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FutureMemory's avatar

Tattoos: just how painful are they?

Asked by FutureMemory (24491points) June 14th, 2009

Has anyone ever walked out in the middle of getting some ink because it was just too painful? Does taking analgesics before hand help? What parts of your body were the least/most painful to get tattooed?

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25 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I have many tattoos – never used pain meds, what fun would that be? I have my entire back tattooed, I found the area where the kidneys are to be the most painful, and after 3 hours of tattooing in a session, the pain can start to bother you but generally I love it

Jeruba's avatar

I’m sure you’ll get some responses from people with first-hand knowledge. I’ll just say what a self-tattooed tattoo artist told me: “If you want the tattoo badly enough, it doesn’t hurt.”

[Edit] Simone’s finger beat mine to the Answer button. So there you are.

juwhite1's avatar

The answer depends on where you get the tattoo, how large the tatoo is, and the size/number of needles being used. If on bony areas, tattoos are more painful than on muscular areas. Obviously, any areas with a high concentration of nerve endings are also more painful than areas with low concentrations of nerve endings. It is not recommended to take acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen before a tattoo, as this thins your blood and increases the amount of bleeding that has to be wiped away in order to continue working. I have experience with getting tattoos, and have never used any pain killer, but I’ve also chosen an area that is not bony or highly sensitive. I’m sure taking a pain killer after the fact wouldn’t hurt anything.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

You’re going to get varied responses considering people have different levels of pain tolerance, too. That said, I got my tattoo on the left side of my lower abdomen – next to my hip – and I actually laughed through some of it because it tickled. Very specific areas on the tattoo hurt pretty badly, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t deal with. No tears, no holding breath, nothing like that.

Most of the places where I live do not allow you to take any kind of medicine such as those juwhite1 mentioned, for that exact reason. You also can’t get a tattoo here if you’ve been drinking because they want to be sure you’re in the right frame of mind and actually want a tattoo.

The place, size of the tattoo and how many colors are going to be used will all effect how painful it may or may not be, too.

icehky06's avatar

My brother has about 8 tattoo’s he said it depends on what part of your body you get them on. For example he got one across his ribs he said he shed a few little tears. Sorry if it doesn’t explain much.

fundevogel's avatar

I’ve never taken anything, from what I’ve read some painkillers are bad for tattooing because they make you bleed more and the topical ones require an awful lot of timing, and if its a long session when the wear off you body gets a very nasty shock.

tat by tat

shoulder blade – easy peasy, very manageable pain

wrist – not fun at all, if it were larger…it wouldn’t have been pretty

outer thighs – most of it was fine, but on the left it was pure agony is it got closer to the knee and towards the back of the leg, oddly enough that spot didn’t bother me on the right side, on the right it got bad when he went over the panty line, which was easy on the other side. So your nerves don’t necessarily mirror.

sandystrachan's avatar

Not painful , but it does depend where you get it .

chelseababyy's avatar

I have a tattoo from my hip wrapping up my ribs, to my shoulder. The tattoo artist kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to get my ribs, because he’s had people cry and break into hysterics from the pain.

For me, my shoulder blade hurt WAY more than my ribs, and my ribs barely hurt. It was more of an annoying prickly feeling.

I would never take pain meds before hand, that would ruin all the fun.

sandystrachan's avatar

You are warned to not take any alcohol or pills to take the pain away before getting tattoo done ,

rooeytoo's avatar

I was thinking about one on my shoulder blade (because it won’t sag out of shape if I get fat). Now fundevogel says easy peasy and chelseababyy says it hurt lots.

