Ep. 39: Does it hurt? And everything else tattoo pain.

Everyone who has visible tattoos has heard "Does it hurt?" from both curious strangers and close friends and family alike. 
In fact we hear that question more than any other. As a tattoo artist I also get "where does it hurt the most?" just as often. 

In this episode of Ink Medicine I attempt to answer that question, as well as offer tips on how to make it hurt less than it could and offer you alternatives for how to think of tattoo pain instead of how most think of it... as pain. A mindset shift can improve the quality of your tattoo experience (and life) greatly. 

You can connect with me as well as see my tattoo art on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/micahriot/

my website is www.micahriot.com 
The podcast is hosted on Buzzsprout but truly lives in the heart of Micah's website at:

Transcript from the episode:

Speaker 1: 

Hello, my darlings, this is my friend, Micah Riot with another episode of ink medicine podcast. It is a Monday, the 28th of August, and today I'll be talking about where does it hurt the most? Each body has a pain map. If you were to create a drawing of a body and you color coded the different parts of the body to say where it would hurt most or least, of course there are some patterns, but it might differ a little bit from person to person. Overall and this is the simplest answer big muscles are going to hurt the least. That's going to be your upper arms. It's going to be your thighs on the outside, where you have less nerves, the inside of the upper arm and the inside of the thigh is going to hurt more because there's more nerves there. Nerves are really fine system in the body. Surgeons can't see them when they do surgery. A good way to tell where you have more nerve endings is to take a feather or something really light something with a really light touch of feather is a perfect thing and run it over parts of the body and see where you're going to feel it the most. So you're probably going to feel it on your belly. You're going to feel it on your inner thighs. You're going to feel it on your face, on your neck. That's where you have more nerve endings. Otherwise, there's not really a way to see where a tattoo is going to hurt the most until you're getting that area tattooed. Most everybody can handle the pain of a tattoo. Sometimes people tell me I would get a tattoo, but I'm scared of the pain and you've probably gone through many more painful things in your life. Sure, it's uncomfortable and you can call it pain, but you can also call it intense sensation. It's something Kinky Barbie and I discussed in one of the previous episodes. Tattooing can be thought of as intense sensation. You're choosing it, you're consenting to it. It's something you want, with a result that you want, and you can most definitely sit through it. I promise you most people can do it. You know all those people out there walking around covered in tattoos, having big pieces, full sleeves, back pieces. They're not all super special people with really high pain tolerances. They're just people and you're also a person and even though you're scared, I think you can do it scared. If you really want a tattoo, go for it. You'll be fine. Who knows, you might even find it quite pleasant. You know, once upon a time I was in my 20s, so that actually matters, because when you're younger, tattoos hurt less, it sucks. But it's true. You know, as you get older, all systems go downhill, including your pain tolerance. So I was in my 20s and I was getting a piece that goes around the hips and one of the pieces went down onto my butt cheek and as my tattoo artist was tattooing my butt cheek, I just felt like pleasure. I was like this is lovely, this is like getting a deep massage, like scratching a deep itch. I still remember the feeling and I just was like oh my god, can you stay there forever? Please keep going. And then it was over. But I remember that experience as being illustrative of how a tattoo can make you feel, and that's when I realized that pleasure and pain can happen within seconds of each other, all in the same session. Because, yes, that whole experience there was a lot of parts of it that were really painful as well, but not nearly as painful as when I was getting my body tattooed. You know, 10 years later, having also ribs, having also hips, what else can influence how painful a session is for you, besides the placement and besides your age, how well you are, how good you feel, how steady your blood sugar is. Did you eat before you come in? Did you eat a meal with fat and protein as well as carbs? Are you? Did you sleep well? Do you overall feel pretty good or are you on the verge of getting sick? Are you stressed out? Are you close to your period? That's gonna be a big one, like for a lot of us. Before we bleed, our bodies are more sensitive, our senses are heightened. If you are able to don't book your tattoo appointments right around the time you're gonna start bleeding. Probably the week after you bleed is gonna be your best bet If you are sensitive to hormones and maybe you're not, and that's fine too, but if you are, something to keep in mind, okay. So people love a list, and I'm about to give you a list of body parts, of an overall general map of a body, of things that hurt and things that don't. I'll just go from the feet up to the head. So feet hurt yes, very much. Feet hurt. Angles no, angles are fine. In my experience, ankles are just fine. Chin, the shin bone yes, the calf muscle middle is pretty fine. It's a little tickly, I would say kind of nervy, tickly, but not necessarily painful, until you get up to the knee. As you get close to the knee that hurts more. The back of the knee, one of the most painful places, the very back of the knee, like the pit of the knee, the front of the knee. Also, I would say one of the more painful places Going up the leg, the inner thigh yes, painful, the outer thigh fine for the most part, although I've also seen people have a hard time with the outer thigh and have a less of a hard time with the inner thigh. So everybody's different Going up. So the butt cheeks for me were great, for some people really painful. The very inner thighs. The crotch area is probably gonna be really painful because lots of nerve endings. The hip bones, I would say painful. The maps says medium. The belly, I think very painful For some people, fine For a lot of people, painful. That has a lot of nerve endings. The ribs kind of under the breast tissue area. If you have breast tissue is gonna be fairly painful. I would say one of the more painful areas. The nipples are painful. The breasts themselves are pretty painful and on people who don't have breasts also I