Cupping Therapy on Tattoos |

Cupping Therapy on Tattoos

Cupping Therapy Questions and Answers Blog
If you have questions on Cupping Therapy, our team of industry experts will have your answers.

Cupping Therapy Q&A Series


Thank you for joining us for another installment of our Cupping Therapy Q&A Series. Here, we feature clinical questions submitted to us by ACE Massage Cupping Therapy practitioners. Our educators offer some brief insight on the topic so that you can expand your working knowledge on this revolutionary bodywork therapy and its benefits.

Question 1

A very common question that we receive is from practitioners looking for guidance regarding the proper usage of cupping therapy on or around tattoos. This can include tattoos on the arms or legs, and sometimes on the back or neck. Is it safe to perform cupping therapy on clients with tattoos?


Yes, you can use cups after they have completely healed. Tattoos will continue to heal and ‘shed skin’ for up to two weeks after being done. My recommended minimum is to wait 4-6 weeks before cupping on or around tattoos, and start with less suction and duration of exposure for initial applications. Vacuum therapy over tattoos is often beneficial to loosen scar tissue and adhesion. It is really fun to put a large cup over the area and see if there are any dents in the tissue. Of course, never vacuum over a very new tattoo earlier than the minimum waiting period.

Anita J. Shannon

Question 2

A very common question that we receive is from practitioners looking for guidance regarding the proper usage of cupping therapy on or around tattoos. This can include tattoos on the arms or legs, and sometimes on the back or neck. Is it safe to perform cupping therapy on clients with tattoos?

Answer 1

When it comes to working on or around tattoos, remember it can take the body up to 6 months to fully heal. With that being said, do not work on fresh tattoos. If this is a fresh tattoo, give it time to heal first and then cup around it. If it’s an older tattoo but you have swelling around the neck and head, first get approval from a doctor. Swelling with no injury around the head is always concerning. That being said, I will take it that the swelling has an acute cause like the tattoo. Drain the lymph from the clavicle area to the axillary. Lymph will flow from superior of the spine of the scapula to the clavicle. If need be, drop your pressure and use suction and release techniques only. Little goes a long way.

And yes, you can have Vasculitis, which is inflammation of blood vessels. There are several types and they are usually rare but can cause tissue and organ damage.

Garrett Brown

Answer 2

While the description of the cupping process did not contain all the details on which we could make an educated evaluation, I would say that the lymphatics are definitely involved.

First, it is imperative to perform massage and/or cupping of the upper chest, shoulders/axilla region, neck prior to moving any fluid of the head or neck. The path of fluid movement must be prepared to receive fluid prior to moving the fluid. In other words, clear the highway before you start your journey. Not doing so can cause a backup of fluid. Next, avoid tattoos that are fresh. I like to give them a year before I work on or around them. I am conservative when it comes to any skin procedure including fillers, botox, or tattoos. Also, never use gliding techniques along major blood vessels in the neck. It’s gentle vac and release only.

If this was my client, I would evaluate them carefully to determine whether cupping therapy was safe, then proceed with gentle mld to move fluid congestion. Hope this was helpful.

Rita D. Woods

Additional Information

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About the Authors

Anita J. Shannon
Anita J. Shannon

Educator Info

  • ACE Founder
  • Director of ACE
  • Massage Therapy Hall of Fame Inductee – 2011


Anita J. Shannon has been a licensed massage therapist and licensed cosmetologist since 1983. She specializes in skin care, body treatments, clinical aromatherapy, and various modalities of massage therapy. She has been a national educator since 1990, appearing at numerous national spa and massage conventions each year. For four years, Anita appeared as a co-host on the television program “Health Options Today” with Dr. Mitchell Ghen.

Anita is the founder and director of Advanced Continuing Education (ACE), an NCBTMB CE provider established in 2001. Anita has presented hundreds of workshops on ACE Massage Cupping and MediCupping therapy throughout the US and internationally since 2002. Anita has been published on the subject of cupping therapy in industry publications such as Massage Today, Massage Magazine, and Les Nouvelles Esthetiques. She has published two educational videos on ACE Massage Cupping bodywork, two on MediCupping therapy and one on TheraCupping home care, and is currently writing a book on VacuTherapies. In 2011, Anita was inducted into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame.

In 2016, Anita opened ACE Institute Online, an online education portal designed to bring cupping therapy training into the digital age. Since its debut in 2016, ACE Institute Online has introduced the revolutionary techniques found in ACE Massage Cupping and MediCupping to over ten thousand students worldwide.

Garrett Brown

Educator Info

  • Joined ACE in 2018


I have been interested in the power of touch most of my life, but I worked in the trade industry as a welder, machinist, and maintenance mechanic. In 2012 I made a 180 degree career change and found massage therapy, which has become an absolute passion. After being licensed in January 2014, I opened a private practice specializing in post-surgery, chronic pain, scars, burns, breast cancer, and any medical massage I could be trained in.

I met Anita Shannon at a trade show and immediately began taking continuing education courses with ACE.  After going through Levels 1 & 2, breast health intensive with Anita J. Shannon, and Lymph/cupping with Beth-Ellen Zang, and following Anita to classes and trade shows, Anita gave me the opportunity to teach. I look forward to inspiring and helping therapists grow in cupping therapies.

Rita Woods

Educator Info

  • Joined ACE in 2017


Bachelors of Science from Southern Illinois University in Workforce Education and Development with a specialty in vocational training and education.
Associates of Science from Florida State College in Medical Laboratory Technology.
Diploma in Massage Therapy from the Mandarin School of Chinese Medicine, Jacksonville, FL.

Work History:

Private Practice Medical Massage 2004-present.
I worked in my own office from 2004-2013 in Dahlonega, GA. In 2013 I moved to Asheville, NC and started working as an independent contractor at Hawk Ridge Therapeutic where I have successfully performed over 12,000 massages.

I received my certification as a Complete Decongestive Therapist (CDT) also known as a lymphedema therapist, from the Norton School of Lymphedema through a Duke University continuing education program.

I also specialize in vacutherapy, myofascial release and am a certified kinesiology taper. A large part of my practice clientele is physician referred.

Writer, Educator and Speaker:

I was a columnist for Massage Today Magazine from 2008-2012 and was the chief pathophysiology researcher for the textbook, Step by Step Massage Therapy Protocols for Common Conditions published by Lippincott in 2011. McGraw Hill Publishers hired me to peer review a national massage therapy study guide in 2007.
As a continuing education instructor at Florida State College, I served on the Deans Committee for new program development. I created the massage therapy program at Florida State College in Jacksonville, FL from conception to final approval by the State Board of Education. I was the only bodyworker invited to speak at the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas in 2005.

My company, Darien Lourde, Inc was a continuing education provider for massage from 2002-2012 which included 2 instructors who provided continuing education for Massage Envy in Arizona. Each year I continue to travel and teach through the massage therapy program at John A Logan College in Carterville, IL. I teach a variety of continuing education courses there including kinesiology taping, Vacutherapy, reflexology, medical massage and the Rejuvenating Facelift Massage technique.
In addition to my medical and massage experience, I taught emergency preparedness and basic firearms at the University of North Georgia from 2009-2012. This university was also known as the Military College of Georgia

Special Talents:

I have the ability to  transform complicated information into a presentable format that is understood by the general population. My teaching skills are superb. I have a passion for presenting information that is useful and practical.

Military History:

As a Naval Reservist from 1985 through 1993, I served in the medical corp including managing a blood bank in a 500 bed fleet hospital in the Middle East during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I am a combat veteran and have received numerous medals and awards throughout my military career.

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