I am such a chicken, I will probably never work up the nerve.

rooeytoo's avatar

@fundevogel – That’s a good site, according to that the shoulder blade should not be too painful. Maybe, just maybe I will do it soon!

casheroo's avatar

I personally find it to be excrutiating pain. My first tattoo, on my lower back, I cried and yelled during it. Then I got my neck done, which was in a much less painful spot. Plus, it was a lot smaller, so it was a short amount of time.
As I got more tattoos, I knew what to expect more so I figured out how to cope with it. I just lay completely still, look away and close my eyes, and try not to think about it. It’s almost like meditation. So now getting tattoos can be soothing.

chelseababyy's avatar

@rooeytoo Shoulder blade hurt the worst for me. More than my ribs, back, and hips.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Back of my head was great, I could feel the buzz of the tattoo machine all the way down my spine to my toes. I was laughing thru the entire second half. Back of my hand hurt like the dickens. Upper arm, the initial shock was rough (it was my first tatttoo) but after awhile, the endorphins kicked in and it was fun. It was also fun watching the tatto take form (being created) while the artist worked on it. That is the best part of any tattoo, I think.

Really hot spots are the underside of your upper arm, ankles, top of foot, and anything where the bone is close to the surface. Your results may vary, it depends on your pain tolerance mostly.

knitfroggy's avatar

I have two tattoos on my chest and I wouldn’t describe it as pain, but just mildly annoying. I have one on each ankle. One is very large and it was more painful that the smaller one but not terrible. I also have one on my inner wrist and it was the most painful by far. I have a good pain tolerance and I thought I was going to pass out durng the wrist tattoo. I would go thru any amount of pain to get a tattoo, it’s always worth it.

fundevogel's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra I can never watch, at least not unless my artist’s hand blocks what’s actually happening. Needles make me queezy, though tattoo needles aren’t as creepy to me as hypodermics.

Ashalah's avatar

Honestly, anyone who says tattoos doesn’t hurt at all, are lieing. All tattoos hurt. Some hurt more than others. It is more annoying than anything. Some of the more painful spots are hands,feet,neck,ribs,face,sternum. Those are the most painful. Everywhere else is going to hurt but not nearly as bad. I work at a tattoo shop so I see alot of people daily. Alot of people whine and cry through it, but they make it through. I have seen some artists throw people out before the tattoo was done because they wouldnt sit still. Hope this helps!

sandystrachan's avatar

@Ashalah I have two and going for more . THEY DIDN’T HURT no . Am i telling lies ?
Everyone has a different pain threshold so one could say no pain another could say lots of pain . If you have lots of fat or muscle on the area you want to get done it shouldn’t hurt if you get it on a boney or nervey part its gonna hurt more for low threshold people .

Clair's avatar

They hurt. Period.
I have an armband that wasn’t too bad. The inside was a bitch.
...I thought I had experienced pain…
Then came my back…I have a gigantic oak tree that is a son-of-a-bitch! It’s still not complete because it was so painful. The left kidney absolutely killed me. Call me a wienie, but it will not be complete until I am numbed. But you also have to consider my back was done with a single needle. And my arm was done with a three flat..I think.

FutureMemory's avatar

Great range of replies guys, I appreciate it. Hopefully I’ll get my first one by the end of the year.

Ashalah's avatar

@sandystrachan I am heavily tattooed all over. I am sleeved, I have a chest piece, my legs are covered. I have a very HIGH pain tolerance, and yes all tattoos hurt, some more than others. Size is always a factor as well. How big are your tattoos? If they are a size of a quarter then more than likely they are done so fast they didnt have time to really hurt. Ask any heavily tattooed person if they hurt, they will say the same thing I did. Some places are more painful than others. But YES TATTOOS HURT! If they didnt what would be the point? No pain no gain right?

El_Cadejo's avatar

Its not the pain you should be concerned with. Its the itching afterwards. Pain i can deal with, but itchy just drives you fucking crazy. You want to itch it sooooooooo bad, but you know if you do your only going to ruin that tattoo you just got so you must refrain. Its like 3 days of itchy hell lol

jamcanfi74's avatar

They don’t require pain meds. They are a bit painful but it is only for a moment and unless you are getting a HUGE one, it will be over before you know it and you dont feel much afterwards. Sometimes it may hurt a tad, just sentive for a bit afterwards but it doesnt hurt unless you pick at the scabs if they do appear. Tats are really no biggie. I just got my 3rd a couple of days ago and already planning another so they aren’t bad but then again it depends on the person and the place the tat is going but if I can get them done I think anyone can.

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