Acrylic nails and nail polish during surgery?

Scheduled for a tummy tuck, lipo and breast augmentation for October 14th. I have acrylic nails on, with gel nail polish. Do I just need th polish removed or should I plan on removing my acrylic nails as well?

Doctor Answers 13

Acrylic nails and surgery

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
I f you are happy with your acrylic nails, you should not have to remove any of them.  If they interfere with pulse oxymmetry, just ask the surgeon to place the sensor on you big toe.  Problem solved

Oklahoma City Plastic Surgeon

Monitoring Oxygen Levels during Surgery

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The reason that some anesthesiologists ask that you remove nail polish or acrylic nails is to be able to monitor the oxygen levels in your blood while you are asleep. The polish or acrylic can block the signal to the machine and not allow it to function. There are different makes and models of pulse oximetry machines (the machine that actually measure the oxygen levels), and they have different types of probes that can go on fingers, toes, or earlobes and it depends on which type they have available.

Also, the specific surgery you are having makes a difference – it your surgeon needs to access your legs for liposuction, the toe probe may not be an option, or if you are getting a facelift, he ear is out and you may be stuck with a probe on your finger. It would be best to contact your plastic surgeon’s office and they can give you a clear answer on this. Usually, there are ways to work around it so you don’t have to ruin your manicure. 


{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
You should removing the acrylic nails and polish.  During your surgery, the level of oxygen in your blood is measured with a device that shines a light through the nail of your fingers or toes.  Nail polish or an acrylic nail can interfere with this device.

Shim Ching, MD
Honolulu Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Acrylic nails

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
 I agree with my colleagues in the sense that acrylic nails do harbor more bacteria than normal nails,  And can make getting a oxygen reading more difficult. However we do not request that patients remove nail polish in my practice. We have been able to place the oxygen monitoring equipment on patient's toes and earlobes and obtain readings that are accurate. I would discuss your particular situation with your surgeon and see with their preference is.

Acrylic nails and nail polish during surgery?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Thanks for your question! We usually recommend patients to not wear any type of nail polish during surgery.  Nail polish decreases the ability for the pulse oximetry to pick up your oxygen level during surgery.  If you really want to have nail polish, try to have a light colored nail polish or remove nail polish from 1-2 fingers.  

Acrylic nails and surgery

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Typically we suggest not wearing any nail polish or acrylics on each index finger of both hands. That way the pulse oximetry device can accurately show your oxygen intake. Every surgeon and office is different, so be sure to ask your board certified plastic surgeon what he/she prefers.

Thank you for your question!

Acrylic nails and nail polish during surgery?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Best to check with your plastic surgeon, but probably a good idea to have a few digits available to allow your anesthesiologist to place monitors. Best wishes for a safe procedure and a speedy recovery.

Acrylic nails or nail polish during surgery?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Best to ask what the policy is at the facility. Most often than not, it doesn't matter if you have either of the above. The device used to measure the oxygen level in your blood during surgery can be placed on a toe or the ear lobe. A simple phone call to your PS office can clarify this.

Best wishes,

Gary Horndeski M.D.

Gary M. Horndeski, MD
Texas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 230 reviews

Acrylic Nails, Nail Polish, and a Mommy Makeover

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
The main concern about acrylic nails and nail polish is the impact on the function of a pulse oximeter, which measures the oxygen level of the blood. The answer is neither makes much difference.

A pulse oximeter fits like a clothes pin (except it's more comfortable!) over the end of a finger (or a toe or an earlobe). One part of the clip emits both infrared and red light, and the other side of the clip has a light detector. The oxygenated blood absorbs less red light, but more infrared, than de-oxygenated blood. Pulse oximetry is routinely used in surgery to monitor the patient's breathing.

Two studies published by the National Institutes of Health looked at the impact of acrylic nails and nail polish on the function of pulse oximetry. They concluded that neither acrylic nails nor nail polish had a significant impact. 

However, you should ask your plastic surgeon about the policy of the surgical facility. They may still ask that you remove your acrylic nails or your nail polish.

Heather J. Furnas, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Acrylic nails and nail polish during surgery?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Yes, you should remove at least one or two of your acrylic nails, preferably on your thumbs.  The pulse oximeter monitor, which monitors your heart rate and oxygen saturation with a light beam passed through the finger,  requires a clean/clear nail.  Best wishes with your tummy tuck, lipo, and breast augmentation, Dr Lepore.

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.