Skip to Content

Can You Wear Nail Polish During Surgery?

When it comes to medical procedures, you may wonder what can and cannot be done during the process.

One common question asked is, “Can you wear nail polish during surgery?”.

I’m going to answer that question for you, so you know if you need to remove your nail polish or false nails before you go into the hospital for surgery.

Can You Wear Nail Polish During Surgery?

Can You Wear Nail Polish During Surgery?

On the day you are scheduled to undergo surgery, there is one important question that needs to be answered: Can You Wear Nail Polish During Surgery?

In general, it is not recommended that patients wear nail polish or acrylic nails during surgery. This is due to the use of a probe in many operations which measure both air pressure and oxygen levels.

If the fingernails have nail polish or acrylic nails applied, an accurate measurement cannot be taken and this could lead to complications during your procedure.

Therefore, if possible, it is always best to remove your nail polish before having any surgery done. 

Not only can wearing nail polish prevent accurate readings from being taken by the probe, but it can also cause infection following surgery too.

It’s important for your doctor to keep you safe by ensuring they have access to a true reading of your oxygen level if necessary during your procedure, so removing all layers of nail polish and/or acrylic nails before going into the operating theater is crucial for everyone’s health and safety.

Reasons to Avoid Nail Polish During Surgery

Oxygen Levels Monitoring

During surgery, it’s essential for the medical team to accurately monitor your oxygen levels.

This helps ensure your safety and well-being throughout the procedure. One way doctors and nurses do this is by observing the color of your nail beds, as it serves as an important indicator of blood circulation.

Wearing nail polish can interfere with this vital observation, potentially leading to inaccurate readings and jeopardizing your safety.

Pulse Oximeter Accuracy

Another reason to avoid nail polish during surgery is its potential impact on the pulse oximeter, a device used to measure the oxygen level in your blood.

The pulse oximeter works by sending light through your nail bed and calculating the oxygen saturation based on the absorbed and reflected light.

Wearing nail polish, especially dark or opaque shades, can interfere with the proper functioning of the pulse oximeter and make it more challenging for the medical team to accurately assess your oxygen levels during the surgery.

Reasons to Avoid Nail Polish During Surgery

Risk of Infection

Surgery carries some risk of infection, and the medical staff does everything possible to minimize this risk.

Wearing nail polish or acrylic nails can increase the risk of infection, as bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms can become trapped under the polish or artificial nails.

Before surgery, it’s crucial to ensure your nails are clean and free of any polish, which can help minimize the risk of infection and other complications.


Finally, avoiding nail polish during surgery can help prevent contamination of the surgical area.

Nail polish can chip or peel during surgery, which could contaminate the sterile field and potentially compromise the surgery’s success.

Keeping your nails polish-free reduces the risk of such contamination and helps ensure a smoother surgical process.

Preparing for Surgery

Timeline for Nail Polish Removal

It’s important to remove your nail polish, acrylic nails, and artificial nails before surgery.

Ideally, you should remove nail polish at least 24 hours before your surgery to ensure adequate time for the nails to be completely clean.

This allows medical staff to accurately monitor the oxygen level in your blood through the nail bed during the operation.

What to Remove: Acrylic and Artificial Nails

In addition to removing nail polish, you should also remove acrylic nails or any artificial nails before your procedure.

This is because they can interfere with the medical team’s ability to monitor oxygen levels in your blood, as well as increase the risk of infection.

Remember, it’s best to keep your nails bare before undergoing any major surgical procedure.

Post-Surgery Care and Recovery

Additional Pre-Surgical Preparations

Your preparations for surgery should not end with removing nail polish and artificial nails. Here are some other essential guidelines that will help you get ready for the big day:

  • Shower and wash your hair the morning of your surgery. It’s important to be as clean as possible to minimize the risk of infection.
  • Do not wear makeup. Like nail products, makeup can interfere with the monitoring of oxygen levels during surgery and may also be flammable.
  • If you have long hair, consider putting it into a braid or a ponytail, or bring an elastic band with you to tie your hair back once you arrive at the hospital.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything up to six hours before you arrive at the medical center for your surgery.
  • Bring your insurance card with you if you have one.
  • Leave jewelry and valuables at home to ensure their safety.

Post-Surgery Care and Recovery

Caring for Nails After Surgery

After your surgery, it’s essential to take proper care of your nails, especially if you had to remove any nail polish or if the surgery affected your fingernails or toenails.

Keeping your nails clean and trimmed can help prevent any infection or complications.

Keep an eye on the color and appearance of your nails; any changes could indicate issues with oxygen levels in your blood.

Home Care and Tips

Here are some home care tips to ensure healthy and well-maintained nails post-surgery:

  • Keep your nails clean and dry to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus.
  • Trim your nails regularly, cutting them straight across and rounding the tips slightly.
  • Avoid biting or picking at your nails, as this can lead to nail damage or infection.
  • Moisturize your nails and cuticles daily to keep them from becoming dry and brittle.
  • Choose a gentle and non-acetone nail polish remover when it’s time to remove any polish.
  • Give your nails a break from polish every once in a while to allow them to breathe and recover.

Remember, it’s essential to communicate with your healthcare provider throughout your recovery process, especially if you have concerns about your nails.

Be sure to follow their specific instructions regarding when it’s safe to apply nail polish again and when you can resume regular activity. 

Can You Wear Nail Polish During Surgery?

No, it’s best to avoid wearing nail polish during surgery. Nail polish can interfere with the pulse oximeter, a device that measures oxygen levels in your blood.

Surgeons and medical staff use this information to monitor your vital signs throughout the surgery, and it’s essential for them to have accurate readings.

What About Acrylic Nails or Other Cosmetic Enhancements?

Similar to nail polish, acrylic nails should also be removed before surgery.

Acrylic nails and other cosmetic enhancements can obstruct the proper functioning of the pulse oximeter and make it difficult for the medical team to monitor your oxygen levels during the procedure.

What About Acrylic Nails or Other Cosmetic Enhancements?

Can I Wear Nail Polish on My Toes During Surgery?

 Yes, you can keep nail polish on your toes during surgery, as it doesn’t affect the monitoring of oxygen levels.

However, if your surgery involves your foot or toenail, it might be necessary to remove the polish.

How Long Should I Wait After Removing Nail Polish Before My Surgery?

It is recommended to remove nail polish at least 24 hours before surgery. This will ensure a clean and sterile environment for the procedure.

Does the Color of My Nail Polish Matter?

 Darker shades like black and brown can make it even more difficult for the pulse oximeter to function correctly.

However, since wearing any nail polish is not recommended for surgery, it’s best to remove polish of any color before your procedure.

Can a Family Member or Friend Help Me Remove My Nail Polish Before Surgery?

Yes, having a family member or friend assist you in removing your nail polish can be helpful, especially if you have difficulty doing it yourself. Just make sure it is done at least 24 hours before your surgery.


No, wearing nail polish during surgery is not recommended. This is because it can interfere with the use of a probe and pulse oximeter, which check the level of oxygen and air pressure within your blood. 

Plus, wearing nail polish on the day of surgery, can increase your risk of infection and contamination of the surgical area. It’s best to remove any kind of nail product before undergoing major surgery.

Share To Keep This Post For Later!