Stomach Tattoo Pain - How Much Do They Hurt?

Written by: Claudia

You’ve narrowed down your placement and decided on tattooing your stomach. 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.

How Bad Will a Stomach Tattoo Hurt?

Getting a tattoo is never a completely painless experience, and the pain threshold obviously varies from person to person. Some people report the stomach as being completely tolerable to tattoo, while others say the experience is rather high up on the pain scale.

tattoo pain chart

In a medical research study where a man used a bee to sting himself on various regions of his body in order to record the pain index of each area, the abdomen ranked a 6.7 out of ten. That was higher than average for the other regions he tested, but still at a pretty tolerable level.

Despite being an area that is filled with fat or muscle, the pain you experience during a stomach tattoo depends on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to:

The Stomach Location

Nerve sensitivity seems to be higher and fat content tends to be lower in the center of your stomach, going down from your sternum to your belly button. People have reported that this area is more painful than other regions on your stomach.


Excessive, loose, or stretched skin, such as a stomach on a person with a larger body mass, is generally more difficult to tattoo and this can make for a more painful experience.

Scars and Stretch Marks

Scars and stretch marks are more prominent in this region due to rapid weight growth and loss. These are notoriously difficult and painful to tattoo, and artists often have to overwork them to get the ink to stay. This will make a stomach tattoo hurt more.

Pain Tolerance

How much pain you feel during a stomach tattoo will depend upon how much pain you, yourself, can handle. How you manage pain during trauma will give you a good indication as to how painful a stomach tattoo could be for you. Women generally have a higher pain tolerance, making a stomach tattoo more manageable for some.

Tattoo Design and Size

Your adrenaline kicks in within the first 15 to 20 minutes of tattooing, but wears off as time goes on. The larger your tattoo, along with more details, could lengthen your session and lead to a more painful experience, over time. In addition, designs that require shading and coloring use square-ended needles that actually contain a multitude of tiny needles, making for a more painful tattooing experience. These needles are often compared to feeling like an extreme sunburn. If you’re unsure how much you can tolerate, remember that you can start with a small design and expand upon this idea later, once you get a feel for your own threshold.

Preparing for Stomach Tattoo Pain

You’ve decided on getting that tattoo on your stomach, and now you’re wondering how to best prepare for it. Here are some suggestions for before and after your session.


Believe it or not, your mental fortitude will actually help you combat pain. states that, “To a certain extent, the brain can learn how to manage and decrease the sensation of pain using a combination of deep focus, breathing, and imagery techniques.” By telling yourself that this pain is temporary, by encouraging yourself that it’s less painful than you thought, and by staying calm when your adrenaline is high, you could make the experience more tolerable.

Take Care of Your Body

Drinking water to hydrate, eating well, moisturizing your skin, and avoiding blood thinners and alcohol before and after your session could lead to a less painful tattooing experience. It will also help your body have a better and less sensitive trauma response to the tattoo. In addition, you should always make sure you are in good health prior to getting a tattoo as combating a cold or illness means your body’s immune response will already be spread thin.

Schedule a Morning Session

Did you know that your adrenaline is highest in the morning? If possible, schedule your tattoo as early as possible. Adrenaline is what helps your body’s pain receptors handle the discomfort, and it not only fades in strength as the day goes on, but gets weaker as sessions get longer.

Try a Numbing Cream

Numbing cream is a topical anesthetic that helps dull pain receptors and makes for a more tolerable tattooing experience. The problem with numbing cream is that it is also known to make skin more difficult to tattoo, or, when it wears off, it could cause an exceptionally higher amount of pain.

If you do want to use a numbing cream, be sure to discuss this with your artist in your consultation. Some artists refuse to tattoo skin that has used it. If you get the go-ahead from your artist, you can check out our article on Tattoo Numbing Creams.

Ask For a Break

It’s completely appropriate for you to ask your artist to take a “breather” if the pain gets intolerable. We also recommend that you bring snacks to eat on these breaks; they help keep your blood sugar up and this will relieve nausea and lightheadedness from the tattoo.

Our Final Thoughts

The opinions on where stomach tattoos sit on the pain scale are quite torn. How much pain you will feel depends on your own threshold, your mindset, the tattoo you are getting, and your own general health and body weight. Selecting a high-quality, gentle artist will make the tattooing experience infinitely less painful for you. Always remember that a good tattoo isn’t cheap, and a cheap tattoo isn’t good, and it will only add to the pain of the ink.

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