7 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Get A Tattoo

If you are a person who is alive in the world in the year of our Lord 2017, chances are good that, at some point or another, you have considered getting a tattoo. I live in Brooklyn, and, because of this, it is possible that my judgement is skewed. But, from my vantage point at least, tattoos seem to have increased in popularity and decreased in stigma over the last few years, which means that tattoos of all kind are practically commonplace, whether they’re tiny Disney princess tattoos, full-on thigh tattoos, or something in the middle.

Still, despite the fact that tattoos themselves are hardly shocking—or, perhaps, because of it—a lot of people don’t really know what happens during the actual tattooing process. And, if you think about it, this is kind of a problem. Tattooing is usually totally safe, but getting some ink permanently implanted in your skin doesn’t happen, like, without any effort, which means that some pretty weird things can happen to your body when you get a tattoo.

None of these things should be, like, a major deciding factor in whether you decide to get a tattoo or not—as long as you do your research beforehand and go to a tattoo artist you trust, you should be fine—but they’re still important to know about. So, whether you want a tattoo or not, check out these weird things that happen to your body when you get a tattoo:

You’ll Bleed

Since tattoos involve inserting a needle with ink into the dermis (the second layer of skin) and piercing the skin at 50 to 3,000 times per minute, it is likely that there will be some blood when you get a tattoo. (And possibly for a while afterward, too.) How much you bleed depends on a number of things, such as where you get your tattoo and if you’re on any blood-thinning medications, but your tattoo artist should be able to talk you through it beforehand.

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Afterwards, You’ll Scab

And, because of the bleeding, you can expect to have some scabbing on your tattoo for about four to six weeks. This is due to a fluid, called plasma, that your body naturally produces after a tattoo that hardens and creates a scab-like layer after coming into contact with fresh air. This scabbing should shrink and grow less noticeable over time, but if it starts to feel excruciatingly painful or secrete a yellow-green ooze, head to a doctor ASAP—this is a sign that your tattoo is infected.

Image source: Getty

Plus Some Itching And Peeling

Along with the scabs, you will also probably experience some itching and peeling on the skin, also for about four to six weeks. Although the one thing you’ll probably really want to do is scratch it, try and resist the urge—this will slow down the healing process and potentially cause scarring. To deal with it, talk to your tattoo artist about what to do—many artists give their clients some after-care cream to help speed up recovery and minimize itching.

Image source: Getty

You’ll Experience An Adrenaline Rush

Tattooing basically involves making thousands of tiny wounds in the skin, which means that the body views it as trauma. To deal with this, the body induces your fight-or-flight survival instinct, which puts a rush of adrenaline and endorphins (your body’s natural pain relievers) into the body. This results in a semi-euphoric “high” that often comes with exercising and orgasming.

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The Ink Might Leak A Little

If you notice that your tattoo seems to be seeping ink into the plastic covering that your tattoo artist put over it, don’t worry—this is normal. It looks scary, because it tends to make it look as though your tattoo is getting smudged, but that’s not really the case. In fact, seeping is a generally a good sign, since it shows that the tattoo is healing normally. You can expect there to be some seepage for a few days after getting the tattoo, but if you’re concerned that you’re seeping too much or too little, don’t be afraid to call up your tattoo artist—they’ll be able to give you a good idea of if what you’re experiencing is normal or not.

Image source: Getty

If You Don’t Eat Beforehand, There Will Be Consequences

Please eat a full meal before getting a tattoo! Tattooing takes longer than most people think (the average amount of time it takes to get a tattoo is five hours) and you need energy to withstand the pain you’ll be experiencing during the process. My fellow Gurl writer Nina Braca said that she fainted while getting a tattoo because she hadn’t eaten beforehand. So, definitely eat a good, solid meal before getting inked.

Image source: Getty

Your Body Might Reject The Tattoo

In some cases, people experience a negative reaction to the presence of a foreign material in the body that can result in an autoimmune condition. This is quite rare (if everyone developed autoimmune diseases upon getting inked, tattoos definitely wouldn’t be as big of a “thing”), so you definitely shouldn’t assume that this will happen to you. But it’s scary because you can’t predict how your body is going to react to something if you’ve never done it before. So, if you’re getting your first tattoo, try to get one that’s on the smaller side, and use extra caution if you’ve had bad reactions to new medications or unusual experiences in the past.

Image source: Getty


Were you surprised by any of these things? Which ones? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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