Your first thought when the anxiety of your tattoo hits is that it may seem sensible to pop a painkiller before your session to help control the discomfort. But is it truly the best idea? We’ll tell you exactly why you should avoid painkillers like Ibuprofen before you get freshly inked.
Table of Contents (clickable)
- Can You Take Tylenol Before A Tattoo?
- Can You Take Xanax Before A Tattoo?
- Can You Get A Tattoo While On Blood Thinners?
Can You Take Ibuprofen or Painkillers Before Getting A Tattoo?
The short answer to this question is: no.
Tattoos are an extremely unique medical procedure that requires very specific conditions in order to be performed effectively and heal efficiently. Rather than dulling the pain of the tattoo, a painkiller like Ibuprofen can actually complicate the entire tattooing process.
These types of painkillers are called NSAID - nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. How NSAIDs work is they help thin your blood so that there is less swelling and pooling in the injured region. Like alcohol, thinning of your blood increases your bleeding during a tattoo session, slows down the natural healing process that follows, and also doesn’t allow you to properly gauge the pain of a session to stop when your body asks you for a break.
Taking a blood thinner like Ibuprofen before a tattoo session could increase the bleeding during your tattoo quite significantly. While some bleeding is normal, excessive bleeding may make it difficult for your tattoo artist to track and trace your design during the session.
While your intent may be to combat your pain and get through a session a lot quicker by taking a painkiller, the more your skin bleeds in reaction to the process, the longer the session takes, and the higher the cost is to you.
Unfortunately, you can never anticipate how a body will react to medication, no matter how many times you’ve taken it before. With the added stress of the trauma of a tattoo session, there could be health risks involved with taking the painkiller before getting tattooed.
Natural Body Response Times are Compromised
Pain is how your body tells your brain, “Something is wrong here and I need it to stop.” If you take a painkiller with the intent to numb the pain of a session, you risk not giving your body the breaks it needs while you are getting tattooed.
Increased Healing Times
The less your blood is able to pool and heal the wound, the more time it will take for your tattoo to heal. This means that painkillers like Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs should be avoided after your session, as well.
Painkillers Before Tattoos - What You Should Know
- Taking something like Tylenol is a perfectly safe alternative to help manage your pain.
- If you get the go-ahead from your artist, you can use a numbing cream to combat your discomfort. Have a look at our list of, The 5 Best Tattoo Numbing Creams For A Painless Tattoo Experience.
- Many tattoo shops will ask you if you’ve taken a NSAID 24 hours prior to your session, knowing how it will complicate the tattooing and healing process. You may be refused service and will have to reschedule your tattoo.
- Tattooing will never be a completely pain-free experience, so find other non-intrusive and uncomplicated ways to combat your anxiety about the pain.
Our Final Thoughts
Painkillers like Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs should be avoided before a tattoo and directly after a session, as well. These medications thin your blood, complicating the entire procedure during your session, as well as the healing process afterwards. There are other ways to have a more pain-free tattooing experience. Have a look at our article, Why Does My New Tattoo Sting? - Minimizing The Pain Of New Ink.