Would you ever get a tattoo in one of these five most painful places?

Magzilla 2008/02/08 20:33:27
5. The rib cage
4. Behind the ear
3. The top of the foot or ankle
2. The mons pubis (not going to show a photo of this one)
1. The eyeball
1/2. I'll only get tattoos in non-painful locations
0. No tattoos for me!
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Five Painful Places to Get a Tattoo

Being pricked repeatedly with a needle hurts no matter where it's done, but some body spots are more sensitive than others.

By Temma Ehrenfeld | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Feb 7, 2008 | Updated: 8:45 p.m. ET Feb 7, 2008

Part of the experience of getting a tattoo is not knowing in advance how much it will hurt. For some it can be a terribly painful procedure. Others describe it as simply irritating, a "hot scratch" that is easily forgettable compared to the pleasure of wearing a work of art. If you want a tattoo but have a low threshold for pain, opt for fleshy spots like the thigh or bicep. The most painful places are generally the areas with a dense concentration of nerves or wherever the skin and bone are close together, without a layer of fat in between. Unless you go to a doctor for "permanent makeup" tattoos (like eyebrows) rather than a design, you won't get much help with the pain, says Charles Zwerling, a Goldsboro, N.C., eye doctor who specializes in permanent makeup (he uses local anesthesia). Only a doctor can give you a shot of painkiller, and tattoo artists often avoid numbing creams because they require 20 minutes or so to take effect and can prolong the procedure. Like the tattoo itself, pain is personal. What one person finds excruciating might be quite bearable to another. But since you may not know what your tolerance level is until you actually go under the needle, here's a short list of the most potentially painful places for body ink:

1. The eyeball. Believe it or not, some people do get permanent makeup inside the eye, says Zwerling About once a year, a patient asks him to put pigment into a disfiguring blind eye to make it look like a normal one. The many nerves going into the front of the eye would make this an excruciating procedure without anesthesia. (Two other popular spots for permanent makeup—the eye brows and lips—are also painful, the lips especially so because of the many nerve endings located there.)

2. The mons pubis. The pain of getting a tattoo down under runs a close second to the lips, says New York laser surgeon Bruce Katz, who specializes in removing tattoos. There are a lot of nerves, which provide pleasure (as opposed to pain) under different circumstances. If you try this in a tattoo parlor, ask for a cream, advises Katz.

3. The top of the foot or ankle. Lots of women opt for tattoos in this area so the eye-catching designs will be visible when they're barefoot or wearing sandals during the summer months. But it's also ouch-inducing because of the absence of fat.

4. Behind the ear. A tattoo here can be endearingly sexy. Just remember ladies, there's nothing in this spot but skin and bone—and nerves (though not as many as on your lip surface).

5. The rib cage. If you're thin, this might be one time you'd be grateful for a layer of fat around your middle.The absence of padding makes this one of the most painful places for men to get a traditional tattoo.

Some other tips: Don't take aspirin before getting a tattoo, as it can increase bleeding (though other pain-killing pills can help). Schedule a time when you won't feel rushed, advises Karen Hudson, editor of "Chick Ink: 40 Stories of Tattoos—and the Women Who Wear Them." An average-size tattoo takes about two hours; ask the artist beforehand for an estimate of how long yours will take. If you're afraid of needles, consider a spot where you can't see the needle go in, or resolve not to look. Another option: a henna tattoo painted on the outer layer of the skin. There are no needles involved. As the skin exfoliates, this kind of tattoo slowly disappears. If you miss it, you can replace it with permanent body art. If not, you'll be relieved you only got a temporary tattoo. Removing an inked tattoo is painful, too.

Editor's note: The original story incorrectly referred to "black" henna; after being alerted to this error by readers, we deleted the word "black."

© 2008 Newsweek, Inc.
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Top Opinion

  • Foo Master Angie 2008/02/08 21:47:08
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    Foo Master Angie
    I have one on my foot, and the honest truth? I laughed the entire time. That wasn't NEARLY as painful as the one on my lower back!

