Social Question

augustlan's avatar

Why aren't painless tattoos available?

Asked by augustlan (47376points) October 17th, 2012

Seems like it would be pretty easy to do. A few shots of Novocain, or some numbing cream applied to the area before hand would make the procedure fairly painless. Maybe the tattoo artists couldn’t administer the drugs themselves, but I’m sure they could partner with a doctor or nurse, even if just once a week or something. “Come in Thursday night for painless tattoos!”

On the other hand, is being willing to go through the pain an integral part of the act of getting a tattoo? Like a badge of honor? Would people who opted for the painless version be seen as ‘less than’ by others?

This all occurred to me while thinking about tattooed wedding rings. That particular spot seems like it would be very painful!

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32 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The tat shop is not a Doctor so they can’t give you Novocaine or any DRUG before a tattoo. A doctor or dentist can give it before a medical procedure.

chyna's avatar

I do get a henna tat when I go to the beach. That’s as far as I will go to get a tattoo and they are painless, but also wash off in about 10 days.

Berserker's avatar

What, are you kidding? Tattoos are for badasses, it needs to be painful! XD

Well really, I denno. I have no experience with tattoos, although in some cases, I wouldn’t be surprised if the badass badge had something to do with it but…so many people have tattoos, so I hardly doubt that this a very important factor anymore, if it ever was.

Tattoos are expensive enough as it is, if those procedures you mentioned work, perhaps not everyone would want to pay for the extra it would require. Tattoos are supposed to be painful, but it might not be sheer hell, either. (depending where though, I guess) As well, maybe the procedure wouldn’t work on certain body parts without it having to be something akin to hospital procedure, which just wouldn’t cash in. I think @Tropical_Willie has a point though. Probably you need medical licenses or whatever for efficient treatments such as those. A doctor or nurse present for administration might be feasible, but we do need them elsewhere, for more useful and urgent work. :/

and anyways tattoos are for badasses lol

tinyfaery's avatar

They have a topical numbing ointment. And you know how I feel about part 2 of the question.

shrubbery's avatar

Maybe it would be dangerous, like well perhaps it wouldn’t matter so much if it was a really really good tattoo artist with heaps of experience but it’s not like they have to go through med school or anything and maybe if you had anaesthetic and you couldn’t tell the tattoo artist if it hurt too much then they might not realise if they were going too deep or causing too much trauma to your skin or something. Just a speculation!

Isn’t that why you’re not supposed to be drunk when you get one?

FutureMemory's avatar

Eh, they don’t hurt. Thirty seconds into my first tattoo I said to the guy “when does the pain start?”. True story.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t buy it. I feel pretty sure that if people really wanted it, tattoo artists would find a way to make it painless. I don’t think there’s sufficient demand for pain-free ink.

poofandmook's avatar

My fiance’s cousin is an artist… we talked about this a great deal while she was doing some coverup on my back.

There is a numbing creme that is commonly prescribed by facilities doing laser removal. That’s all well and good for removal, and you CAN technically use it during a tattoo also, but the creme softens the skin a great deal, and so when you tattoo over it, it does much more damage to the tissue. That causes more pain during healing, and could cause the tattoo to not be as bright/colored/dark whatever… saturated I suppose… and even could result in cruddy lines and such.

poofandmook's avatar

You can’t make a needle constantly puncturing live tissue non-painful. It’s not possible. Even with the numbing creme, you can still feel pain… it just dulls it, and only temporarily.

poofandmook's avatar

Also, any drug that isn’t topical will result in increased bleeding, which is extremely difficult for a tattoo artist to work through, not to mention if it’s a long, involved tattoo, the person could actually pass out, depending on how much of a bleeder they are naturally.

shrubbery's avatar

@poofandmook that’s probably what I was thinking of. I knew there was some accepted reason! I remember when I had my wisdom teeth out, I was really paranoid about the cannula in my hand so the lovely nurse put heaps and heaps of the numbing cream on for me and then when it came time for the anaesthetist to put it in she was annoyed that the cream had softened everything, I think that was more that my veins weren’t sticking out enough but same sort of thing. Also yes I remember being told about the bleeding by my tattoo artist now too.

augustlan's avatar

@poofandmook Ah, that makes sense.

DigitalBlue's avatar

I wouldn’t judge someone who opted for a numbing agent before getting a tattoo. Yes, I have tattoos.

Pandora's avatar

Here you go. And the good thing is if you get bored you can change it. LOL
No pain.

amujinx's avatar

@shrubbery You aren’t supposed to be drunk when getting a tattoo because alcohol thins your blood and you will bleed profusely.

Honestly, for the two tattoos I have, the biggest problem I had was sitting still for prolonged periods of time. When done in the right places tattoos really don’t hurt much. I could see wanting a numbing agent of some sort if getting a tattoo in some areas though (tattooing over the sternum must hurt like hell).

filmfann's avatar

My daughter is a body piercer, and works in a tattoo shop. She has said that the store policy is NOT to tattoo anyone who comes in drunk. They will, however, allow a sober person to come in, pick a design, then leave to get drunk before going through it.

jerv's avatar

My answer is that pain is a natural biofeedback mechanism. In addition to the bleeding factor mentioned above, there is the issue that numbing for a tatoo is roughly analogous to pulling the battery out of your smoke detectors to avoid being woken up by the noise; it leaves you unprotected. Considering the issues that can arise if the artist goes too deep with the needle, you really need to know ASA-fucking-P if that happens.

