There will be some pain associated with getting a tattoo. Anyone that tells you differently is not being totally truthful. The majority of people who have tattoos will tell you that the process is more uncomfortable than actually painful.
The amount of pain, or discomfort, that is associated with a tattoo varies according to your pain threshold, the type of tattoo you are getting and the placement of the ink work.
There are things that you can do to minimize the amount of pain or discomfort you experience during the tattoo process.
Choose a location that is normally less painful
Where the tattoo is placed on your body will make a huge difference in the amount of pain or discomfort you experience during the procedure. If you are worried about the pain, it is best if you get the ink placed on a body location that is known to be less sensitive.
Areas that are less sensitive include:
- The outer section of your upper arm
- The forearm
- Your shoulder; both in the front and the rear
- The lower back
- Your thigh
- The calf of your leg
- Your buttocks
Areas that are very sensitive include:
- Your neck
- Your nipples
- Your ribs
- The inner portion of your wrist
- The inner portion of your arm including the elbow
- Your hands and fingers
- The top of your foot and your toes
- Your groin
- The inner portion of your knee
- Your ankle
- Along your spine
- Your face/forehead/lips
Make sure you choose one of the less sensitive areas, and if you are uncertain talk to the tattoo artist. They can honestly tell you which body sections are less sensitive to pain.
Eat, Drink, and Sleep
Before you go to get your tattoo, you want to get plenty of rest, eat a good meal, and be properly hydrated. These things can help you to reduce the amount of discomfort you feel while getting the design inked onto your body.
Eating allows your blood sugar to be stable. When you do not eat then your blood sugar level drops and the amount of pain sensitivity you experience increases as your blood sugar levels go down.
If you are dehydrated the process of sticking the needle into the skin is made more difficult and painful. Properly hydrated skin is more supple and easier for the tattoo needle to penetrate properly.
Getting enough sleep allows your body to be at its best and that means you can handle more pain and stress. If you are sleep deprived then your pain threshold changes and the tattoo may hurt more to be applied. Read more how to look after your new tattoo.
Use a Reputable Tattoo Artist
The tattoo artist that you use can make a huge difference in the amount of discomfort or pain you experience. A professional tattoo artist learns exactly how deep they can penetrate the skin to deposit the ink in the perfect location. If their needle goes deeper or more shallow the pain is increased and the possibility that the ink will look distorted or will seep out of the skin is increased.
A reputable tattoo artist knows that the work is painful and they will talk to you as they work to determine if you need a break or a rest period. They are also experienced at distracting clients so they do not focus on the pain as much.
Your tattoo artist may recommend a numbing gel or lotion be applied prior to the application. Some artists use other numbing techniques such as cold therapy. If you are getting ink from someone who knows what they are doing then your pain will be less.
There are several methods of distracting your mind while you are getting a tattoo. Some of the most frequently used methods are:
- Bring a friend with you that you can talk to during the procedure
- Talk to the tattoo artist
- Listen to music or a book on tape via your earbuds and cellphone
- Chew gum
Another method of distracting yourself and reducing your pain is for you to focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly and manage your breathing. This method will help you to remain calm and you will be focused on your breathing so less likely to focus on your pain.
The slow and rhythmic breathing technique is used by pregnant women and by people getting many things done. Controlling your breathing controls your blood pressure and anxiety levels so you feel less pain and more in control.
Most people think that consuming alcohol before they go get a tattoo will allow them to feel less pain. You should not drink alcohol before going and you should actually refrain from any alcohol consumption for at least 24-hours prior to your tattoo appointment.
Alcohol can dehydrate you so the pain is increased. Alcohol makes your blood thinner and it makes you bleed more. Alcohol can make you nauseated and possibly make you have to urinate more frequently.
Most tattoo artists will NOT apply a tattoo to anyone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they come to their shop. This stops them from being sued by someone when the person sobers up and realizes they have gotten a tattoo they really did not want.
Do NOT Go if You are Sick
If you have an appointment to get a tattoo, and you wake up on appointment day feeling under the weather then cancel the appointment. When you are sick you are more likely to feel a greater amount of pain than when you are healthy.
If you are sick your body is busy fighting that illness so the healing time for your tattoo will be increased, says tattoo expert Lisa of painfuljoy.
If you have never had a tattoo then you may be working yourself up about the amount of pain that is involved with the procedure. There will be some discomfort but most people find that the pain is nothing like what they thought it would be. Nine times out of ten, you are worrying about nothing and will find that the discomfort level is manageable.