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Have a tattoo? Tell me what it feels like!

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Anybody out there have a tattoo? I'd love to hear how that needle feels on the skin. Thanks!
#1 - February 17, 2012, 06:56 PM
Twitter: @MelissaKoosmann

Sarah C. Pilon
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I have one on my wrist. It has writing along with a rose and a butterfly. The pain didn't faze me too much, but I've been told I have a high threshold. It felt like someone was digging into the first layer of skin and basically scraping. My sister recently just got a tattoo on her wrist though and she said it felt like a knife carving her. So clearly how it feels is very different from person to person.

The worst was right in the middle of the wrist. Some people also find that writing is difficult to endure because to maintain the fluidity, the artist can't stop the needle.

During recovery it felt uncomfortable, but nothing unbearable. The whole tattoo was raised off the skin and scabbed, so I was tempted to scratch at it, but I refrained. Oh, and as it healed more, it got itchy.

Are you thinking of getting a tattoo or just doing research?
#2 - February 17, 2012, 08:28 PM

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I have one covering the side of my lower leg, from below the knee to almost my ankle bone. The real pain was closer to the tender area under the knee and closer to my shin bone. He used two types of instruments, one for the outlining and one for the shading. The outlining was a bit more painful and felt like a knife or something sharp against me, but not actually cutting. To me, the shading didn't hurt as much but became annoying when it hit the ticklish area because I hate the feeling. I agree it felt a bit like scraping. Mine took two hours, so it probably didn't help that I don't like to sit still for a long time. He offered me a break, but I also wanted to get it over with!  :laugh

Here it is:
http://pamvickers.tumblr.com/post/9384004447/my-tattoo
#3 - February 17, 2012, 09:04 PM

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I have a couple; I would characterize it as feeling more or less like a cat or thorn scratching.
#4 - February 17, 2012, 09:09 PM
The Farwalker Trilogy
The Humming of Numbers
Reality Leak

www.jonisensel.com

Mine's tiny - about the size of a quarter on my ankle.
It didn't hurt that bad. Like a scrape on gravel or a severe sunburn.
#5 - February 18, 2012, 04:45 AM
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NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, 2014)
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Rhonda

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I have big ink--my full back is done, a piece on my stomach and two on my upper arms. It depends on the spot. Some didn't hurt at all and felt like a weird vibrating metal against my skin. Some were very painful, like knives slicing. And then the full range in between. The spots that hurt worst were near my sides, along the bottom of my back and certain places along my spine. Oh, and the entire stomach piece hurt. lol. The upper arms aren't that bad, though the closer to the inner arm, the more it hurst. When you get on top of the shoulders and close to your neck, it vibrates like CRAZY and actually tickles in a weird way. But they're pretty!!
#6 - February 18, 2012, 04:54 AM
« Last Edit: February 18, 2012, 04:56 AM by Rhonda »

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Okay, you guys are making me REALLY glad I never got a tattoo! LOL!  :reaction
#7 - February 18, 2012, 06:26 AM
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Mine was pretty painful. I wanted to stop in the middle, but that would have looked really lame. I would agree with the carving knife analogy!
#8 - February 18, 2012, 07:33 AM

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Thanks for the descriptions. That's more or less what I've heard from others, but it's interesting seeing all these experiences right next to each other. 

I haven't ruled out the idea of getting a tattoo someday, but for the moment I'm just doing writing research. My character is getting two tattoos on the undersides of her forearms. Unfortunately for her, she's not much for the pain tolerance.

#9 - February 18, 2012, 09:15 AM
Twitter: @MelissaKoosmann

I have a tattoo just above my left shoulder blade. It took about 3 hours to do, and the only part that was really uncomfortable was the "shaded" areas that the artist did at the end. It felt as though he was "dragging" the needle across my skin. Good thing he told fantastic jokes! Kept my mind of my shoulder!
#10 - February 18, 2012, 09:28 AM
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HANNAH & THE SALISH SEA (Ronsdale, 2013)
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I got one a couple of years ago (040509) on my wrist and, okay, I'm terrified of needles, but the tattoo hurt like (word censored)! I thought they only traced the area once, but the artist goes over it twice. The first time was barely tolerable (and I took an anti-anxiety pill before I went) and the second time was like fire. Like someone was drawing into my skin with a burning knife. I didn't cry or ask to stop, but I was biting my tongue pretty damn hard. It took about 5 minutes, I'd say.

I went with my best friend and had to stop in the closest bar for juice and a snack because I was seconds away from passing out, LOL. I would love to have another, but the pain was a lot for me. However, I don't regret mine for a second because it's so special to me. :)

Recovery was really easy and painless.

Here's a link to my tattoo pic: http://jessicaburkhart.blogspot.com/search?q=tattoo
#11 - February 18, 2012, 04:33 PM
« Last Edit: February 18, 2012, 04:35 PM by Jessica Burkhart »
www.JessicaBurkhartBlog.com
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I do not have a tattoo, I always figured I would have a severe allergic reaction to the ink.  I have a lot of skin allergies. 

However, both of my nieces are covered, literally covered with tattoos.  The youngest one has a high threshold of pain and I am not sure about the oldest.  I do know that my oldest niece was told never to get another tattoo (which she went ahead and had one finished) because it is causing severe auto-immune problems.  :skull
#12 - February 19, 2012, 04:08 PM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

http://www.lizstrawwrites.com/

I have seen Rhonda's tattoos (well, some of them), and she's right. They pretty and impressive.
I have two. They are on my the outside of my ankles. It felt like someone was taking the tip of a steak knife and scraping my skin. It hurt more when he was working on the boney area for me. It was uncomfortable, but not intolerable.

