Talk to me about tattoos (the experience)

posted 3 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 2
1104 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

delovely13:  I have three tattoos. First I got a star on my hip (very small), then a star on my foot (small), and last a medium-sized to large word on my back (below my neck, above my shoulder blades).

Honestly, they didn’t hurt *that* bad. I think what saved me was that since they were small they happened so quick. Even the one on my back was relatively quick. If I did a huge tattoo, I think that would be a different story. It wasn’t pleasant though either. It felt like someone digging a ballpoint pen on your skin. All three felt about the same with maybe my hip hurting slightly more, but that one was over 10 years ago so at this point I have a hard time remembering. Either way, they were all pretty quick!

I would say my best piece of advice is to do research to find a good tattoo artist (who is both good at what he or she does and is comforting if you’re in pain). My first experience my cousin who is a tattoo artist did it for me so it was great. The other two were different places I chose by recommendation. Ask friends or family in your area of who is good to go to (and who to avoid!). Skilled tattoo artists are better, quicker, with better results and better experience, usually. 

Again, it really wasn’t that bad but I can take pain pretty well. I think I’d rather get a tattoo than a piercing, a brazillian wax, etc. 

Post # 3
6788 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - A castle!

It really just depends on how big you get it and how long your session is – and location. If you get it in a location where you don’t have a lot of fat/muscle and your skin is stretched tightly then it’s going to hurt more. If you get a big one and your session is 4 hours, then yeah, it’s definitely going to hurt. I have 3 HUGE tattoos and one small one. I got all 3 huge ones before my small one. My first tattoo I sat for a little over 4 hours. At first it kind of stings, but then your endorphins kick in and it almost can tickle at times. But when you hit the 3 hour mark, then your skin is just sore and yeah, it starts to suck. Actually once when I was getting an area over my spine tattooed I felt this horrible burning DEEP in the pit of my stomach – a place I had never felt before in my life. It was a very strange sensation that I won’t ever forget. 

Anyways, moral of the story is that it’s not that bad. Women are equipped to give childbirth, a little tattoo is nothing.

Post # 4
184 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

delovely13:  I have 11 tattoos. Three on one forearm, two on the other. One down each side of my ribcage, three more on my back, and one large piece across my chest. I can easily tell you that the chest piece hurt far worse than any of the other ones. The ribs weren’t nearly as bad as people make them out to be. The arms and back pieces were a cake walk. 

It feels like a cat scratching you and it burns a little. After awhile, the area will go numb and you stop feeling it as much. The best thing you can do is breathe!

Through all of mine, it’s never been unbearable. Even with three sessions on the chest piece, I yelled and swore a little, but I didn’t cry or anything and it was alright. 

I see it this way. The pain is so short lived! It only hurts while it’s being done which is what, a few hours at most? And then you have something important to you to keep for the rest of your life. 

You can do it! It’s really not as bad as you are making it in your head, I promise. 

Post # 5
8388 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

I have one tattoo, and I’m a big wuss, so mine hurt like hell.  I would love to get more, but I’m too scared to lol.

Post # 6
1362 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2014 - Turf Valley

I have one, and it is on my side/ribs.  It hurt.  To me, it felt like being continuously sliced with a razor.  Ouch!  I was told the side/ribs is one of the most painful places.  I don’t know – that’s the only one I have, so nothing to compare it to.

It was tolerable, but I was ready for it to be over!  I remember that my legs were shaking during/after it for about an hour.  Not from fear but I guess just from the pain of it all.

Post # 7
213 posts
Helper bee

I have 8 tattoos. 7 of mine are small (wrists, back, feet). I have a big tattoo on my foot that took an hour and a half. that one hurt the worst, but that is bc it is the biggest and on a painful spot. 


honestly just go for it! my first tattoo was on my foot and took 10 minutes. I decided to do it on a whim and am so happy I did. 



Post # 8
864 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2015

delovely13:  I have 2 tattoos, one on my ribs (black cursive–my own handwriting actually) and one on my back (the sound wave of Mr. H and I saying I love you, also in just black).


