Getting a tattoo can be a bit unpleasant. Sometimes even a bit painful.

The sensation while getting a tattoo is affected by a number of factors:

Type of tattoo: Most people sense the lines more than the fill-ins. The thickness of the lines also effects the sensation, and the thinner the line is – the more you’ll feel it, because of the fact that it penetrates deeper into the skin. The sensation is similar to getting scratched.

Filling-in the tattoo with full color will be sensed more than shading, for two reasons; firstly, full coloring covers a larger area of the skin than shading. And secondly, the full coloring penetrates deeper into the skin. The sensation while filling-in the tattoo is similar to a chafe or an annoying itch.

Duration of the tattoo:  Most people can bear several hours of the tattoo process with no difficulty. After a while, the skin becomes sensitive due to the increased blood flow to the area. If you’re getting a small tattoo – you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you’re getting a large or complex tattoo, that is going to take a while – the tattoo artist will probably divide it into two sessions or more. Even if you can suffer in silence, your skin won’t always agree, and this might make it very hard for the tattoo artist to get the job done.

Placement of the tattoo: Different locations on the body are considered more sensitive than others. Nerve rich areas like the groin, armpit, nipple etc – are the most sensitive.

Then you’ve got areas located over bones that aren’t (or are slightly) padded with muscle tissue or fat, such as fingers, ribs, bridge of the leg etc. The rest of the areas are considered to be not painful.

Your body structure: Extremely thin people, as well as extremely muscular people – will suffer the most, since most of their body isn’t padded with fat that would absorb the sensation.

Your mental condition: Try to be as calm as you can during the tattoo. Because when you’re stressed out or frightened – many times, you’ll feel the pain more noticeably. Sometimes, people imagine feeling a pain that isn’t even there, simply because they expect it! Many times, when I didn’t even touch the client with the needle, they started to cry out “ouch!!”… If you had a good breakfast on the day you get tattooed, and you had a good night’s sleep the night before – the sensation will be easier to bear.

By the way, from my experience, women in their period do not handle the experience so well. Maybe it’s the raging hormones, or maybe they’re simply not so calm, and maybe both…

To summarize: Different people handle the tattoo experience differently. Each one – and his own pain-threshold (and maybe this is the place to point out that the saying that women have a higher pain-threshold than the men – is true…).

There are, of course, gentler tattoo artists as there are less gentle ones, but only if you happen to fall on a particularly sadistic one – you have good reason to fear the pain. It really isn’t so terrible; I’m sure every one of you has experienced much greater pain in your life. If you tattoo an organ that is not especially sensitive – you will have fun going through the whole tattoo process. But even if you’re not, just distract yourself. Don’t try to fight the pain, just accept it. After all, a tattoo is a kind of injury – not a massage… I might be able to set your mind at ease when I tell you that in all my years as a tattoo artist, no one has ever run out in the middle…

About anesthesia of all sorts
Don’t dare thinking for one minute about killing or relieving the pain by drinking alcohol or the use of drugs before getting tattooed! First of all, no professional tattoo artist would agree to tattoo you when you’re drunk or high. Even a small dose of certain drugs (Marijuana among them), or of alcohol, will cause changes in your body’s reactions and will interfere with the tattoo process, and secondly, it simply won’t help you! Most times, you’ll achieve the exact opposite result, and instead of relieving the pain – you’ll enhance it!

Don’t use pain reducing substances such “Emla” etc.!! These might be great for certain things, but for the pain that most tattoos inflict – they can’t help at all. On the contrary, in most cases they’ll make the skin become more sensitive, make it harder for it to accept the tattoo color, and force the tattoo artist to repeatedly go over lines and fill-ins that could have been finished by the first touch… and again, you’ve achieved the opposite result! In addition, the substance might penetrate into your blood stream and reach your heart or your brain. I’m even scared to think what that might do…

The only way of totally avoiding the pain and suffering with no side effects – is an anesthetic with a shot. But that’s something only a doctor can perform, and you’re not going to hire one for something you can easily go though without, are you?

So c’mon, they all went through it before, and so can you.

You have to suffer a little for beauty, but the pain will go away after a short while – the tattoo will stay forever!