Tattoo Pain and how to manage it in Bangkok
How much does it really hurt to have a tattoo, and is there anything I can do to reduce the pain?
Many people maintain that pain is all in the mind. Some of the old timers will say “No pain no gain”, yet on the other hand, many of you will have seen movies where tough, long-haired bikers or maybe crazed gothic killers have shown no emotion or feeling of pain when adding the latest tattoo to their body collection.
The simple truth is somewhere in the middle, and the amount of pain you will experience will vary greatly from person to person. It will depend on your individual pain threshold, whether you have prepared properly for “the big event”, and where on your body the tattoo is to be inked.
But how does tattoo pain compare with other pains? Here’s a rough guide:
Comparison of Pain thresholds
- Tattooing vs natural childbirth – Not in the same ballpark.
- Tattooing vs breaking a bone – Much less painful.
- Tattooing vs Getting shot – Much less painful
- Tattooing vs a bad cut – Less painful
- Tattooing vs waxing – Less painful
- Tattooing vs a cat scratch – Less painful
- Tattooing vs bee or wasp sting – Similar or less painful.
Even on body placement, there are no absolutely hard and fast rules. One person’s “meat” may be another person’s “poison.”
As already stated, everybody’s pain thresholds are different and what may be a mild tingling to you may feel like something much sharper to your friend.
The same applies to body placements. For example, if somebody is very ticklish on in a particular body area, or they have had a previous injury in the area to be tattooed, then inking there may be more of an ordeal.
The following is a very rough guide, which sets out the ‘low’ to ‘high’ pain zones of the body.
Low – Arms, thighs, bottom and calf.
Moderate – Centre back, front/side of thighs and shoulders.
Moderate to High – knees, elbows, hands, head, neck, feet, chest and back of thighs.
High – hips, ribcage, stomach, back of knees, armpit, inside of the elbow, nipples, lips, inside of thighs and genitals.
Similar to childbirth – Tattoos on the skin under the nails, after removing the nails – yes, it’s been done…
What are the main things I need to consider when determining the level of pain involved?
- Sensitivity to tickling, or to any kind of strange feelings when being touched.
- Any place where the skin folds over, or where the skin touches itself and is rarely exposed to air or touch.
- Any area that has had a previous injury, even a healed one.
- Any place that is often exposed to touch and friction, or has a lot of exposure to the sun.
- One color tattoos are less painful, mainly because they take less time.
- Areas of solid color will hurt more because the artist has to go over their work a number of times.
- Loose skin areas and any area where there is a lot of movement will be more painful than inking on a tight skin area, such as the thigh.
- In particular, loose skin areas on the shoulders and knees will take a long time to ink and a long time to heel and some of you may find tattooing these areas too painful.
- Anywhere there are a lot of nerve endings will be more painful to tattoo, such as hands, face, genitals, solar plexus, throat and nipples.
- The chest area on men can be much more sensitive to pain than a woman’s chest, yet due to the tighter skin on a male, the tattoo can be completed quicker.
- If you are female, you may be more sensitive to pain during the week prior to and during your menstrual cycle
- Areas with lots of muscle (arms, legs, upper pectorals) and areas with lots of fatty padding, (glutes, hips, etc.), tend to hurt the least.
- Sensitive areas, (breasts, underarms, face, groin), and “hard” areas close to bones, (scalp, face, collarbone, ribs, hands, feet), tend to hurt the most.
- Healing can be just as painful as inking your tattoo and you may have to curtail your regular activities for a few days.
Much depends on the kind of pain that you find hard to live with.
- If you are averse to a deep throbbing or any kind of pressure, then areas without bony structures, such as the stomach, sides below the ribs, side of the neck, inner arm and armpit and inner thigh are going to be more bothersome.
- If a stinging sensation really affects you, you should shy away from tattoos on your lower back, top of the shoulder, deltoid/front of the arm, tops of thighs, calves, and buttocks.
- If you don’t like a sharp feeling of a papercut or knife slices, you may dislike bony areas the most, such as ankles, hands/wrists, feet, collarbones, the center of chests, shoulder blades, and your spine near the center of your
Planning and carrying out your Tattoo Pain Management.
Learn where tattoos hurt the most and take this into account when choosing your body placements. Also, fully consider the tattoo size and type, and whether it will contain solid and/or multiple colors.
Make an appointment and talk through all the pain aspects with your tattoo artist. At ALL DAY Tattoo in Bangkok, we will advise you on pain management, and also discuss your personal pain thresholds and what tattoos will be best for you.
Be mentally prepared for your tattoo session. If you have done your homework and have talked it through with your artist and others who have had a tattoo, your anxieties will be much reduced. The more relaxed you are, the easier it will be.
In the days leading up to your tattoo session, keep healthy, eat plenty of nutritious meals, get adequate sleep and avoid any traumas to your body. A large balanced meal before your session will serve you well in terms of energy and pain tolerance.
Do not get drunk or drink excessive alcohol and do not take drugs. Alcohol is also a blood thinner.
During your session.
If you can undertake meditation before and during your session, this will help enormously with pain management. With a little practice, ‘Mind over matter’ really works, and it is quite easy to learn the proper breathing techniques. It is important that you always remain as calm as possible, so breathing and meditation is a great way to achieve this.
For your session, wear loose comfortable clothing as you will be sitting for a long while.
Make sure you go to the bathroom before starting your session.
Bring something to squeeze or chew on to relieve the pain, such as a stress ball, gum, soft candy or a towel.
Bring some entertainment with you such as music, a laptop, a tablet, a book or reading device, or just relax to the music we play.
During your session, breathe properly. Focus on one breath at a time and exhale deeply during the most painful moments. As the artist goes about their work, there will be plenty of opportunities to take a deep breath to relieve any built up tension.
Move as little as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for – and take – breaks when you feel you’ve had enough.
After your session, be careful not to touch your new tattoo and painstakingly follow the aftercare instructions given to you by your artist. You have an open wound on your body and it must be treated with loving care and attention.
ALL Day Tattoo in Bangkok
Come and visit us at our comfortable, well-equipped and ultra-hygienic studio in the heart of Bangkok and talk to us about your pain concerns. We will advise you on the best plan for you, as no two clients are the same.
All artists have a preference for what applications they use to help numb the pain. At ALL DAY Tattoo, we use a specially formulated “secret pain spray” that can be applied after the line work on a tattoo has been done to help reduce the pain.
Why not click on the button below for an absolutely no obligation, free consultation. We hope to hear from you soon.