Calf Tattoo Pain - How Much Do They Hurt?

Written by: Claudia
Updated:

You’ve narrowed down your placement and decided on your calf. But now you’re wondering about how much it will hurt. Our Tattoo Pain Series of articles looks at the most popular tattoo locations and gives you the rundown on what you can expect in regards to pain.

Calf Tattoo Pain

We want to tell you the good news right off the bat: a calf tattoo is actually quite low on the pain scale! This is because it is an extremely fleshy and muscular area with few sensitive nerve endings, and little bone to come in contact with during tattooing.

tattoo pain chart

The Tibial Nerve

The tibial nerve runs through your calf and is a branch from the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the human body. But because it is surrounded by muscle, tissue, and tendons, when your artist is tattooing on your calf, it will not come into contact with this nerve.

Tattooing the Calf is Straightforward

Most artists have extensive experience with the calf and know exactly how to manage the skin’s thickness in this area, depositing the ink carefully and without issue.

The shape of the calf is also not complicated, and because the pain level is pretty low, tattoo sessions for the calf are done rather quickly. The only place where a calf tattoo will begin to hurt is as you move down to the Achilles heel, where nerve endings are more sensitive and the exposed bone makes it more difficult to tattoo.

In addition, because of the location, you can often place yourself in a very comfortable or relaxed position while being tattooed, and this makes the entire process a lot easier.

And if you have a fear of blood, the good news is that this will be in a location where you won’t have to keep an eye on the tattoo process and will likely experience less discomfort from this factor.

Swelling

One issue you may have with a calf tattoo is that because it is located below the waist, after you get up, you may experience more swelling to this region. This is easily rectified by elevating the region to stop any pooling of blood, or applying a cold compress to the area.

Easier Healing Process

Because this tattoo is in an easy-to-reach location that allows for optimal cleaning, has less complications due to the simplicity of the tattooing process, and because you can elevate or cover this area to keep it clean, calf tattoos heal quite quickly. This makes the entire process more comfortable.

How to Reduce Pain When Getting a Calf Tattoo

You won’t have a lot of pain to worry about when getting a calf tattoo, though you may experience a little stinging or burning sensations. If you are looking for additional ways to minimize the pain, consider the following:

  • Choose a highly-skilled and professional artist that will not overwork or be heavy-handed on your calf. Ask to see examples of their calf work.
  • Avoid painkillers or numbing creams, as this could thin your blood or elevate your pain when the effects fade away. If you do want to use a numbing cream, discuss this with your artist beforehand. Here are a few of our top recommendations for tattoo numbing creams.
  • Be well rested and well hydrated prior to your tattoo. In addition, you should eat nutrient-packed foods to keep your blood sugar up during your session. Avoid drinking alcohol the night before and directly after your tattoo.
  • Make yourself exceptionally comfortable while you are being tattooed; mind over matter works and it will make the time go by quickly and painlessly.
  • Distract yourself while you are getting tattooed by watching videos on your phone or chatting to a friend via text. If your artist allows, you could even bring a friend to the session with you.
  • Don’t get a tattoo if you are sick, as your body will have a difficult time with regards to how it responds to the skin trauma.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to lift and keep off of your calf area while you’re being tattooed.
  • Your adrenaline is highest in the morning, so if you are able to schedule a morning tattoo session, try and do so.

If at any point the tattoo pain gets unbearable, simply ask your artist for a break in the session. They will likely apply a cream and a wrap that will immediately soothe the inflamed area and allow for an easier experience when you start up again.

Our Final Thoughts

Calf tattoos not only look awesome but, on the pain scale, they rank pretty low. If you’re ever concerned about your own ability to tolerate the pain of a calf tattoo, discuss this with your artist. They will give you tips, tricks, and suggestions leading up to the session, as well as how to handle the discomfort while you’re being tattooed.

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