How Do I Behave Before Getting a Tattoo?

As I've explained in previous articles, a tattoo is a – medically – simple procedure, and if you're getting it done by a professional tattoo artist – does not pose any health risk. None the less, there is a psychological aspect. A lot of you are probably nervous or stressed out before getting tattooed, which might cause side effects such as dizziness or nausea. These side effects are caused in most cases solely due to emotional stress you were under before getting tattooed, and not because of physical pain. Sometimes it happens simply because you found out it doesn't hurt as much as you expected! Sounds strange? The explanation is simple: when you are scared or nervous, your blood pressure rises. After the first line of the tattoo, when you find out it doesn't hurt as much as you thought it would, the blood pressure drops back down. Sometimes it drops at once, a phenomenon called "blood-pressure drop", and the brain's blood supply slows down a little. Then, you might experience dizziness or nausea.

Of course, a professional tattoo artist will know how to deal with such side effects and will easily resolve them, and worst case, the dizziness will become a blackout lasting a few seconds, and the nausea will make you throw up. Don't worry about it, rest for a little bit, drink something, and it's like nothing ever happened.

Yet, there are ways to prevent these side effects in advance. First of all, you should stay as calm as you can during the tattoo process. A good night's sleep the night before – could help tremendously. Have a nutritional breakfast on the day of the tattoo, and drink a lot. Preferably something sweet, that will raise your blood sugar level. If you do those things, you'll have much more energy to go through the tattoo process more easily, and even if it hurts a little – you'll be able to have more fun dealing with the pain.

Also try working on the fear issue. Convince yourselves that it's just a simple process, and that you're going to go through it easily, just like everyone else. Perform a few breathing exercises and meditations before and during the tattoo process. It works, believe me.

If you're on any kind of medication, or suffer from various illnesses – tell the tattoo artist in advance. In extreme cases, such as with epileptics, it's advised to get tattooed only after consulting with a physician.

In any case, don't drink alcohol, not even a little, and don't use drugs of any kind, a few days before getting tattooed. As I've explained in the article "Does it hurt?", these substances will cause problems during the tattoo process, and will not help in any way relieving the pain.

Alcohol and certain drugs cause blood dilution and expand blood vessels, these cause stronger bleeding. In addition, those substances cause reflexes and involuntary muscle reactions, which will interfere with the tattoo process. And in any case, the tattoo artist needs to communicate with you during the process, which won't be so easy, if you're drunk or high.

In the few weeks before the tattoo you should avoid prolonged exposure to the sunlight unprotected, so you don’t get sunburned, leaving the skin sensitive or peeling the day of the tattoo.

Figure out where you want the tattoo to be on your body and try dressing accordingly in an outfit that will allow easy access to that area.

It's recommended not bringing chaperones with you. They might get in the way and interfere more than help, and during the tattoo process you might find their presence stressing you out even more. If you don't feel like coming by yourselves – bring one chaperon with you. It really is enough. Not to mention that most tattoo artists won't even allow one chaperon to come into the rooms with you, let alone a group of chaperons. So they might get bored outside, make noise, and bother both you and the tattoo artist.

If you didn't pick out your tattoo from the samples in the studio but from a different source, don't forget to bring the sample in a high quality. If it's taken from a book, a magazine etc – try bringing it with you, and if it’s taken from the internet, find out if the studio has a computer, and if so, bring it on a CD or a USB stick, or send it to yourself by email and then open it at the studio. Of course, a tattoo artist will be able to use even a bad print out and improve it, but if "sticking to the source" is important to you – it's preferable that the source is in high quality.

It’s greatly recommended to set an appointment in advance. A good artist would usually be busy, especially on holidays and weekends. If you’d like to make sure you’re in his schedule, without waiting too long – call him in advance. It’s important to point out, that even if you’ve made an appointment and arrived on time, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get in the second you step into the studio. If the tattoo of the costumer before you takes longer than expected – the artist won’t throw them out and get to you. Come when you are not stressed for time and don’t nag the artist. You wouldn’t be happy if someone else nagged him while he’s tattooing you…