I am often asked how much getting tattoos hurts, or alternately describing the pain of a certain tattoo and have someone say that tattoos don’t hurt. If you think tattoos don’t hurt then you simply haven’t been tattooed on a dicey area yet. Some areas of the body are more painful then others and while your buddy might say that his superman tattoo on his bicep didn’t hurt, that same tattoo on his knee would have been almost unbearable.
I came across this handy tattoo pain chart yesterday and I must say it’s very accurate when I compare it with my own personal tattoo experience.
My Own Experience
I’m rather tattooed and have been tattooed on quite a few places extensively. Here’s a list of where I’ve been tattooed and how much I think it hurt.
Outer Arm - This is one of the least painful places to get a tattoo. Expect to feel some burning but it’s nothing you can’t grin and bear. If you can’t handle a tattoo on you’re outer arm, don’t try to get a tattoo somewhere else as it will surely be more painful.
Inner Arm – The inner arm isn’t the most pleasant area to have tattooed and it does hurt considerably more then the outer arm. I would say it burns considerably. If you are just going around the arm it seems to hurt much more then if you are getting the inner arm tattooed exclusively for a few hours.
Ribs – I’ve heard horror stories of the pain of rib tattoos but in my experience, it’s not so bad. Just like any dicey tattoo the longer you sit the more tolerant you are to the pain. Getting your ribs tattooed burns and occasionally you will hit a nerve, sending chills throughout your body, but is not unbearable.
Abdomen – Getting my abdomen tattooed was one of the most excruciating tattoo experiences I’ve endured. I have a large piece across my entire right love handle and I must say, It hurt like hell. For a time during the outlining process I had to be physically held down to the table by one person while my tattooist worked on the tattoo.
Upper Back – It’s been so long since I had my back tattooed I barely remember it. My very first tattoo was on my upper back. From what I can remember it wasn’t too bad. It certainly burned and when a nerve was hit all kinds of things would tingle from my arm to my legs.
Outer Thigh – The outer thigh is not a painful place to get tattooed. Many areas of my thigh didn’t hurt at all, although the closer to my ass cheeks we got the more it hurt. Second to the outer arm, this is least painful place I have been tattooed.
Inner Thigh – The inner thigh, much like the inner arm, hurts more then the outer thigh. The skin is more tender therefore it burns considerable more. Far from unbearable, but certainly not a comfortable spot to be tattooed.
Knee – I have only been tattooed as close as an inch to my knee. I can say that the closer the tattoo got to the kneecap the more it hurt. Eventually my tattooist was physically holding me down as the tattoo further approached the knee. This is one of the most painful areas I have ever been tattooed.
Armpit – As you can probably imagine getting your armpit tattooed hurts like hell. Not only does every stroke of the tattoo burn intensively, the wiping and stretching make the tattoo almost unbearable after a few hours. My last session was entirely my armpit and although I booked 7 hours of tattooing I threw in the towel after only 5 hours. There’s nothing fun about getting your armpit tattooed.
Finger – The webbing of my finger hurt pretty bad each time it was tattooed, the only saving grace is that there isn’t much room for a large tattoo so even though it hurts almost anyone should be able to take the 5-10 minutes it takes. The fingers aren’t the best place to get tattooed. It took me 4 separate sessions to get a single teardrop to stay in.