How Painful is Getting A Tattoo Really?

How Painful is Getting A Tattoo Really?

So you are excited, or dare we say a little nervous, about getting your first tattoo. Sure, there are all kinds of things that could be causing the butterflies. However, more often than not, the culprit is not knowing what to expect when it comes to pain. Even for seasoned tattoo aficionados, getting something done on an entirely new body part can be cause for pre-chair jitters. But just how much will it actually hurt? 

Deep breaths

traditional tattoo
By Cleyton from Vivid Ink Birmingham

Well, first of all, you need to remember that everyone has a different threshold for pain. While some may not even bat an eye-lash at the second hour of shading over the ribs (surely only someone from the Marvel Universe, but still), others may nearly hyperventilate at the first touch of the needle.

No matter under which category you fall, the best thing you can do is to train yourself to breathe slow, deep breaths, so that you can relax and keep your nervous system calm. It will help you sit more serenely for longer, and let your artist work on a non-jumpy and fidgety canvas, which translates into a better environment for everyone and a better looking piece of body art. 

Feel-good hormones ease the pain – at first

Firstly – it is usually not that bad. And should it get too much, you can always ask your artists to take a break. Your initial fear may be the worst going in to it. Then your body will kick up its feel-good hormone production in order to help you get through the pain. Adrenaline and endorphins co-conspire to let you have an easier time sitting with the discomfort. However, if you have a long session, that supply will begin to wane and run out, as your body can only produce so much of them at one time. That is why usually the last couple of hours of a full-day sit will feel the worst, even if your artist is working on less-sensitive areas. 

If it’s a big deal for you, consider your placement

tiger eyes tattoo
By Jo from Vivid Ink Sutton

Of course, the placement of your tattoo will hugely impact the level of pain. Generally speaking, where there is more flesh, such as the thigh, buttocks, and outer upper arm, will feel a little easier, whereas more thin-skinned or bony parts with more nerve endings bunched together closer to the surface will offer more of a challenge.

Inner forearm, close to the elbow, knee, breastbone, neck, feet, ankles and armpits are all placements that are reported to be more painful. So, perhaps, if you are getting your first tattoo, go with an slightly more forgiving surface on your body and then, when you know more or less what to expect, work your way up. 

Remember when you are about to get in the chair – literally millions of people throughout history have gone through what you are about to. Not only did they live to tell about it, but they have beautiful and unique pieces of art to remind them of how good it is to face and conquer your fears from time to time. 


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