How to Survive a Chest Tattoo

Updated on February 8, 2016

Chest Tattoos: How Painful are They?

Imagine an array of colors splashed across a canvas, swirling and spinning, forming a beautiful piece of art in the shape of butterflies and vines and tribal swirls. Now, imagine that canvas is skin and that skin is stretched across your chest.

One word pops into mind: ouch.

Its true that beauty has a cost, but is the beauty worth the pain? That is a question that only you can answer, but this article will help you make an informed decision! Here are some pros and cons to chest tattoos.

Female with chest tattoo
Female with chest tattoo

Tips for Getting Inked on Your Chest

  1. Start small. Especially, if this is your first tattoo. You may even want to think about putting off your massive chest piece dream until you've done something small somewhere it will hurt less so you get a taste of the tattoo experience. Speaking from experience, the chest is one of the most painful areas to get a tattoo (after the foot), especially as you get closer to the breast bone.
  2. Allow plenty of time for it to heal. Plan on at least five days and up to two weeks. You might not realize just how much you move the skin over your chest in day-to-day functions until it hurts every time you move your arms!
  3. Know what you want. Find your design and go to an artist you trust, because it is very hard to hide chest tattoos if something goes wrong. People will see pieces of it revealed by the neckline of a shirt or just plain see it through a shirt if it's a thin material.
  4. Plan ahead. If you are thinking about getting a sleeve or even another smaller piece anywhere near your planned chest piece, make sure it will look good together. Remember, most people will see the tattoos on the front of your body before they see other areas (duh, right?) and nobody wants to look like they have a few missing puzzle pieces.
  5. Think carefully about how it will affect your daily life. If you have to look professional at work, are you willing to always wear high necked shirts because the company has a no-tattoo policy? Or do you want all of the guys at the country club to see your tattoo of a heart with the kick-butt barbed wire with "Mom" in the middle? You are the only one who should be able to judge yourself but we all know that isn't the case in today's world, so take a few minutes to think about the backlash of a prospective tattoo. If you can, take a permanent marker and play with the design or placement of a tattoo and see if it fits in a place that will make the tattoo less of a conflict with your professional life.
  6. Look carefully for the right tattoo artist. If you just want someone to ink your skin, then settle for the first Joe Shmoe that gives you a price on a tattoo. But if you are looking for a true artist, go to every shop you have to until you find the perfect artist for you. I promise you there is someone out there that knows exactly what you are trying to describe and is willing to help you.
  7. Visit the artist in person. Don't just rely on websites (although I do recommend reading reviews posted by others about prospective shops and artists) for your final judgement. Check the places out in person and talk to the artists if possible. Most will give you a quote on the spot plus you can check out the shop (don't ever trust a dirty tattoo shop. EVER!!!) Just remember, this piece of art is going to be with you for the rest of your life. Don't trust it to just anyone!
  8. Have fun!! Tattoos are an artistic expression with no creative bounds! Express yourself however you want!

Don't let any of these scare you away from a tattoo! Use these tips to make an informed decision. I love my tattoos but I do wish I had known then what I know now so take them or leave them, these are tried and true! Don't be afraid to take a friend, or an entire entourage, along for your tattoo experience. Who knows, you might even start a trend! Best wishes!!

Chest Tattoo Designs and Ideas

Male with chest tattoo
Male with chest tattoo


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    • heathermarie628 profile image

      heathermarie628 11 months ago from fresno, ca

      Yasly i suppose you can but honestly the pain is bearable and it can tell you if the artist is doing the tat right. My first tattoo was done wrong and it felt like the artist was dragging a dull, hot knife through my skin. The rest of my tats felt like tiny needles dragging along the top layer of my skin (which is exactly what it is!). It will burn and pinch but shouldn't feel like it's going too deep.

    • profile image

      Yasly 11 months ago

      Could I use a pill to not feel pain in getting tattooed

    • heathermarie628 profile image

      heathermarie628 22 months ago from fresno, ca

      Darkladyv, congrats! Healing can be a stressful time especially once your tat is done and you realize exactly how much that area moves suddenly! I recommend keeping it hydrated with whatever healing ointment you prefer at all times. Keep cloth away from it as much as possible but if it is unavoidable, wear loose fitting, light fabrics, nothing heavy and scratchy. Keep movement to a minimum and don't scratch it once it starts to itch!! It will be healed before you know it!

    • profile image

      Darkladyv 22 months ago

      I've just had my chest piece tattoo finished and it looked incredible! I've had a full day's work split into 2 half days already, then had a full day tattooing done 2 days ago. After about 5.5 hours, my pain threshold had totally disappeared and it really really hurt. Especially on the sternum omg.. any tips on healing it? I find it is soo tight and you're right, it hurts every time I move my arms and I am finding wearing clothes on it difficult although it's not always professional to bear my chest at work! So happy with it though.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 5 years ago from Canada

      This was a very well done hub with some really insightful tips. I have a lot of tattoos, but have shied away from the chest area for some of the considerations you mention above. A worthwhile red for anyone considering getting work done in this area.

    • AlaskaInspired profile image

      AlaskaInspired 7 years ago from Alaska

      i have to agree with this because yet i love my tattoo (the big dipper on my ribs) It was a home tat. I am not discrimgrating(sp?) against home tattoo artists, but i happen to be a jumper. tattoo artists know what that means, it means i may feel like i am laying completely still but my body is reacting with uncontrollable spasms, some i happen to be completely unaware of. this condition is the worst for tattoo artists. they avoid jumpers, regardless how much your willing to pay and how sentimental your tat may be... they will most likely reject an uncontrollable jumper. i love tattoos.. i would paint my whole body with the most respected artists independent creations if my body would allow it... but im still so proud of the one i have! i didn't cry and its on my state flag. not to mention, we see it all year round here in AK! plus the northern lights, which will be eventually my next, in a less sensitive place.

    • heathermarie628 profile image

      heathermarie628 7 years ago from fresno, ca

      Thanks Springboard!! My favorite thing about tattoos is that they make each of us more unique. Besides, as an artist, I love the idea of being a walking canvas!!

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Tattoos seem to me to be a fairly painful undertaking, but there are some very interesting tattoos out there to be sure. My wife has a couple of small ones. One on her ankle and the other on her arm. Not sure if I'd want her to have one on her chest...

      But that's just me. Informative article.