That is my answer; my wife, a lady who has sat in the chair getting inked for 6 hours at a stretch as they shade her back-piece, and whose pain tolerance exceeds the endurance of the artist’s drawing arm, has the following to say about this:

“Tattoos aren’t supposed to be easy to get, so the pain _is part of the experience. It’s a rite of passage. So why aren’t there painless tattoos? Fuck you, that’s why!“_

Judi's avatar

I hate to admit this, but I tried to do the permanent lipstick. I paid to get my lips numbed by a doctor before I had it done.
Unfortunately for some reason it didn’t take. I had a total of 4 applications.
I don’t know if the novocain had anything to do with why it didn’t work, but it was a miserable process.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Tattoos really dont hurt that bad…. The itching is honestly the worst part of it.

jerv's avatar

@Judi There are certain parts of the body that even many inked people won’t get inked because they are so sensitive, and look on those that manage to get inked there as a mark of being hardcore/ballsy. The lips are one of those places; many nerves compared to, say, the bicep.

Judi's avatar

I did the first 2 times with Novocain and the second two without. It hurt like an SOB and still didn’t take! @jerv, does that make me ballsy?

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

Problem with henna tatts is they can be particularly hazardous. Last summer some poor kid ended up with a burned in tribal dragon. Now if you want to go all burned in, instead of getting a tatt, get branded (which to me is just the dumbest idea ever – but I understand that it is something that does happen). Still, I don’t think that kid’s gonna forget his summer as a tourist here. Since then, the council has banned henna tattoo stands – of which there used to be at least two or three during the summer – no more though.
As for painless tattoos, heck I’d go for that. I’d also go for painless tattoo removal as well. I recall watching Dragon’s Den, and someone came in with some kind of cream that removed tattoos painlessly, but they didn’t buy into that idea – despite being shown evidence of it working, which is a shame.

Seek's avatar

@filmfann Same here. In fact, several artist friends of mine have a special liquor cabinet for close acquaintences. Ready to start? Okay, shot of Patron and here we go!

Seek's avatar

@jerv I’m just a little in love with your wife.

ragingloli's avatar

But there are! Just get one of those stickers that you have to make wet and then press on your skin.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

I hope not to come across as rude in the asking, if I do, I apologize in advance.
Oh and before I get there @ragingloli, I was gonna say that but you beat me to it. GA for you.

I notice the comments about alcohol and getting drunk before a tattoo is done. Surely that would lead to more difficulty in controlling the mess that ensues from getting prodded by hundreds of tiny needles. The whole point of not consuming alcohol prior to getting a tattoo is not entirely based on the regret that may follow from getting the tattoo in the first place (even if choosing the design prior to getting drunk perhaps), but also the increase of blood loss due to the thinning that alcohol causes – though it may be minimal, it would still be a mess to work with. So I have to ask…where’s the sense in that?

Seek's avatar

I’m not saying these people get annihilated… it’s like the old-school swig of whiskey before the dentist/surgeon/barber pulls your tooth. Take the edge off a little. Keep you from squirming too much.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr…ah right, gotcha. Dunno about that old school swig though. My Dad has his arms covered in tattoos and my Mom tells me that he used to do that but still managed to blackout on some of them – ha….soldier too, who’d have thunk it!

downtide's avatar

I have two tattoos and I didn’t think they were that painful. Yes, it was like someone rubbing my arm hard with coarse sandpaper for half an hour, but in comparison with other pains I’ve experienced it was pretty mild.

I know more than one person for whom the pain is the best part about getting a tattoo.

Coloma's avatar

I’m with @downtide

I have two too, one on my ankle and one on my hip and while slightly irritating I did not find them to be very painful at all. Mostly I just had a hard time staying still because I don’t sit still well for long periods. I also have a pretty high pain threshold and am always telling my massage therapist to pound the hell out of me, no light touch massage, get in there and WORK those kinks out. lol

Ponderer983's avatar

I’m with @downtide as well. I have one on my foot, and a lot of people always ask me if it hurt a lot because of where it is. Not really, just like sandpaper like you said. At the time I compared it to a prolonged cat scratch. And I believe I’ve said this before in previous tat q’s, but IMO a bikini wax hurts more, though is much quicker.
There has to be something with piercing the skin and not numbing it, because wouldn’t we also numb ears before they get pierced? That doesn’t happen either!

augustlan's avatar

@Ponderer983 Ear piercing is so quick, I guess we can live with a second of pain.

I’d like to get a tattoo someday, and don’t think I’d need the numbing (I have a high tolerance for pain). Just the thought of getting the base of a ring finger tattooed made me squirm, though. Maybe my fingers are just particularly sensitive, but I’ve pinched that area with rings many times, and it hurt like a bitch!

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