One of the main things that keep people indecisive when it comes to getting inked is the pain issue. It is well known that getting a tattoo isn’t the most pleasant experience. Having a tattoo needle puncture your skin up to 3000 times per minute over a course of an approximately hour-long tattoo session surely explains the source of the pain, partially.
Probably the main cause of increased pain and discomfort during tattooing stems from the very location of the inking process on the body. Some body parts hurt more than others thanks to the difference in skin thickness, nerve endings, bone proximity, etc.
So, if you’re looking to get a tattoo but you’re not sure which body part to choose, you’re in the right place. In the following paragraphs we’re going to take an in-depth look at thigh tattoos, whether they hurt, and if they do, then how exactly much. Thigh tattoos are getting increasingly popular, so it is only right to see whether they hurt less or more than the other tattoo locations.
Thigh Tattoos and Pain: Do Thigh Tattoos Hurt?
Tattoo Pain – Explained
Before we get into thigh tattoos specifically, it is important to understand why tattoos hurt in the first place.
Let’s be frank right away – people experience tattoo pain differently. What is painful to one person is a small discomfort sensation for the other. The way we perceive pain is different, but we can all agree that some things hurt, a lot, for everyone. But, bearing in mind that one’s pain tolerance differs from other people’s can help us understand why some people get head tattoos, and others don’t.
But, generally and scientifically speaking, some things are simply meant to hurt by simply observing the anatomy of the body and the way it responds to external impact, in this case, of tattooing.
Tattooing is done using a tattoo machine that pushes the tattoo needle into the skin at an approximate rate of up to 3000 times per minute. This allows the needle to penetrate the skin to reach the dermis layer where the needle creates a vacuum into which it places the tattoo ink.
All of this happens super quickly and the whole designated tattoo area needs to undergo the same process. In some cases, where clients want better and bolder pigmentation, the area can be repeatedly tattooed as well.
The pain during tattooing generally stems from the following factors;
- Location of the tattoo (some body parts hurt more than others)
- Thinness or thickness of the skin (skin on the ribs, for example, is super thin compared to buttocks skin)
- Amount of nerve endings in the tattooed area (thin skin generally means more nerve endings, and more pain)
- Bone proximity (the closer a bone is to the skin, the more painful the tattoo, i.e. tattoos on knees, elbows, ribs, etc.)
There is also the notion of your sex potentially dictating the way your body responds to pain. Studies have shown that biologically male people experience and cope with pain differently than those who are biologically female. Sure, all of the aforementioned factors that affect levels and severity of pain are studied and explored. But, even so, tattoo pain stories are still anecdotal and vary from one person to the other.
The general conclusion is that tattoos tend to hurt more if they’re done on thin skin, areas with more nerve endings, areas with low or no fat layers, as well as bony areas.
So, Do Thigh Tattoos Hurt?
Considering what we’ve learned about tattoos and pain in the previous paragraphs, it is safe to say that thigh tattoos aren’t up there with the most painful body areas to get inked.
Thighs are meaty and fleshy, without direct proximity to the bone or a lot of nerve endings. However, there are the front and the back (outer, inner, upper, lower, and back thigh areas, to be more specific) of the thigh which can react differently to the tattoo needle. The front part of the thigh is the fleshy, meaty part, where the muscles are dominant and the tattoo needle has little or no impact in terms of pain.
However, the back and the inner thigh area are much thinner and have a lot of nerve endings. The thin layer of skin is the only thing separating the tattoo needle from a significant number of nerve endings, which usually means the tattoo will hurt (are least more when compared to the outer thigh).
Moreover, the upper, outer thigh is also an area with a potential for tattoo placement. The upper thigh is where the largest muscle group in our body is placed. The quadriceps muscles in the thighs are surrounded by fat, which makes this area perfect for a minimally-painful tattoo. The skin here is also thicker, and because the body likes to store fat in the upper and out thighs, there is enough protection for the nerves and the bones, which contributes to a minimally painful tattoo.
The lower the placement of the tattoo is on the thigh the more pain you can expect. The lower thigh connects to the knee (muscles and nerves), where the nerves are less protected and the bone proximity is higher.
So, if you want to get a thigh tattoo, but don’t want to really deal with the whole pain ordeal (especially in case of lower pain tolerance), we definitely recommend you go for the upper, and outer thigh tattoos.
How Do I Manage Thigh Tattoo Pain?
Assuming you want to get a thigh tattoo and you want to avoid dealing with pain in general, we’ve prepared our best tips and tricks you can utilize to manage tattooing pain.
One of the first things you need to do when considering getting a tattoo is to find a tattoo artist who is willing to use a numbing cream for the tattooing process. Some tattoo artists offer numbing creams as a pain management option, while others require the clients to bring their own creams. The majority of tattoo artists do not utilize numbing creams, which is why you need to check whether they do or not before the actual tattoo appointment.
Another thing you can do is generally take care of your body and your well-being. Getting good sleep (regularly), eating healthy, hearty meals, and drinking enough water are more than enough to make you feel better, stronger, and more capable of handling pain. You can also boost your immune system with vitamin supplements, regular exercise, and overall good nutrition and hydration. All of this can help you deal with pain (not only tattoo pain, but the pain in general).
Avoid drinking and smoking for some time, before and after the tattoo. Drinking and smoking lower pain tolerance and affect the overall immune system quite negatively. Also, drinking can create some issues during the tattooing process; alcohol is known to dilute blood and make you more sensitive to discomfort and pain.
It also prolongs the healing process and can contribute to the painful aftermath of tattooing as well. Smoking also prolongs the healing process and prevents your body to be at its strongest, which it requires in order to handle and heal the tattoo.
Pain tattoo largely depends on where the tattoo is placed. The thigh area is perfect for those who want a cool, visible tattoo but don’t want to play with pain tolerance too much. Even so, different thigh areas respond differently to the tattoo needle. For a minimally painful tattoo, one should definitely go for an upper, out tattoo.
There is also the numbing cream option, which you can further explore with your local tattoo artist, as well as the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. Hopefully, this little insight into the world of thigh tattoos has helped you understand the relationship between tattoo placement and pain. We wish you all good luck and happy tattooing!