would say the right around the nipple area is gonna be painful. The pecs fine. Pretty fine, I would say, although for some people painful. The arms, the hands, I think, are probably very painful. The palm of the hand, I assume, is really painful. On this map it says it's okay. I don't believe them. The wrists painful I've seen people fold in from pain from their inner wrist being tattooed. I've also seen people be totally fine. So again, no, there's no rule. The lower arms fine. Upper arms fine. The elbow pit painful. The inner arm pretty painful, not the most but fairly painful. The inner upper arm Going up the center of the front of the body, the between the boob area or between the pecs, the sternum, that's gonna be fairly painful, fairly fair amount of nerve endings there Up into the collar bones, yes, painful. The neck, the front of the neck especially gonna be very painful. The side of the neck better. The back of the neck, pretty okay. The face, I think is the face is very painful for most people, especially the lips, the nose, probably the outer sides of the face are much better. The skull itself. I've tattooed a couple of skulls. I would say the people I've tattooed on the skull seemed okay, seemed pretty fine. The ears also not very painful. For some reason the ears don't have that many tattoo nerve endings in them as far as I can tell, but they're pretty good, I think, sensually speaking. So yeah, ears pretty okay in my experience. The back, the backs of the arms are pretty okay, except the elbow not very fun the spine can be painful, but the rest of the back is okay, I think, for me at least, as you get lower, towards the kind of the area where your belt might sit on your pants not high waisted pants, low waisted pants, medium waisted pants For me that would be painful. On the map it looks like it's fine. In my experience I think it's pretty painful for a lot of people and that's it. That's all we got for the pain map that I am looking at. That somebody made for tattoo pain and my ratings of other not. I agree with that. I forgot the back of the thigh. That's one body part I forgot and that I think it's pretty painful in my experience of tattooing other people Painful. Do I have anything there? I do. I did have it done, though, by a friend who'd never tattooed before, so that probably made it a lot more painful than it would have been otherwise. Speaking of which, it's not always dependent on experience, but different tattoo artists are gonna have lighter or heavier hands. If they're more practiced in the more traditional style, the, where the lines of bolder, the shading is bolder, everything is a little bit heavier-handed. That's not necessarily always true, but in my experience, some more traditionally trained tattoo artists are gonna be more heavy-handed. Not necessarily a bad thing, like that. Shit's gonna be in there, it's gonna stay whatever, it's gonna be bold and bright. And then some people have a lighter hand not necessarily a good thing, for the tattoo could be too light, could fall out too thin, too delicate, etc. It's not a judgment on the good or bad, but some people are just more light-handed and some people are more heavy-handed. I've been tattooed by both kinds of people. I have beautiful tattoos from both heavy and light-handed people. So, yeah, don't take it the wrong way. We have now covered most of the does it hurts, where does it hurt the most? Everything about pain and tattoos, and the last thing I will say is what you can do to prevent the pain from being the most. Make sure you're good and healthy and well, make sure you've eaten beforehand if you are sensitive to hormones and most of us who bleed are make sure your appointment is not right around the time you're bleeding. Hopefully you also don't have a headache, you're not injured from working out or something else. A good thing to add here is make sure you're not healing from major surgery, so you know your body is a good base level from which you're gonna have this experience and heal from. So you setting yourself up well to experience these sensations of getting tattooed and then the sensations of healing the tattoo. I will sometimes take an Advol, like a couple hours before my session. For me that works, but I don't take a lot of pain killers and I don't have an issue with blood issues, so it can help take the edge. If you are otherwise healthy, choose a tattoo artist that isn't too heavy-handed. Communicate with your tattoo artist. We can tell when pain is normal and when pain seems to be overwhelming for the client. So hopefully your tattoo artist is somebody who's gonna listen to that, who's gonna stop, who's gonna check in, who's gonna work with you. And the thing I would warn you against is creams. So there's been this huge influx of light-ic and creams on the market that people have decided is a really great idea to take, because it takes the pain away and even though it can numb your skin and take the pain away, it can also cause a lot of issues To you. You can have allergic reaction to it. You can have allergic reaction to also to the ink, but you're not gonna know which one, because you have already put something really intense on your skin and then, besides allergic reactions, it's likely that your tattoo is just not gonna heal as well and the color is not gonna be as bright, because the skin, when it is numbed, becomes a lot less pliable and penetrable. Your skin is closed up, so it's not gonna wanna take the ink in as well as evenly and it's not gonna look as good and it's gonna be much harder for your tattoo artist to get the ink into your skin. So don't use them. In the end of it all, if you absolutely cannot take tattoo pain, maybe tattooing is not for you, right? Like there's experiences in life that are not for everybody. I think most people can take tattooing pain just fine, even if they need a little bit of hand holding, even if they need a little bit of talking through preparation, that is fine. But if you absolutely cannot handle tattoo pain and tattoo creams are the only way you can do it, maybe reconsider getting tattooed. There's many other ways to decorate yourself and express yourself. That's it, my darlings. Have a lovely day. This episode comes out on Wednesday 30th of August. You still have two more days to put in your review and rating of Ink Medicine podcast on Apple podcast. I will be pulling out winners at the end of the week. Each winner will receive either free tattoo time or a piece of jewelry made by me, custom for that person. Please rate and review. I'm doing a giveaway because it's really important to me to get this podcast in the ears of new people. I really like what we're doing here and I'm proud of this project. Thank you.