“How bad does a tattoo hurt?”
As with most things in life, there are no cookie-cutter answers. Everyone is unique, and what might be unbearable pain for one individual might be nothing for another. Still, it is a valid question when you’re considering a tattoo. Everyone knows that a tattoo will likely come with some discomfort, but researching how much discomfort you are likely to experience is still valuable.
At Lamar Street Tattoo Club, we often compare the sensation of a tattoo artist’s gun to being scratched by a cat. It’s not a pleasant experience typically, but it’s not an insurmountable amount of pain. However, the intensity of that “cat scratch” can vary depending on where that tattoo is located.
It’s important to have a rough estimate, which is why we compiled our thoughts on how much a tattoo hurts. Please note that this is just a rough estimate. The only person who really knows your pain tolerance is you, so keep your own experience of pain in mind when reading about how much certain tattoos hurt.
Read on to Learn About How Much a Tattoo Hurts
Tattoo Pain Consideration 1: Location
You don’t need to be a tattoo aficionado to know that where you decide to put that ink will play a role in determining the pain level. To illustrate this, imagine what it would feel like to be hit by a baseball or softball in the leg. (Some of you might not need to imagine!) This likely wouldn’t be a pleasant experience, but it probably wouldn’t be intolerable. Now, imagine taking that same blow to a boney section of your body, like your wrist or ribs. That is likely to be a much more sensitive area.
As previously mentioned, this will vary from person to person. However, typically, the more muscle or fat a body part has, the less painful it will be. Think of a quadricep or bicep, for instance. Areas of the body that don’t have many nerve endings will also be pretty manageable for most people. For instance, the back of the shoulder or a pec is likely to be a comparatively mild tattoo.
Now, imagine a tattoo on an area of the body with either low fat and muscle or a high cluster of nerve endings. Behind the ear, on the face, or on the buttocks, for example. Boney areas also can experience a “scraping sensation” on the bone in question, which some find grating. Rib and wrist tattoos can be particularly difficult.
Remember, everyone is different. We’ve seen people cringe at bicep tattoos, and we’ve seen others handle wrist tattoos without so much as a grimace. Everyone is different, and your unique physiology is probably the most pertinent piece of this.
Tattoo Pain Consideration 2: Size
The size of a tattoo does not necessarily always equal more pain. For instance, a large tattoo on your shoulder will likely hurt a lot less than a small tattoo on your ribs. However, the more of your body that is exposed to the artist’s tattoo gun, the more pain you will likely be under, so larger tattoos will likely hurt more. We’d advise you to just expect that and possibly be pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t hurt.
Remember that a large tattoo will cost more due to the higher ink requirement and the artist’s time. These large tattoos also will likely require multiple sessions with the tattoo artist. This isn’t to dissuade you, but it is worth remembering when planning. You are your own person and can make your own choices, but some people like to start small for a first tattoo. Again, it is completely your call how large your tattoo will be, but it is a good idea to think about these details before you begin the process.
Tattoo Pain Consideration 3: Duration
This one is typically related to size, but it is possible to have a smaller tattoo that requires a lot of detail and a lot of time. The duration of a tattoo session is a critical piece of understanding pain. What might have been uncomfortable but tolerable for a half-hour can become extremely distressing after two or three hours. Because of that fact, many tattoo artists will set maximum session durations. This helps alleviate pain and ensures that the tattoo artist can do their best work.
If you are a tattoo newbie, it might be worth starting small to decrease the amount of time you spend in the tattoo artist’s chair. This might not work for all subjects, but it’s a good rule of thumb. Now, it is also worth remembering our previous point about location. If you want a small tattoo, placing it on a smaller part of the body, like the wrist or behind the ear, might not be a good call. For a custom recommendation, ask one of our tattoo artists, and they can offer their thoughts. It is, of course, your body and ink, but we’re happy to be a consultant in the process.
Turn To The No 1. Dallas Tattoo Artist
Are you interested in planning your next tattoo? Turn to the best tattoo artist shop in Dallas. Lamar Street Tattoo Club is an award-winning, DFW-based tattoo shop. Planning a tattoo, whether it’s your first or your tenth, can be challenging. Trust your ink to the best tattoo artists in Dallas.
Tattoo artistry isn’t a commodity. It’s a craft. We will never offer quick, sloppy work. When we say we are the best tattoo artists in DFW, we mean that. Creating the best atmosphere possible in our shop lets us design and create the best tattoos in Dallas. In a world filled with cheap, sub-par tattoo offerings, trust your next piece of art to a tattoo shop that will never cut corners when it comes to design, expertise, and cleanliness.
All of our tattoo artists are vetted, talented professionals, and their work shows that. From planning to aftercare, we are here to ensure you get the most beautiful piece of art possible. Sitting in a tattoo artist’s chair can be a little uncomfortable and time-intensive, but our DFW tattoo artists have repeatedly proven that their work is worth the price.
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- Experts in Both Tattoos & Tattoo Removal
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