If you have any sort of visible tattoos there’s a good chance you’ve been asked a very pedestrian question by someone lacking any body art – “Hey, did that hurt?” You have two options in this case, act tough and say, “Nah, I didn’t feel a thing,” or be honest and reply, “I got stabbed thousands of times, right in my stupid, tender flesh, of course it hurt!” Today, we’re taking a brief look at the pain associated with getting a tattoo.
Pain, like most every other aspect of the human experience, is highly subjective. A tattoo that causes one person to writhe in agony can be no big deal to another person. But the fact of the matter is this – assuming your nervous system is on the up and up, every tattoo hurts. But some of them hurt way worse than others.
Get a few people with tattoos in a room together and chances are some of them had painful experiences with areas of the body that caused others no problem. You can’t accurately predict how much a tattoo will hurt, you can only buy the ticket and take the ride. But it’s definitely in your best interest to make sure you’re well-rested and hydrated before heading off to your tattoo appointment. And for the love of god, don’t go hungover.
We’ve included a few charts of the human body that can be seen as guidelines as to the level of pain you’re likely to experience while getting various areas of your anatomy tattooed. But again, the discomfort you will feel during a tattoo is highly subjective. Many factors play into how badly, or how little, a tattoo hurts. Getting a tattoo right on top of a bone? It’s probably going to suck. In comparison, a fat fleshy part of an appendage can feel like a light tickling – relatively.
Thinking about a chest piece? Check out this guide that touches on what you’ll experience. Considering going for your ribs? We’ve got you covered there too.
Our best advice is to try your best to be somewhat Zen about the pain. It’s part of the process, an inherent aspect of the ritual. Do your best to go to your happy place and remind yourself that this is all temporary. You can and will get through it. That’s not to say that it’s not alright to tap out for a break when you need it. The human body can only be pushed so far, and it is your duty to be communicative with your artist if you need to chill for a minute.
At the end of the day, we’re all different. Some of us can handle intense pain with poise and grace, while others might straight up pass out. Your personal reaction to pain is really no benchmark of your character, and I assure you every tattoo artist has a story about making the toughest looking dude on the block cry like a baby.