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Want a painless tattoo?
Here's how to make
a tattoo hurt less:
Many people ask whether it's possible to get painless tattoos. The great news is that it's not only possible but doable by you! All it takes is a little practice.
Here are several ways you can do it on your own and then I'll tell you how I can help you implement the techniques if you’d like me to:
Create a resource: This is something you can use to counteract the possible discomfort you might feel when you're getting a tattoo. Start by remembering a time or situation that you really loved, enjoyed, etc. Maybe a moment in time when you felt invincible… you’ve had those… and then choose an action such as squeezing your fist, and while you think about that great time, squeeze your fist (or whatever you choose) and do that a few times.
With a few repetitions you’ll be able to create a conditioned response that gives you those feelings when you squeeze your fist in the same way on the day of your test. Obviously it’s important you always match the single action to the same desired response.
Distract your mind: Many will opt for music or audiobooks on headphones to distract their mind during their tattoo session. This can work fairly well but your best chance at a painless tattoo is going to come from keeping your mind active and not just using the sound as background music for the pain. Yeah that means listening to the lyrics intently, doing the mental exercises on an audiobook or even singing. For best results and sharp lines, do what you can to not annoy your tattoo artist!
Redirect your thoughts: When I’m at a dental office helping someone get pain free anesthesia I will often have them think about something else that’s happening in their body just before and during the shot. The result is that they don’t feel the needle. If you think about it right now you might begin to notice that sensation on your hands… when you do, just pay attention to whether the sensation is the same on both hands or if the feeling is different on each.
When you’re having a tattoo done you can direct your mind to some other body part (like I just did) and do what you can to keep your thoughts on that part. Get curious and make it fun by thinking about all the details you can notice when you really pay attention.
Touch and science: There are different types of sensation a person might feel. The differences are important because one can counteract the other. Acute pain (like others might have felt during a tattoo appointment,) happens somewhere in your body (wherever your tattoo is) and the signal of pain travels from there up to your brain, which tells you “Ouch, this is supposed to hurt”. This is important because acute pain has to decussate across the spine (travel from one side to the other) in order to reach the brain, while soft sensation doesn’t. To put it simply, acute pain and soft sensation run on a separate network.
This makes soft sensation reach the brain faster than acute pain and it’s the reason we naturally rub a spot we’ve just hit, and it softens the sensation of pain. For your tattoo have a friend with you to help distract you and rub your hand, foot, etc. elsewhere on your body so you can focus on that sensation, instead of the pain from the needles.
All this is great but…
Sometimes keeping your mind occupied when you have 4 or 8 needles piercing your skin repeatedly can be challenging. That’s where I come in.
I can help you set yourself up for painless tattoo success by creating a strong resource with you and teaching you how to make the conditioned responses I just talked about happen automatically. I can even be with you during your appointment by phone, Skype, or in person if we happen to be in Lake Tahoe or San Diego at the same time. Of course phone or Skype make distance a non-factor and works like a charm.