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  • gbrus 2013/05/17 18:57:39 (edited)
    2. The mons pubis (not going to show a photo of this one)
    Absolutely worth it! My boyfriend and I both love strawberries, so I got a strawberry patch placed there for him because I loved him so much. Yes, it was enormously painful, but it was worth it all the rest of our years together, and other lovers have been extremely turned on when eating there as well. It has been a highly erotic result whenever anyone goes down there for the 'right' reasons and discovers it.
  • Erika Medina 2010/09/07 17:14:48
    2. The mons pubis (not going to show a photo of this one)
    Erika Medina
    back tatoos
    do they hurt i just want to get my mothers name but somethingn small with stars
  • Schramm Kahee Russell The D... 2009/10/07 02:06:22
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    Schramm Kahee Russell The Dream Weaver!
    I might get one there, but the only one I have at this time is Russell across my back.
  • azianteardrops 2009/10/02 04:34:07
    0. No tattoos for me!
    ....but on the eyeballs?? can they even do that?
  • lisha0412 2009/07/07 07:15:57
    1. The eyeball
    I have a tattoo on the top of my foot, it was tender but not bad like I though; I am considering getting one on my rib though.. just not sure how bad it is in comparison to the foot.
  • StrangeLittleRedHead 2009/06/19 04:27:08
    0. No tattoos for me!
    they might look cool but i have a rlly low pain tolerance ouch!
  • 0. No tattoos for me!
    ϟ Emma ϟ_♥loves♥supernatural♥
    0 tattoos
  • Reborn 2009/06/18 08:33:15
    5. The rib cage
    When I can, I want to get my entire back done, and sleeved out down my arms. I'll plan on the back piece wrapping around to my chest. That should do it for a while.

    You're asking about the most painful tatts. Let me tell you about one of my artists. He, based on what he heard, put a tatt on himself EVERYWHERE it was reputed to be the most painful. This included the bottoms of his feet, his nutsack, his throat, his wrist, and the palms of his hands. Of course, I asked him if it was as bad as he'd heard, and he said only the wrists. The ink won't stay in the bottoms of the feet though.
  • EchoPsychotic 2009/06/01 01:22:17
    4. Behind the ear
    I would get the ear and the foot/ankle. The eye ball is extreme and u must consider the consequences but its a pretty good outcome.
  • SarahLee 2009/04/13 14:19:55
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    I think I could do the ankle...but other than that I'd probably do the non-painful places
  • crinklemynoseandsmile 2009/04/08 03:28:14
    5. The rib cage
    Of those places I would get it there. I actually wanted to get it there at first (right below the collar bone, above my boob), but apparently not anymore. :)

    If it weren't for some jobs having a "no tattoo" rule, then I'd get one on my lower arm. rib cage places collar bone boob jobs tattoo rule arm