The one on my ribs was my first, and it definitely hurt worse than my back. The guy that did it was one of those “super cool guys” that I too was afraid would laugh at me if I was a titty baby. BUT the thing is, you get into it and your adrenaline gets pumping so that helps with the pain. Even though I could tell he’d get frustrated sometimes with me (I would gasp or cringe), it was very obvious that it wasn’t because I was being a wuss, it was because he wanted his work and MY TATTOO to come out beautifully. It did hurt, almost like someone scraping hot needles or a knife over my skin; some spots (like in between actual ribs) were worse than others.

The second tattoo, which is on my back and goes vertically from the bottom of my left shoulder down to the bottom of my waist in almost a straight line (it’s a sound wave) hurt so much less than the one on my ribs. That one felt like a rough scratching sensation, and like I said that wasn’t bad AT ALL.

For both, the feeling when they healed was the same: it felt like a sunburn. Not the cute sunburns that give you 3 new freckles and a little red nose. No, like a legit, “Dammit WHY did I not wear sunscreen!?” sunburn. I’m a ginger though, so I’m used to that and therefore found that easier to deal with than the actual tattoo process, haha.

Just make sure you talk to your artist about what you want, if you need a break, etc. If you’re seeing a great artist, they’ll do their best to make you comfortable while you’re in the chair. Make sure you follow their aftercare instructions to the letter! Don’t scratch or pick at your tattoo while it heals…and if you’re like me on the first one: do not freak out thinking your tattoo is coming off when it starts peeling. It’s apparently supposed to do that, and shouldn’t give you a meltdown.

Bring someone with you to the shop, and make a day of it! I promise it’s not that bad–if it were such torture, no one would have tattoos. 🙂

Post # 9
992 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

delovely13:  I have two tattoos, one on the inside of my ankle prob about 1 1/2 and all black and the other high up on the ouside of my calf about three inches color and black outline.

I apparently do not handel pain very well. The actual pain itself really wasn’t so bad but my body hated it. Both took less than 20 minutes and both the tattoo artists kept telling me to breath and my friend with me said I was ghost white minutes after each stared. To give you a reference point I get the same exact way when I attempt to give blood and scare the crap out of the person taking my blood.

Everyone is different, you won’t know how you will feel until you go for it! Best of luck 🙂

Post # 10
1029 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2015

delovely13:  I have forty-two tattoos. My first tatt was placed on my lower back, manyyyyy years ago. I think the fact of people telling me how painful a back tattoo would be actually made it more painful than it was. It stings at first, but your endorphins kick in really quickly and then it’s just annoying hearing the buzzing of the tool. Oh, take two non-asprin pain med about 30 mins beforehand. 

Post # 13
2627 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

I have 2. A Celtic knot work circle on my back, between my shoulderblades and the word ‘beauty’ on my inner forearm. 

It was never unbearable. And it’s not so much ‘painful’ pain as it is ‘shocking’ pain. If you have ever had your bare arm hit with oil spatter when frying something, or used an epilator, it’s that kind of pain. That’s what I have compared it to for friends who were going into their tattoo appointments and they agreed that it was similar. 

My back wasn’t bad except for the top of the circle, where it was much ‘sharper’ feeling because there was less tissue over the bone. 

My inner arm was a very odd feeling in comparison, because the skin wasn’t stretched as tight as my back so it was more of a dragging sensation. 

It ended up being a little off center, but I’ve decided that it represents life, in that it’s both imperfect and beautiful. (Bonus points for my only pic of it being my super vain ‘look at my muscles’ pic! Haha)

Post # 11
1043 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

I have 2. One covering most of the top of my foot, and one on the back of my neck. The one on the back of my neck has undergine 9 laser removal session over the last 18 months… Its finally ALMOST gone! the tatto didnt hurt as much, cost as much or take as long as the removal… So choose carefully :p 

the one on my foot hurt like a mofo. He never fully finished the colouring because i was so jumpy and anxious when he was doing it. Im still hoping one day i can go back and get it finished. 

In general id describe the pain like a constant, annoying scratching. Its certainly not sharp or localised like a needle or knife cut. Its certainly tolerable. 

