We need to be honest here; tattoos hurt, which is one of the main reasons people avoid them. There's no doubt that tattoos hurt, but because everyone has different pain tolerance levels, it can sometimes be difficult to truly describe the tattoo experience to someone who has never had one.
Tattoos hurt without a doubt, but since everyone has a different pain tolerance level, it can be difficult to truly describe the tattoo experience to someone who has never had one. We will discuss how one can truly manage tattoo pain in the following paragraphs, and whether painkillers are really the best pain management option. Without further ado, let's begin!
1. In the First Place, Why Do Tattoos Hurt?
It is important to understand why everyone's tattoo experience is different before we get into the specifics. Different people have different pain tolerance levels, as we mentioned in the introduction. Why is that so? In this case, the levels of pain are not solely determined by external pain causes (the tattoo needle) but also by:
- The size of the tattoo
- The location of the tattoo on the body
- The tattoo artist’s skills and technique
- Your personal physical health
- Your own preparation for the tattoo
So what do we mean by listing out all of the factors that influence pain levels? In order to better understand each of them, let's go over them in more detail.
It is always easier to manage pain when you know it will only last for a few seconds or minutes, isn't it? Because you will be done with your tattoo in no time, getting a smaller tattoo may mentally affect your pain management.
Even if we disregard the psychological concept in this example, we can still agree that larger tattoos require more work and longer sessions, and logically, they might also hurt more. We wouldn't be wrong if we followed that logic. The bigger the tattoo, the more painful it will be. As a result of the long process, the body becomes exhausted, loses energy, and becomes more sensitive.
Tattoos on areas of your body with thin skin, especially those directly over a bone or near it, can cause higher levels of pain. Even people who have had tattoos in the past are affected by this.
The tattoo needle can penetrate the multitude of nerve endings and bones through thinner skin, which is a normal occurrence. I'm hurting. If you want a painless tattoo, avoid getting one on your head, ribs, chest, elbows, knees, inner thighs, or feet. I think you get the idea.
Tattoo artists play a crucial role in pain management when it comes to tattoo pain. It's probably not a problem if you've chosen to work with an experienced professional.
Tattoo artists who are experienced and skilled know how to tattoo without causing pain. By not pushing the needle too deeply into the skin, they don't technically mess up the tattooing process (by recognizing when clients need breaks). Tattoo artists who are inexperienced are more likely to make mistakes during the process, and such mistakes often result in severe pain.
The last thing we will discuss is how your personal health and preparation for the tattoo appointment can affect the level of pain during the procedure. Due to overall sensitivity and a compromised immune system, people who have recently experienced illness or who are currently ill are more likely to experience higher pain levels. Before getting a tattoo, it is essential to get your health back on track so that the tattoo will hurt less and heal more quickly.
Being healthy does not mean showing up to your tattoo appointment under the influence of drugs and alcohol, smoking before the appointment, or being sleepy or tired. It's not a good idea to go to your tattoo appointment after a night of partying.
In addition to making the tattoo hurt more, drugs, alcohol, and nicotine will also make you bleed excessively, which can affect the tattoo's visibility and the tattoo artist's work. As well as making you more prone to tattoo infection, these substances prevent proper tattoo healing.
2. What Can I Do to Deal with the Pain? Painkillers?
Taking an Ibuprofen before a tattoo appointment may seem intuitive and allow you to go through the process with minimal pain and discomfort. That sounds great, doesn't it? Things may not be as jolly as they seem, so read on for an explanation!
Your skin is poked thousands of times per minute with a super sharp Tattoo Needle when you get tattooed. A poke normally results in irritation and bleeding of your skin. A tattoo artist usually wipes the blood off with ease whenever it appears, as bleeding is a normal phenomenon. During the tattooing process, the blood clots and bleeding lessens.
When taking painkillers before a tattoo appointment, you risk thinning your blood. Therefore, there will be a significant amount of blood when you start bleeding during the tattoo process. The tattoo artist will have a difficult time managing the blood as well as the tattoo through it. This minimizes the visibility of the tattoo and the skin. Exactly why? As a result, painkillers prevent the natural process of blood clotting.
It is important to note that this isn't always the case, especially with smaller tattoos. Clients who take painkillers should expect this to happen. If the client is bleeding excessively, the tattoo process can become quite complicated. In these cases, complications are expected since bleeding cannot be stopped easily and blood loss can occur.
It is therefore important to inform the tattoo artist if you have taken any medications prior to the appointment, whether pain relievers or antibiotics. Be sure to mention whether you have been drinking, taking drugs, or smoking before getting a tattoo. The tattoo artist may refuse to provide the service in this case, but for your own good.
Here are some ways to deal with tattoo pain without causing a bloody mess since painkillers aren't an option:
Pick less sensitive body parts – pick body parts with thicker skin and that are not close to bones (forearm, upper back, out/front thigh, front and rear shoulder, outer upper arm).
Reschedule if you’re sick – illness makes you more sensitive to pain, so try to reschedule the appointment until you are 100% healthy.
Eat nourishing foods and drink plenty of water – this may seem obvious, but many people fail to follow it. A strong, resilient body requires proper nutrition and hydration, especially before a tattoo appointment.
Avoid substance abuse – specifically, drugs, alcohol, and smoking, since all three can increase pain sensitivity, dehydrate you, and cause infections from tattoos.
Get enough sleep – it goes without saying that getting enough sleep helps you deal with pain more effectively.
Go for an experienced and skilled tattoo artist – in any case, choosing a professional tattoo artist minimizes the health risks.
Consider numbing creams – Many tattoo artists do not offer numbing creams as a pain management option, but some do. You will be able to deal with the pain much easier if the cream is applied at least half an hour before the tattooing process begins.
When you're aware of your level of pain tolerance or pain sensitivity, being concerned about the pain associated with tattooing is completely normal. Being poked with a needle for hours can really make people cancel their tattoo appointments and never get inked again.
It is possible to minimize the pain and truly enjoy the tattoo experience by choosing the right tattoo placement, preparing your mind and body for the experience, and choosing the right tattoo artist. I hope we were able to take away some of your fear and provide you with some tips and tricks that will help you. If you decide to get a tattoo, we wish you the best of luck, and hope you enjoy the experience!