In my personal opinion, a tattoo is an experience that must be enjoyed with all the senses: hear the buzzing of the machine, smell the fragrance of the shop, see the designs in the shelves, eat or drink something between the breaks; and of course: feel the needle on the skin. Yes, tattoos hurt, and there are people that simply cannot withstand, and in those cases one can use anesthetics.
Although not a lot of tattoo studios would support the idea, it is a last source and maybe you would like to choose it (but then again, try to avoid it!)
About anesthetics used for tattoos
The anesthesia that can be used is topic (local effect), which is mostly sold as a cream and is applied all over the area where the tattoo will be done. This kind of creams inhibit the nerve terminals, making them unable to transmit information (including the pain), and also immobilizing the muscles.
The most popular product is Emla (Lidocaine and Prilocaine), which can be found in almost any drug store, although in some of them they could request a medical prescript. The cream must be applied around 30 minutes before beginning the tattoo session and lasts for around one hour.
You can also find Emla in some tattoo studios, although there is a lot of discussion on the topic and there are some tattoo artists which will simply refuse to use it. You also need to know that this anesthetic is expensive, and will make your tattoo more expensive. 30 grams cost around $25 dollars.
Effectivity of Emla
This is other topic that is often discussed. Some people assure that their effects are minimum; while others assure that without it they wouldn’t be able to withstand such pain. What is important to keep in mind is that the duration of the emla is around one hour, after that the effect will fade slowly.
As the pain starts to increase some people can get really in shock, and it is because we will start feeling the needle, but also all the inflammation that already occurred and we didn’t notice at all.
Also, once the tattoo session has begun, it is not recommended to apply more emla, as this can irritate the open wound and therefore cause more pain. Remember that it is a cream that is applied on the skin, not injected.
Enjoy the pain; it is not the worse you will feel in your lifetime. Believe me.
Photography by Brandice Schnabel (Creative Commons)