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Getting a Tattoo? Here Are 7 Things You Must Know

Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 16, 2022

    Getting a Tattoo? Here Are 7 Things You Must Know

    A tattoo is not just body art, it’s also a form of expression. So, if you’re interested in having one, it’s not surprising. But before heading over to the shop, some preparations are in order. What do you need to know before getting a tattoo? Find out here. 

    1. Getting a tattoo involves breaking the skin

    This fact is obvious, but many people fail to realize the potential impacts of breaking the skin. 

    Remember that your skin is one of the most important defense systems of the body. Breaking it means you become more vulnerable to blood-borne diseases (like hepatitis B and AIDS) and skin infections. Moreover, a tattoo may lead to:

    2. Yes, the procedure involves pain

    Most first-timers wonder: Does getting a tattoo hurt? Experts say, yes, it does. How painful it is, however, depends on your pain tolerance.

    The good news is that you may choose to get a tattoo on “meatier” areas, like the thigh and biceps, to reduce the pain. 

    Besides pain, keep in mind that you may feel other sensations, such as scratching and burning. 

    3. Despite laser removal, tattoos are still considered permanent

    If you’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo, chances are, you also heard about laser tattoo removal. The idea that you can remove a supposedly permanent mark on the skin may further motivate you, but experts still ask people to think long and hard before deciding on a tattoo. 

    For one, laser tattoo removal means added expenses and possibly, pain. Secondly, some inks are more stubborn than others. 

    Case in point: black ink on fair skin may be easier to remove than other darker inks on sun-kissed complexions. Hence, you might need several sessions before you see results. 

    And even with multiple sessions, some ink may not be completely removed. 

    4. You need to be meticulous in choosing the shop and the artist

    Considering the potential complications of getting a tattoo, you MUST choose the shop and artist carefully. Here are the non-negotiable criteria to look for:

    • The shop and staff should be extremely clean. 
    • There should be an autoclave machine. Also, make sure that they use it to sterilize their items. 
    • Needles must be new in an individual, sealed package opened right in front of you. 
    • Gloves must be new. 
    • Inks must come from single-use cups or bottles. The staff or artist must not get it from a larger container. Certainly, they must not return unused ink. 
    • There should be separate areas for tattooing and piercing. 

    5. Getting a tattoo? Yes, there is downtime 

    Thinking of getting a tattoo? Then be prepared to do the aftercare for it for several weeks. 

    Before leaving the shop, be sure to ask for instructions on how to care for your new tattoo. Typically, care involves:

    • Removing bandages
    • Cleansing the skin
    • Applying the necessary ointments
    • Protecting it from the sun and other elements (swimming is not allowed until the skin heals fully)
    • Checking out for warning signs that something is wrong

    6. You need physical and mental preparation when getting a tattoo

    On the day of the procedure, please be physically and mentally prepared. Get a full night’s sleep the night before, eat balanced, nutritious foods, and bring some snacks, particularly for larger designs. 

    7. Touch-ups may be necessary

    Finally, keep in mind that you may need touch-ups, especially if the skin is regularly exposed to sunlight or water. Areas with fast skin turnover (such as the hands) may need touch-ups as well. 

    Many artists will offer touch-ups for free or at a discounted price. Don’t hesitate to talk to them about it. 

    Important Reminder

    Getting a tattoo may not be a complicated procedure for others. But if you have existing conditions, such as diabetes, hemophilia, skin diseases, and hepatitis, or are under certain medications, please check in with your doctor first before getting inked. 

    Learn more about Skin Health here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 16, 2022

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