If you're considering getting a tattoo, you may be wondering where the most painful place on the body is to get one — so you can avoid getting inked there. It turns out that while certain spots on the human anatomy are especially sensitive to stimuli (like needles used in tattooing), the least pleasant places to get a tattoo may actually depend on you and your personal tolerance to pain. That said, doctors agree that some places are going to be universally more painful than others.
There are a few factors that determine how much it will hurt to get a tattoo, and the location is one of them. "The most painful places for a tattoo are areas where the skin is thin, there is less fat, and there are many nerve endings," Dr. Suzanne Friedler, board-certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC and clinical instructor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, told POPSUGAR. "These locations include the face and lips, where skin is particularly thin." She added that hands and feet are full of nerve endings, and areas like the rib cage are particularly painful due to many bones being so close to the skin's surface. "The flexor surfaces such as your underarms, inner elbow, and behind the knees are also sensitive due to the thin skin and lack of fat in those areas," she said.
"Certain areas on the skin have a higher concentration of nerve fibers, and can therefore be more sensitive to pain and other stimuli."
Aside from the location choice, there are other physiological factors that impact how much getting a tattoo will hurt. "Certain areas on the skin have a higher concentration of nerve fibers, and can therefore be more sensitive to pain and other stimuli," Tanya Nino, MD, dermatologist with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, CA, explained to POPSUGAR. "For example, our fingertips are known to have a higher concentration of sensory receptors," she said, adding that the upper lip is also a very sensitive area.
It seems that if you want to avoid the most painful places to get a tattoo, the consensus is to stay away from the face and hands. Dr. Friedler also noted that pain tolerance varies from person to person, which makes sense. "The same person may experience pain differently from day to day and with varying stress levels," she said.
Matt O'Baugh from Black Cobra Tattoos in Little Rock, AR, joked to POPSUGAR that "getting a tattoo hurts the worst wherever you're getting it at the moment!" But he too noted, "We are all wired differently, so some of the more sensitive areas — ribs, top of the foot, chest — may be unbearable to one client, but may not be so bad for another client." Ultimately, according to O'Baugh, it's different for everyone.