The weird thing was, that I got one tattoo and spent a whole year feeling lopsided. I swear I could feel the weight of it and felt it affected my gait. My wife thought I was insane. Finally, I decided to get another on the other ankle, and that feeling went away. Go figure.

The pain is temporary, and most people can endure it easily. But I always caution people when they talk about getting one. It IS permanent, and you really need to be sure that you want to walk around with this on your body the rest of your life.

keep writing,
dave r
#13 - February 19, 2012, 04:36 PM
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I don't have any, but my husband has a few on his biceps and his chest. According to him, it hurts plenty at first but after a while, it gets kind of numb, and the pain gets dull.
However, I was there when he got the one on his chest (our son's baby footprint. The others pre-dated me) and he looked pretty dang uncomfortable the whole time.
My sister in law has lots. Full sleeves, some on her feet and her back. She said the ones on her feet were the worst, but they "hurt every time". As in, it doesn't get easier the more you have done.
#14 - February 19, 2012, 07:33 PM

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When I got my tattoos it did not hurt.

Rhonda I know what pain you are talking about in the lower back. Ouch
#15 - February 20, 2012, 10:36 PM

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I've always wanted a tattoo, but the needle issue freaks me out.
#16 - February 21, 2012, 09:02 AM

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It's a really subjective experience. The placement & your pain tolerance both factor in. One general rule that helps is to think of it in context of amorous activities: the more you find affection appealing in any given spot, the more tattoos hurt there. As we're all individual to some degree on that topic, so too will our tattoo experiences vary.  Basically, that rule is that places where the skin is more sensitive (wrists, feet) are also more potentially uncomfortable; if you're ticklish, your tickle zones are less comfortable.   Rule 2 (according to my artists) was that most people are either bone or not-bone. It has to do with the vibrations, as thy explained.

(Including touch-ups I got for kicks, I've spent well over 30 hours getting work done--most of which is not seen unless I'm at the beach.) 

There's a pressure, vibrating, buzzing, & in some places either pain or serious bliss. To those who say "hate needles," this is NOTHING like that.  Needles pierce. Tattoo machines are only going into upper layers, not deep or into veins. I hate needles/blood draw/injections/ivs, and I adore tattoo sessions (& acupuncture).  That said, piercing (I have my lip & an industrial) is still fun, far more than needles and less tattooing. Piercing is longer heal, but short (albeit intense) rush during the session.  I've only does piercing for aesthetic reasons, whereas I've been tattooed sans ink for purely fun reasons.

The sensation varies depending on the size & configuration of needles too. Outlining is often harsher than shading.  In both cases, though, there is a pleasant endorphin kick after about 10 minutes. I think a lot of times people who only get small art dislike it more bc they are done before they reach the good zen place.

The sensation also varies depending on your physical condition. Be well rested. NO alcohol for a good week before getting art. If you're healthier, the trauma of it on your skin will be less difficult. (A tattooist friend swears diet matters too. He swears he can pick out the vegetarians and organic folks from those who ingest fast food because of the way their skin takes the ink.)

It also varies by your position. My first artist preferred to work with me reclining. My second liked me upright like there I was canvas on an easel. I prefer the recline as it enables more relaxation.   

In direct contrast to a few of the folks who replied, I loved the boney areas and would get my back done over if I could (esp lower back) just for fun.  OTOH, there was one area (above my hip bone stretching from the lower belly to further in where most swimsuits cover) that was very unpleasant, genuinely painful. That was the only spot that bled out the pigment too, so I had to have it re-done 3 times. 

Some practical tips: No booze. It makes you bleed more. Take an anti-inflammatory (like Aleve) for about 8 hrs before you go, this keeps the inflammation down.  Use a mild antibacterial soap & wash only with a gentle circular pattern for the two weeks after. This will lift the dead layer off without abrading it. Tattooist recommend a variety of point-session ointments. A mild antibiotic gel is not the ideal, but I use it for the first 24hrs. After that I switch to regular A&D ointment.  No amount of any of that will take away the itchy, but I take allergy pills before sessions & during healing.

#17 - February 21, 2012, 02:31 PM

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one thing I haven't seen anyone mention here, it depends on how close to bones the tat is. Mine is about the size of a golf ball on the back of my shoulder. Looks like this  :tracks:

Lots of flesh there, it hardly hurt at all. And I have a low tolerance to pain. The needle tickled, but was a bit uncomfortable with the shading. Under the forearm, I'm thinking would be about the same. I don't know anyone who has one there, I'm afraid. Cool research topic!
#18 - February 21, 2012, 02:52 PM
ICE DOGS, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
FALCON WILD, 2017, Charlesbridge
SLED DOG SCHOOL, 2017, HMH
SURVIVOR DIARIES, 2017, HMH
 
www.terrylynnjohnson.com

I got one a couple of years ago (040509) on my wrist and, okay, I'm terrified of needles, but the tattoo hurt like (word censored)! I thought they only traced the area once, but the artist goes over it twice. The first time was barely tolerable (and I took an anti-anxiety pill before I went) and the second time was like fire. Like someone was drawing into my skin with a burning knife. I didn't cry or ask to stop, but I was biting my tongue pretty damn hard. It took about 5 minutes, I'd say.

Apart from the actual tattoo and the stop at the juice bar, this was pretty much my experience. The whole time I was thinking–in agonized thought-screams–that I would never do this again. Which is fine, since I love my tattoo and don't want any others. (and Jessica, your tattoo is LOVELY. Oh my gosh, the font is just so pretty!)
#19 - February 21, 2012, 09:29 PM
I'm looking for a dare-to-be-great situation.

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