Nothing is off limits when it comes to where on the body to get a tattoo, and we mean…nothing. That being said, there are certainly many things to consider, especially if this is your first foray into the world of body ink. Having parlors populated by artists that have indeed tattooed on every imaginable inch of the human epidermis, we’re more than qualified and happy to provide you with some insight into this important decision.
5 Things to Consider When it Comes to Tattoo Placement
1. Pain Threshold
In the same manner that people have a spot on their body that’s more ticklish than it is for others, pain threshold varies too. Overtime, you will have identified yours, and if you have a low tolerance for pain in a certain area, this will certainly factor into the consideration.
Zones that typically have higher pain receptors include the inner wrists (a flex point), armpits (home to the axillary nerve), inner elbow (ulnar nerve and the median nerve), ribs, fingers, the back of the knee (sciatic nerve), kneecaps, hands, ankles and feet, shins, shoulder blades, spine, and the neck. In addition to the prevalence of sensitive nerves and nerve endings, some of these areas are often more painful due to the fact that there is little skin, muscle, and fat to provide a buffer between needle and your tendons, ligaments, and bones. While many people want to get a tattoo along the ribcage, take note that this zone is especially painful for most, given that as you breathe the ribcage expands and contracts throughout the process. We could also name genitalia here, but do we really need to?
While it seems that we’ve crossed off a lot for those of you with a low threshold for pain, you still have many options. Least painful (for most) places to get a tattoo include the outer shoulders, buttocks, calves, outer arms, and thighs.
2. Career Prospects (for some)
Thankfully the past perceptions about people with highly visible and significant (in size) tattoos are antiquated ones. Tattoos are more mainstream than ever and this won’t change as more and more people have become open to wearing their heart on their sleeve, sleeve tattoos included.
However, some professions still frown upon exposed body ink, and given that you need to earn a living, you may need to consider this. A neck tattoo cancels out many job prospects, but in some cases a “harmless” (whatever that means) tattoo on the upper arm or calf can catch a cutting eye from clients or a CEO when schmoozing out on the golf course or tennis court between meetings. Some places of business have very clear rules about visible tattoos, so be sure to read the T&Cs for your place of work and ink accordingly. Or quit, and find a career that doesn’t come with snap judgements.
3. Potential for Surgery
Not to get all negative, but this is indeed a consideration, especially for those of you with a penchant for action sports and other daring escapades that can land you in the ER in need to surgery to repair a broken bone, or torn ligament and muscle. For example, studies show that one of the most common injuries for skateboarders is a distal radius fracture, with 16 percent of cases requiring operative intervention. That equates an instant scar along the wrist, one that potentially runs up the interior forearm. If you’re tattooed in this area, some pretty great art may be ruined. Whatever it is that you may do that puts your body at increased risk of injury, take note of where a surgical scar may run. Of course, if you have already sustained an injury resulting in remnants of stitches long gone, a tattoo may be what you need to cover up that battle scar.
4. Future Body Changes
There are a few factors to consider in this category. For one, women who plan to have children after getting a tattoo may rethink ink along the lower abdomen, upper thighs, buttocks, and breasts. This is because the subsequent stretch marks (aka tearing dermis) may absolutely affect the integrity of your tattoo, and in some cases, ink may be absorbed by the body during a tear. However, by no means does that mean you should forgo the opportunity to take advantage of the canvas, as a skilled tattoo artist can retouch and repair the faded/impacted ink once the stretch marks have faded. The latter opportunity is why you need to do all that you can to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy via frequent hydration, by eating a nutrient-rich diet with plenty of antioxidants, and by applying topical treatments when dermis tears begin to rear their head.
On the flip side, someone struggling with obesity that has plans to take action and lose weight will want to consider how their skin will respond (sag) in certain areas. In this extreme case, you should get tattooed in an area that is less susceptible to sagging, or simply wait until you’ve approached your physician prescribed goal weight.
5. Wherever You Damn Well Please
In the end, it comes down to what you want. A tattoo is an expression of who you are, and if you want others to see it, get inked in a place that allows you to show you off. If you’re someone who prides themselves in wearing unique fashion and accessories then go ahead and be daring by wearing a tattoo in a more exposed area (upper arm, lower leg, etc.). On the other side of the coin, if it’s a highly personal piece of work, and you are a private person, a tattoo on areas typically hidden by clothing (beach days excluded) may make more sense. Heck, even if pain is a concern, ponder whether or not you can put up with a few hours of discomfort to enjoy a work of art that resides on a preferred part of your body for a lifetime. It’s your body, tattoo where you want to.
Adrenaline Studios prides itself in offering the public a welcoming, patient, and professional environment to get inked in. If you’re still unsure about where on your body to get a tattoo, schedule a consultation with one of our artists and speak with them about your wishes and concerns alike. Our considerate artists are more than happy to take the time and help you decide upon your best option. Whether you live within or are visiting Greater Vancouver or the Greater Toronto area, contact a tattoo shop near you and take the next step.