you won’t be too popular – at least with the team in the Operating Room at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. That’s because piercings are a real safety issue for patients undergoing surgery.


Tabatha, from Creation Body Piercing, looks on as Registered Nurses, Nancy and James learn how to use newly purchased piercing removal equipment for the Operating Room, generously funded through the Family CARE (Care Advancements Recommended by Employees) Grant program.

Dawn Korol, Team Leader, Operating Room explained, “If piercings are left in, they can cause burns, airway issues, and even accidental removal upon changing the position of an anesthetized patient. We want our patients to have the safest surgical experience possible, and to ensure that happens, we need piercings removed.”

There are situations, however, where piercings haven’t been removed prior to surgery – sometimes in emergency cases – and staff have now been provided with specialized equipment and training to remove piercings that may remain.

Funded through a Family CARE (Care Advancements Recommended by Employees) Grant thanks to donors to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation and the Volunteer Association, the piercing removal equipment can be used to safely extract piercings. While staff in the Operating Room emphasized that patients are responsible for removing piercings before coming for surgery, they are happy to have the equipment needed to remove when necessary.

Recently the team in the Operating Room learned about the different types of jewelry that may form a piercing, thanks to an education session led by Matt Bressmer, the Owner, Creation Body Piercing. With everything from captive bead rings to surface bars and stretchers for ears, he taught that there are multiple options that staff may encounter. Bressmer also showcased several glass retainers that could be used to safely keep the piercing from growing over while the regular jewelry has been removed.

He also stressed that some piercings are easier to remove than others – with nostril piercings being notoriously more difficult.

When asked if it was cost prohibitive to have a piercing removed and reinserted after surgery he replied, “Absolutely not. We only charge $5 to remove a piercing and usually about $5 to re-insert it. The biggest cost from an initial piercing is the jewelry itself, so it’s really not a big deal to remove it.” Bressmer did add that some piercings can be tougher to maintain if removed, but stressed, “It’s more important to have a piercing removed than to leave it in if you’re going for surgery.”

As the session concluded Korol added, “By having tools to remove piercings pre-operatively, we can provide the best possible care ensuring no injury. We are very grateful to be able to provide this service when required.”

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