How to Deal With Tattoo Pain?
When it comes to getting inked, the old motto “no pain, no gain” is unfortunately rather accurate. All tattoos hurt at least a little. However, by going into your appointment with the right knowledge and using a few simple pain-fighting tricks, most tattoo pain can be quite manageable. You may be surprised how easy it is to survive your tattoo!
Calm yourself. It’s hard to relax right before the tattoo artist starts drawing, but if you can, your experience will be easier. Try taking a few deep breaths, talking to your friend or family member, or even chatting with the tattoo artist. These things will help you relax and quit focusing on what’s about to happen.
Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Depending on the size and detail level of your tattoo, you may be in the parlor for up to a few hours. While you’ll get breaks to get up and move around, a little bit of preparation can make your appointment much more comfortable. Here are a just a few things you may want to consider:
Have a meal before your appointment. Have a glass or two of water to avoid dehydration.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing you won’t mind sitting in for a long time.
Bring anything you’ll need to entertain yourself during your appointment (music player, reading material, etc.)
Go to the bathroom before your appointment starts.
Squeeze or chew something to relieve pain. Tensing your muscles by squeezing something in your hand or biting down on something can actually reduce pain significantly. In fact, it’s a technique that’s use to reduce pain for women during labor — and it works quite well. Many tattoo parlors will have something for you to use, but if yours doesn’t, consider bringing one of the following:
Towel, wooden spoon, etc.
Don’t bite down if there’s nothing soft in your mouth. Simply gritting your teeth can cause dental damage.
Exhale during especially painful periods. Even something as simple as controlling your breathing can make getting a tattoo more bearable. Try to exhale when you feel the worst pain. You can do this either by breathing out or by making a gentle noise (like a low hum). Exhaling during stress or exertion makes it easier to “power through” the pain. This is why most fitness resources will recommend exhalation on the “up” phase of a weightlifting exercise.
Move as little as possible. It can be tempting to squirm during particularly painful stretches of your tattoo appointment. Try your best not to. The less you move, the more precise the artist can be and the quicker your appointment will go. After all, it’s harder for an artist to draw on a canvas that won’t sit still.
Don’t be afraid to take breaks. Almost every tattoo artist will tell you this before she starts, but it bears repeating: you should ask your artist to take a break if the pain ever becomes too much. Most don’t mind, and would prefer not to make your experience an unnecessarily painful one. Don’t hesitate to take a two minute break and then go back to your tattoo.
Don’t dull the pain by getting drunk. While it can be tempting to show up to your tattoo appointment inebriated (especially if you’re treating it as a social event), this is a very bad idea. Most reputable tattoo parlors won’t agree to do work on someone who is obviously drunk. This is for good reason — drunk customers have a tendency to be louder, more unruly, and make tattoo decisions that they regret later.
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