Getting your first tattoo can be a very exciting experience and being prepared for what to expect can keep it fun. First, you should be well rested and well fed. If you are tired, or your blood sugar is low, you may experience a higher level of discomfort than you normally would. Drinking alcohol before getting tattooed is always a bad idea. Not only do you become dehydrated, it will also cause you to bleed more and consequently have a negative effect on your new tattoo.
There will be blood. The amount varies from person to person, but usually it is about what you would expect from a scraped knee or rug burn. The level of pain also varies from person to person, but most people don’t find it unbearable. The best thing to do is just accept the discomfort and relax. Fighting or tensing will only increase your discomfort.
If you start to feel faint or a little ”green,” tell your artist right away instead of toughing it out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break. Your artist is prepared for this sort of thing and knows how to handle it.
If you need to change position or stretch, go to the bathroom, sneeze or wiggle for any reason, let your artist know BEFORE you do it.
Your new tattoo will get a patch of shiny skin over it or it may scab over. Leave the scab alone!~ This is a normal part of the healing process. Picking the scab may lead to infection or damage to your tattoo. The scab will slough off gradually in the course of a week or two. If you have any questions during the healing process, call your artist. Don’t rely on stories told to you by your friends.
All equipment should be single service. This means that each needle and tube set is individually packaged, dated and sealed and autoclaved. The artist should open a fresh set of needles and tubes in front of you. Any ointments, pigments, needles, gloves, razors, plastic trays or containers used in applying your new tattoo are discarded after use. After the tattoo application, the artist will disinfect the work area with an EPA approved virucidal that will kill any surface bacteria or viruses.
You shouldn’t get a tattoo if you’re drunk or high (and most tattoo shops have a policy in place about this; they’ll refuse to tattoo anyone who appears to be drunk or high or as a sign in one shop says, “just plain stupid”). The other reason for not getting a tattoo is if you’re not sure. Wait until you do feel sure or just don’t get one. This is not a good thing to feel ambiguous about. There are no specific medical considerations, but use your common sense. If you’re sick, wait till you get better.
If you go to a professional tattoo shop where the proper tattoo equipment is used, getting a tattoo is very safe. Decades ago there was concern about getting hepatitis C from tattoos, but this is something all professionals are very conscious of nowadays. If new needles are used for each and every customer, there is no chance of contracting a blood-borne disease. Most tattoo artists will be glad to set your mind at rest by showing you the unopened package of needles they will be using before the tattooing begins. After your tattoo is finished, they should dispose of the needles. Ask about safety policies such as these before you select a tattoo shop.
Getting a tattoo when your immune system isn’t at 100% isn’t a good idea. You’re going to need your strength and your white blood cells to heal your tattoo, something your body won’t be able to do if it’s already doing battle against virus and bacteria. Not to mention the fact that it’s very inconsiderate to bring your illness into the tattoo studio and risk passing the germs onto others, particularly your artist. If you have an appointment, call and reschedule for when you’re feeling well again.
Pain is really relative. Everyone has a different tolerance to pain. I’m not going to kid you, though – it does hurt. Just not that much. Some have compared it to a ”hot scratching feeling”. But, people would not be returning again and again for tattoo after tattoo if it hurt that bad! Most of us are not into pain, but the beauty of the tattoo and the pride associated with wearing it far outweighs a little pin-stick here and there.