Why Are Some Surgery Patients Asked to Remove Their Nail Polish?
During select procedures, and in accordance with a hospital’s specific rules, patients may be asked to refrain from wearing make-up or nail polish. But, how exactly do your face and nails influence your procedure? Wouldn’t a competent doctor want his or her nervous patient to feel her best and gain confidence through her appearance during such a stressful time?
The reasons are simple, actually. Make-up and nail polish can inhibit the surgical team’s ability to monitor your well-being while you are under anesthesia. Remember, you will not be able to speak or react, so your body has to do the communicating for you. Make-up masks a woman’s true skin color, making it impossible for the surgeon to read how she is handling the surgery. In the same vein, hospitals use the nail beds as an indicator of a patient’s oxygen level. If her nail beds appear bluish, it signals that she may be in trouble. Nail polish prevents your surgeon from getting a clear nail bed reading.
Only some hospitals request that polish is removed strictly to check a patient’s nail bed, while others use different equipment. However, nail polish can also pose a challenge in this scenario as well. An oximeter is a tiny clip that is placed on your finger during surgery to measure your oxygen level. If your nails are painted a dark hue, such as navy, black, or a deep purple, the machine will have difficulty reading through the colour.
Because the oximeter only requires the use of one finger on each hand, you can usually keep the majority of your manicure, if you want, in most situations. After all, gels, wraps, and tips can get expensive, and it is much more affordable to replace two nails than to get a full do-over.
When in Doubt, Call Ahead
Sometimes when your pre-op sheets say “no nail polish,” they are nothing more than a form letter for all surgical patients. The best way to find out if polish is permitted during your procedure is to as your surgeon directly.
There are times when the pre-op team will allow nail polish as long as they can see your nail beds through it. This means that you may be allowed to apply a clear shine on your nails just to avoid the “naked” feeling, or in some cases, a French manicure may be permitted if they can press the nail and still clearly see the blanching and blood return. Other surgeons may permit nail polish as long as you don’t wear make-up. It really depends on the procedure.
What About Toes?
Most of the time, surgeons will not even look at your toes, and polishing them is usually allowed, so why not treat yourself? Wouldn’t you want to rock a cute pedicure while you are recovering? Just think, a bright orange and neon green will knock the socks off of the prep team, and put a little smile on your own face as well. Day-brightening colours or cheery patterns can really elevate your mood and may even be the talk of the OR while you are under, as long as you’re not wearing surgery stockings, that is!
You may find that getting your nails done is one of the simple pleasures that we ladies have in life. You get to feel pampered, and beautiful, and sometimes those decorative extremities give us just enough hope to make it through a tough time, like a health crisis. However, your health during surgery needs to be your first consideration. So, regardless of how valuable your appearance is to you, listen to your doctor because your well-being is much more important.
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