There are topical anesthetics out there you can put on before hand like emla If youre super nervous about the pain.


Post # 12
331 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2014 - Excalibur

I have 5 tattoos. Lower back, ribs, hip, shoulder, and ankle. The only one that hurt was my ankle. That felt like cat scratching and burning sensation. All the rest I could feel something but they didn’t hurt one bit. My hip actually just continually tickled and that was horrible! I am sooo ticklish! I would prefer it hurt! Everyone bodies are different. You won’t know until you get one. Your design is small, so it won’t takemore than 45 min. If you need a break, don’t worry. Go for it, girl!

Post # 14
1287 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

delovely13:  I have A tattoo, of which I got (with my sisters, whom have multiples each) to comemmorate our Mother whom passed away.  We got it on her birthday, and it is incredibly special.  I was the gal whom always proclaimed I WOULD NEVER get a tattoo, for fear of pain, needles, permanence, what have you.  But, this was just too important to NOT get done, so off we went.

We went to a really reputable tattoo shop, one that my sisters have been at before, and many others.  My sister designed it, so we went in with a picture, and they constructed it from there for the ‘stencil’ they needed.  I was back and forth on placement.  I did not want it seen, and yet I did.  I did not want it to hurt, and yet, knew it would no matter what.  My older sister had decided inside of her wrist, and my younger between shoulder bones.  

Ultimately, I decided on my left arm (shoulder/tricep area).  No clue why I ultimately chose there, because it was not a place I had discussed before, but once I sat down that is the area I was drawn too.  It is fairly large, so he told me it may hurt, and that I needed to tell him to stop if I needed a break or needed to move.  The good news is that it only required two colors.  He told me the shading would hurt most.  

He began the outline, first letting me feel a little bit the ‘pain’ it would cause.  He started, I wenched, and I quickly realized that it was not BAD/AWFUl pain, but a thrilling pain.  An incessant bee sting that once he was a little bit on his way, you became used too, etc.  It did not bother me, in the least, and I actually enjoyed it (sounds odd, right?!).  He warned me the shading would be more painful, but at that point, my arm was numb, and/or I was used to it, so no issues there.  It was done and over with in 45-minutes, and I was really proud of myself, and LOVED the artwork.  The healing process, albeit not bad, was probably more annoying because you have to keep it clean!!

My disclaimer is that I say with my other sisters while they got theirs done.  The inside of the wrist did not seem too bad for my older sister, but in between my sisters should bones was VERY painful for her.  She is very bony though.   Since the arm area is more ‘fattening’ there is not bone they really touch, thus making it easier.  Of the three my younger sister has, one on her foot, one on her lower back, and this one, she said this one was the MOST painful.  She winced a lot, but again, got thru it a-ok!!

Hope this helps.   You should do it…it is empowering 🙂

Post # 15
160 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

delovely13:  I have 3 tats. The first was on my shoulder blade. It wasn’t bad at all. Some spots bothered me more than others. The more you tattoo over bone, the more it hurts (in my experience). The others are on the top of my foot and my ribcage. My ribcage was the worst! But the guy I went to actually had some numbing cream he could put on it and it helped ALOT. And by the way, I’m not a wimp when it comes to pain. So don’t get it on your ribcage if you’re worried about the pain.

All 3 came from different artists. I only had one that was kind of snotty about me and what I was getting. I think he thought mine was too simple for him- he’s pretty famous in my area for fantastic artwork. I haven’t been back to him.

Bring a friend! They expect it. I’ve always brought someone with me.

The time REALLY depends on how big you want it, the design itself, the level of detail, and the artist. You’ll have to choose a shop and an artist to get an answer to that one.

Tips: Bring a stress ball, or someone you want to hold hands with. Having something to do with my hands always helped me. This is going to sound weird, but bear with me- conciously accept the pain. Otherwise you’ll tense up and that’s bad. I mentally go, “Okay, this hurts, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.” And just tune it out or imagine absorbing the pain.

One artist described it best, IMO- It feels like a vibrating catscratch.

Here’s a pic of one of mine. It’s still red because it had just been finished.

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