Anaesthesia: A safe method when having a tattoo?
Is anaesthesia the solution to a painless tattoo?
03 October 2023
Getting a tattoo can be very nice, but also very painful.
Some areas of the body with more nerve endings than others, and therefore they are more sensitive to needles and feel the pokes.
Likewise, the pain threshold always depends on each person and some people do not tolerate it that well. For these cases, many opt for anaesthetic methods to reduce the pain, but did you know it's not a great idea? We'll tell you why.
There are several analgesic methods to reduce pain, such as creams, but they are quite controversial.
There are tattoo artists who simply don't care about using them or not as long as the person doesn't suffer, but on the contrary there are those who think that to get a tattoo you must go through that moment of pain.
At the end of the day, you're putting ink inside your skin, so that's the price to pay.
But the truth is that many people really do not tolerate pain, and it can even make them faint.
To avoid this, here are some methods.
Products with anesthesia for tattoos
different products on the market contain anesthetic effects for tattoos. The most used are creams.
These are sold under medical prescription, since extreme care must be taken whenever it involves any chemical or medication.
The reality is that although there are several types of creams for this use, not all of them are approved.
Unfortunately, not all of them are verified by experts to be able to be marketed with the consent of health organizations. This point is essential.
There are many options on the market, such as the Emla or TKTX brand, but they are not allowed for sale in some places.
But let's clear up some doubts.
When is it advisable to use these creams?
As we have mentioned before, these products must be used under medical prescription. Its uses depend on your client's tolerance when tattooing, but it is recommended that, after medical consultation, they be used in intolerable cases.
As we mentioned here, Clearing doubts, where does it hurt more to get a tattoo? There are areas of the body that, due to their high degree of nerve endings, are more sensitive to pain.
In general terms, the pain depends on the person and the area to be tattooed. Therefore, the use of anesthesia for these cases can be excellent.
In turn, there are also styles of tattoos that are more invasive to the skin and cause much more damage.
Here, the types of needles, voltages, and number of passes over the same area can cause the client to feel more pain than usual.
For example, in realistic tattooing, and more so when it comes to Color Realism, the skin tends to hurt a lot because you need to make several passes, one on top of the other, to achieve a good result.
If you want to learn more about this, go to MasterCourse: Realistic Tattooing in Color, where we explain all the tricks and techniques you need to know to approach this complex style.
Do not hesitate and learn with us to be a good professional!
How to apply them?
In the case of the approved ones, it is necessary to follow the instructions of each one to the letter and always read the patient information leaflet.
Typically, 1g is used for every 1 cm of body surface area, and a very thick layer of cream must be applied to achieve its effect.
The application mode of these creams may vary as indicated by each one. Still, it is advisable to wash the entire area well, preferably with hot water, shave, and then apply the cream in a layer of no less than 2 mm and cover with cling film for an hour.
This way, we will ensure that the medicine can be well introduced into the pores.
Are they safe?
Although it is rare, some ointments can cause allergic reactions, so it is advisable to consult an expert before using them.
For their part, the levels of lidocaine (local anesthetic drug) they contain are somewhat high (around 5% per ointment) and, therefore, can be dangerous in cases where it is not applied correctly or applied excessively.
Rarely, methaemoglobinaemia can occur, a disorder in which red blood cells lose the ability to properly transport oxygen to the tissues, producing a bluish tone to the skin, a feeling of irritability, anxiety, or even shortness of breath.
Can they affect the tattoo?
The ointments contain anticoagulants. On the one hand, they have vasodilators, so lidocaine enters the skin pores more efficiently. But they also have vasoconstriction to prevent blood irrigation.
By not having proper circulation, the ink injection process may not be as effective and may not cure in the same way. The skin tends to get tougher and tighter and not be as flexible or bleed similarly.
Also, if you are tattooing, and you cause a wound by not bleeding too much, you cannot know whether you are causing damage to the skin.
Finally, there are people for whom the effect lasts more or less, between 4 hours and 30 minutes… It is something very relative.
If tolerance to the product is low, it may happen that, at first, the pain from the needles is tolerated, but when the effect of the anesthesia wears off, it may be challenging to finish the session since the pain can go from 0 to 100 in a matter of minutes, which changes the perception of pain.
Many tattoo artists prefer not to use them and work with natural and progressive pain. And there are also tattoo artists who simply dislike the feel of the skin with these creams and prefer not to use them.
In any case, it is always advisable to talk with the client and reach a point in common, ultimately, it is the body of another person, and it is important to respect personal decisions as long as you have rigorous information and medical endorsement.
The artist who used general anesthesia to get tattooed
It sounds crazy, but it is true. It is about the use of general anesthesia in the same way that happens before surgery.
This is something very new, about which little is known, but since it is injectable anesthesia and total numbing, under no circumstances can it be done by a tattoo artist. It is necessary to have a whole team of specialized doctors!
The procedure cost is very high: around $40,000 or more.
The benefit? The person can remain in an induced coma for many hours without moving or feeling anything, and this would make the most of the session. In addition, there are no alterations in the blood since it flows well and does not affect the result or the healing.
The tattoo artist Joaquín Ganga, known as Ganga Tattoo, has been the first to publicize this procedure, being the famous singer Post Malone, the client chosen to carry it out.
His studio works hand in hand with a team of professionals, doctors, and tattoo artists who work side by side in the same session, being able to perform several tattoos simultaneously and accelerate the process with a huge design.
The session was held in a private clinic in Los Angeles, and, in addition to having the tattoo artists, the moment was also used to perform a dental procedure.
The session had a total duration of 7 hours, the time to make four tattoos.
Undoubtedly, this is very recent, so we cannot determine exactly what benefits or cons we can find in it.
It is a procedure available to a few willing to pay. We emphasize that having a team of specialists is necessary since it is a hazardous and delicate medical procedure.
So, what is the best option for pain-free tattooing?
As we told you at the beginning, some believe that to tattoo, you have to go through pain, whatever the area of the body. And for them, “if you want something, you must earn it.”
As we told you in the The Brutal Black Project: when pain is the protagonist, some people take this to the extreme, and dedicate themselves to making tattoos hurt, a lot!
But for those unwilling to undergo such brutality, multiple methods exist to reduce pain, especially for people with a high pain threshold.
But remember that the same creams or products with anesthesia are not available in all countries, since they are considered illegal for public sale. Check in advance the best options available in your region.
We are far from commercializing a general anesthesia procedure, which may not be the most recommended.
If your client believes the best option is to use anesthetic cream, you should warn them about its possible contraindications.
Good communication is essential!
If there are still doubts, recommend a specialist. Either a dermatologist to rule out possible allergies or a doctor to avoid future complications and be able to purchase the product.
Do needles hurt that much? Do you prefer tattooing with or without anesthesia? What is the experience with your clients? Drop us a comment!