You’ve probably heard all the horror stories about the pain associated with tattoos. About people fainting, having to quit with a tattoo only partially done or going through dozens of small sessions to get through the process. Despite what you’ve heard, tattoos really aren’t as painful as you may have been led to believe. We’re going to walk you through what makes a tattoo hurt and how you can better manage the pain when getting your first, second or fiftieth tattoo.
What Makes a Tattoo Hurt?
There are a few factors that determine how much pain you’re going to feel while getting tattooed, but the most important factor is where the tattoo is located. Areas of the body with more nerve endings, which tend to be more sensitive to pain of any kind, are going to be the most painful to get tattooed. This includes most joint areas, such as the armpits and back of the knee, and of course genital regions.
The most surprisingly painful region is around the ribs. While it may seem relatively numb, the upper area of your mid-section is made up of soft tissue that is incredibly sensitive – hence people who are ticklish and why poking someone in the side is an especially effective way to get their attention.
The first picture in our gallery below, which is made up of particularly painful tattoo examples, is a pain chart that’ll show you the relative pain level of each body region. Beginners should definitely look to start with a region closer towards the yellow end of the spectrum, as the first time tends to be the most painful.
One of the best pieces of advice you can follow to limit the amount of pain you experience is to avoid alcohol and pain killers for a few days before getting a tattoo. Anything that thins your blood is going to make the entire process more difficult for everyone involved. For the most effective and expedient outcome, avoid blood-thinning items.
Why Some People Pass Out
Most people who pass out or start to feel faint while getting a tattoo do it to themselves in one of two ways.
The most common issue is that they have low blood sugar. When the tattoo process begins, your body produces adrenaline and endorphins in response to the tattooing process. To put it simply, the sudden surge of these chemicals mixed with low blood sugar from a lack of food can cause you to start feeling faint, nauseous, and you may even start experiencing a greying of your vision. Should any of these symptoms occur, tell your tattoo artist immediately so he/she can stop and let your get a bite to eat before continuing.
The other primary reason people faint is because they overreact and get knocked out by their own fear. Reading this article is already a great step towards avoiding such a situation, and the phenomenon is so uncommon that it’s usually not even a remote possibility for most people.
How to Manage the Pain
A lot of people like to hold on to something or someone while getting a tattoo, but that isn’t the best way to manage the pain. The best thing you can do is take your mind of the process by either watching TV, listening to music or reading a book. Most tattoo shops have televisions and/or radios playing at all times for just such a reason, so be sure to take advantage of them.
The first line is the worst. After the first line you’ll probably have no problem getting through the rest of the process. If tattoos were really as painful as some extremists would have you believe, they wouldn’t be rapidly growing in popularity. The truth is that getting a tattoo generally isn’t very painful for most people.
Keeping your mind off the pain is the best thing you can do, which makes now the best time for us to stop talking about it so you can do just that.
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