Do I Have to Remove my Acrylic Nails Before Plastic Surgery?

This is sort of a strange question, i have acrylic nails and i know i have to remove all nail polish prior to surgery but what about my acrylic nails? I'm scheduled for a tummy tuck and breast augmentation.

Doctor Answers 7

Acrylic nails removal before plastic surgery

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Only on 1 nail is needed to be cleared, so the oxygen monitor can function correctly during your surgery. This is for your safety.


Artificial nails and breast augmentation

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Fingernails and especially acrylic fingernail extensions have been shown in multiple scientific studies to harbor pathogenic bacteria. For this reason, long fingernails and acrylic fingernail extensions are prohibited by most hospitals for staff members providing direct patient care. ALL accredited surgical facilities prohibit employees from maintaining long fingernails and from wearing acrylic fingernail extensions. 
As a patient undergoing the placement of foreign objects (breast implants) for cosmetic enhancement, you should take this issue as seriously as hospitals and surgical facilities do. Fingernail hygiene is an extremely important part of avoiding postoperative infections. For three days prior to your date of surgery, use a nail brush (or unused toothbrush) to thoroughly scrub your nails above and below at least twice a day.  On the morning of surgery, scrub your nails using the antibacterial solution provided to you by our practice. Continue this special attention to fingernail hygiene for four weeks following your surgery. 

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

Acrylic nails and surgery

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Most likely you will not have to do this.  The reason the polish can be a problem is that it can interfere with blood oxygen content sensors.  Newer sensors are much better, but to be sure, ask the nurse when get your preop call.

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Acrylic Nails & Pulse Oximetry

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When cosmetic surgery is performed, safety should always be the number one priority. For this reason, pulse oximetry is used to monitor oxygen levels throughout the surgical experience. This process is started in the pre-operative holding area and is continued throughout surgery and recovery.

Pulse oximetry involves placing a device on the finger which measures oxygen levels through the finger nails. It’s not unusual for patients to present for surgery wearing acrylic nails and finger nail polish. Finger nail polish can interfere with pulse oximetry and for this reason should be removed prior to surgery. In the vast majority of cases, acrylic nails don’t represent a problem when pulse oximetry is utilized. If you have questions regarding this topic, make sure they’re answered during your pre-operative consultation. 

Nail Polish and Surgery

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A critical component of modern anesthesia which has made it extremely safe has been our ability to continuously monitor the level of oxygen in your blood stream at all times. To do so a clip probe is applied to one of your nails which peers through the nail at the blood blow below. Nail polish blocks the "view" and most facilies will request your give them a "clear" index finger. Check with yout surgeon to be sure:

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Preparing for Surgery

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That is a good question.  It really just depends, but in most cases it is okay.  You finger or nail is used to have a monitor placed on it for monitor your oxygenation during surgery.

You may want to remove them to be on the safe side.

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

Acrylic nail removal prior to anesthesia

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The primary reason for this is that we tend to use devices that read your oxygen level through your natural nailbeds. Some acrylic nails do make it more difficult.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 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.