Many people like to refer that getting a tattoo feels like someone is scratching a hot needle across your skin or others like to compare it to a constant feeling of a cat scratch. After about 15 minutes, your adrenaline will start kicking in and help manage some of the pain, but if you’re getting a larger piece done, the pain can come in waves.
The answers vary, depending on the size of the tattoo and where on your body it is (smaller tattoos on fleshier parts of your body will hurt the least). This also varies person to person. Tattoos on your wrist or forearm tend to be pretty easy places to start with. Although everyone experiences pain differently, you can expect for the tattoo pain to be worse on your ribs, feet, ankles, neck, backs of your knees, or insides of your elbows. Really, anywhere that has a high level of nerve endings and not a lot of fat will hurt more.
Pain is the price you pay for getting a tattoo. As tempting as a numbing agent sounds, tattoo artists don’t recommend them because they affect the capillaries and therefore make it harder to deposit the ink. This also makes healing the tattoo a challenge. In general, treat the night before a tattoo like you would before a big exam: Get a good night’s sleep, eat a full breakfast, stay hydrated, and don’t show up hungover or drunk. All of these things could ultimately affect how you handle pain, even if it’s not a particularly sensitive area of the body.
After two weeks, your tattoo should be completely healed if you’ve properly taken care of it, as per the artists instructions, and, other than that, left it alone. If a portion of your design didn’t heal correctly or if you have some fading down the road and want to get it touched up, pay your artist a visit.