    Like this, just with musical notes instead of....what is that?
  • Racquel 2009/03/29 23:36:30
    0. No tattoos for me!
    Never on the eyeball......eewwwww!!!!
    I have had my eyeliner and lipstick done in permanent makeup, which is pretty much like a tattoo.
  • *Zebra*Luver* 2009/03/29 22:12:02
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    one on my outside ankle, nothing big only like a nike sign or somtin 3 foot ankle ankle nike sign somtin
  • Bob, the reasonable one 2009/03/29 19:34:56
    0. No tattoos for me!
    Bob, the reasonable one
    I don't have any, but I like some tattoos...I always think if I get one it wouldn't be relevent to me several years later..and then I'm stuck with something I have to spend too much money changing later....
  • BADGIRL 2009/03/29 19:28:36
    1/2. I'll only get tattoos in non-painful locations
    i have 4 but the artist kick me out he got tired of hearing a grown woman cry for 1hr
  • shazamboanga 2009/03/29 19:22:19
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    I've got one on my wristish area... but I a thinking about getting one on my ankle.
  • iLuvMCR<3 2009/03/29 18:48:21
    4. Behind the ear
    and on my ankle and i plan to get a tattoo on my nukkles to XD
  • Fangs 2009/02/03 10:34:09
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    My wrist is my first choice, but I can see getting one on the ankle or foot.
  • flower 2009/01/30 01:47:17
    1/2. I'll only get tattoos in non-painful locations
    the eyeball just scares me
  • SB247 2009/01/07 20:17:14
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    This one i am getting it is going to be a breast cancer ribbon
  • brittney 2008/12/09 15:42:28
    5. The rib cage
    i would def get one on my rib cage..but i would get one on my foot/ankle or behind my ear too...
  • TeeTee Metal(is a real girl) 2008/11/21 20:20:01
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    TeeTee Metal(is a real girl)
    I've got a deathbat on the top of my foot and my next planned tattoo is a rib piece. I'm getting the most painful ones first.
  • mrachelle13 2008/09/19 00:52:54
    4. Behind the ear
    Or on my rib cage too!
  • Pierced Princess 2008/08/31 07:24:12
    5. The rib cage
    Pierced Princess
    I want one on my ribs
  • Sweetness ~Loves her Lion~ 2008/08/19 10:34:57
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    Sweetness ~Loves her Lion~
    thats the most likely spot i'd put a tattoo out of those places but i want one on my shoulderblade, one on my lower back, one on my wrist and maybe one on my ankle
  • ~LA LEONA~ 2008/08/19 04:46:35
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    ~LA LEONA~
  • Deadman08 2008/08/06 05:48:33
    5. The rib cage
    I'm currently working on my peice that goes over both shoulders,both sides of my ribs,and covers my whole back.Now that's gonna be fun.
  • Magzilla Deadman08 2008/08/06 18:58:44
    Oooh! Good luck with that!
  • Kat 2008/07/25 02:48:58
    4. Behind the ear
    Behind the ear is my favorite place for tattoos. They have to be tasteful, of course. I also think tattoos on the feet are cute too.
  • .:angelbaby:. 2008/07/23 14:35:50
    3. The top of the foot or ankle
    i would probably only get one on my ankle or on my back or arms.
  • darksidedgirl123 2008/07/16 01:09:58
    4. Behind the ear
    you can get one in the eye!!!
    omg!i wonder if that starts cancer,but i would get one in the eye if it can change the color,behind the hear looks cool,i also want one behind my neck,or on my back!(im not a tatoo freak!!!im only 13!!)
  • Cathy *In God we trust* 2008/07/01 00:09:24
    1/2. I'll only get tattoos in non-painful locations
    Cathy *In God we trust*
    I have actually been putting getting one off for
    sometime now. I have been thinking of getting
    one on the back of my calf. Thinking of maybe a
    fairy with wings or a hummingbird. Haven't got the
    nerve up yet.
  • LuckyInk 2008/06/05 14:42:27
    2. The mons pubis (not going to show a photo of this one)
    Been there, done that... it was one of my first tattoos! I did it on myself, of course!!!
  • Magzilla LuckyInk 2008/06/05 17:11:48
    Really? why did you do it by yourself? I'd be too afraid I'd mess it up.
  • tiara 2008/05/29 15:03:20
    1/2. I'll only get tattoos in non-painful locations
    thats just crazy to get a tat in your eye
  • Magzilla tiara 2008/05/29 16:05:40
    I would never do it! that is for damn sure!
  • MaYrA 2008/05/28 18:43:41
    0. No tattoos for me!
    Im good with out one..>>
  • Magzilla MaYrA 2008/05/28 22:28:37
    They are definetly not for everyone (^_^)
  • Mandi 2008/05/28 17:39:21
    2. The mons pubis (not going to show a photo of this one)
    i want angel wings to cover my whole back
  • SoSoSugar 2008/05/22 05:56:07
    5. The rib cage
    if you are worried about the pain then dont get the damn tattoo. The art is what matters. Yeah it hurts a bit, but its well worth it.

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