Oct 9, 2008

How Much Do They Really Hurt?! (Tattoos)

"That must...sting", is that what comes to your head when you think about tattoos? Getting a tattoo would be so much easier if the myths associated with them didn't exist.

You have the design, your friends are rooting for you and the artist's waiting with the needle. The problem? You can't get yourself to sit on the chair, the pain! A majority of the people get put off from getting a tattoo because of the "pain" factor. So how much does it really hurt?



The pain you'll experience while getting a tattoo depends on the part you're getting the tattoo on. Also, the threshold for pain tolerance varies from person to person, so if you're jumpy around needles or blood, I recommend you should rethink about getting that tattoo.
What exactly does the needle do?

The most common method of tattooing that we see these days is the electric tattoo machine; which inserts ink into the skin pores with the help of a group of needles that are soldered onto a metal bar, which is fixed to an oscillating unit. The unit rapidly and repeatedly drives the needles in and out of the skin, usually 70-150 times a second. It penetrates about 1/16th of an inch into your skin.
Where Should I Get It

Generally, the tattoo is more painful if applied to areas of the body where there is less muscle and fatty tissue covering bone, like wrists, ankles, chests, and other normally sensitive body areas. Upper arms are usually the least painful, while the ankles and sternum can be quite sensitive. As a rule of thumb, any part that's too ticklish is likely to be sensitive, hence, painful. But as I said, it varies from person to person.
Likely to be painful

* Scalp
* Eyelids
* Near the ear
* Neck - Varies
* Near the spine
* Chest
* Ribs
* Shoulder
* Near the armpit
* Wrist
* Back of the hand
* Hand
* Lower back
* Hip
* Near the belly button
* Inner thigh
* Near the knee
* Ankle
* Upper part of the foot
* Inside of the foot

Likely to be least painful

* Neck - Varies
* Upper Back
* Upper Arms
* Forearms
* Side of the stomach
* Calf

This is not to be taken as word on stone, the sensitivity of a body part differs from person to person.
What hurts more, outlining or shading/coloring?

The outline is usually the most painful work, because the needles are being used to create a solid black line that will define the tattoo, and so it is inserted deeply and carefully to ensure complete and effective coverage. The shading is usually not as painful, but this also depends upon the depth of penetration and the desired effect. It also largely depends on the skill of the tattoo artist, if the pain is unbearable tell the artist!
What does it feel like?

It hurts when the needle first breaks your skin, however your body copes with it by releasing endorphins that dull the pain. It can feel pleasant if the area is not sensitive, even ticklish. The tattooing process isn't exactly "painful", it feels more like heat. So the more sensitive a area, the hotter and prickier it will be; some have even reported the vibration of the machine as being pleasant!
What if it hurts too much?

If you feel a lot of pain, you can ask the artist to stop. Take a short break, or come back in a couple of days. Tattoos can be applied in more than one session, so do what you're most comfortable with. However, I personally recommend getting the process completed at one go.
What You Shouldn't Do

* Never be intoxicated in any way while getting the tattoo, most people assume that it would make the process less painful, but it does more harm than good. It is likely to thin your blood and lead to excessive bleeding. Besides, no good tattoo artist will work on you if you're intoxicated, in fact its illegal to do so in most of the states/countries.
* Aspirin or ibuprofen thin the blood, and will thus result in excessive bleeding.
* Never get tattooed when you are experiencing any serious health problems or illnesses.
* Avoid the intake of caffeine on the day your tattoo.


* Its bound to hurt atleast a little irrespective of how small the tattoo is, or the place you get it on, but its more than often bearable.
* Take a friend or someone from the family with you for moral support.
* Try distracting yourself while you're getting tattooed. Listening to music, counting numbers or just about anything that takes your mind of the needle.
* If you aren't your best around needles but are still determined to get a tattoo, don't look at it while you get tattooed. The pain is usually bearable, its people's fears that get the best of them.
* Hum.
* Chew on some gum.
* Think of all the other people who've gotten a tattoo, Pamela Anderson, Victoria Bechkam, Angelina Jolie, even Hilton! If Hilton can get one, why can't you?!
* Think of all the people you're gonna rave about it to.
* Its just a moment of pain for a lifetime of compliments!

After The Tattoo

* If the pain persists, you could wrap a towel or cloth around a ice pack(you don't want to get the tattoo wet) to relieve the pain.
* Painkillers should be avoided as they may thin the blood during the first day or two of healing, but after that, you should be safe to use anything that you've found helpful for pain relief in the past.
* Aftercare - its critical for the well being of you and your tattoo.

Getting a tattoo is not something to be done in the spur of the moment, its a permanent etching on your body and it needs to be well though out. It might hurt, but contrary to myth it's almost always bearable.

If you have any experiences/suggestions, or if you have any tips that 've missed out, leave a comment!


JoblessPunk on 11:51 PM said...

Pain is a non issue when getting a tattoo. EVERYONE says "oh that must have hurt!"

I don't understand why pain is always the first thing that people think about. If you really want that tattoo forever on your skin then the pain seriously should not be an issue.

to tell you the truth, they don't even hurt!
I have tattoos on the inside of my pointer fingers. I don't know many other places on your body that could "hurt" while getting it. But that is probably up there with the most sensitive/bony parts of your body.

Have fun, get the tattoo, experience it and enjoy it.

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