Getting a Sleeve Tattoo – Here’s What You Need to Know


If you’re thinking of getting a sleeve tattoo, you’ve come to the right article. Having one is a huge commitment, so before you book an appointment with your favorite tattoo artist, we’ll tell you first everything you need to know about sleeve tattoos.

What is a sleeve tattoo?

A sleeve tattoo is either a large tattoo or a collection of small ones that cover a part of the majority of a person’s arm.

Sleeve Tattoos: It’s four types

There are four types of sleeve tattoos, and they differ according to the extent of their coverage.

  • Hikae: This is a Japanese-style sleeve tattoo. It covers the chest area and extends up to the elbow or the wrist.
  • Full Sleeve: As the name implies, this tattoo style starts from the top shoulder down to the wrist.
  • Half Sleeve: The tattoo design in this type starts from the top of the shoulder until the elbow.
  • Quarter Sleeve: In this style, the tattoo starts from the top of the shoulder until the midway of the elbow.

Before you get a sleeve tattoo, plan everything first

A sleeve tattoo is not like any other tattoo. Since it will cover more skin than usual, it will require a more elaborate art. During the planning phase, work with your tattoo artist. Tell him what you want and allow him to create his art. Collaboration is needed to come up with a good and satisfying design. Working together will also allow you to finalize all the details and colors for the design quickly.

Tattooing the final design over your arm will take a while. That’s why careful planning is necessary to prevent any regrets or dissatisfaction.

The process of getting a sleeve tattoo

Now that you finalized your design, what happens next? The process may change depending on many factors, but here’s a general idea.

  • First session: This is when the outline of your final design will be sketched over your arm.
  • Second and third session: This is when your tattoo artist draws your tattoo in detail. The shading will come next.
  • Last session: The last day is dedicated to coloring and adding the finishing touches.

Expect each session to take from three to five hours depending on you and your tattoo artist’s capacity to sit and focus. The process can last for several months and interval for each session takes around two to three weeks.

Do the aftercare

Proper care for your skin is important after each session. Here’s what you should do:

  • Don’t remove the bandage immediately after the session. Keep it for a while first.
  • If you’re going to wash it, use antibacterial soap and gently pat it to dry.
  • Allow it to dry for ten minutes.
  • Apply a thin layer of lotion over it. Do not overdo because your skin needs to breathe too.
  • Wash and moisturize the area at least two to three times a day. Do it until the peeling stops.
  • Never pick on scabs or peeling skin to avoid any infection. Allow it to fall off naturally.

What to remember

Getting a sleeve tattoo also means that your movements will be limited for a while. It will take around six months before the whole tattoo fully heals. If you’re planning on getting a sleeve tattoo, adjust your schedule and activities accordingly.

Do not expose yourself to too much water too. Instead of long baths or swimming, take a quick and lukewarm shower instead.


The arm is considered a low-pain area for tattoo, plus there is more space to draw on it. It’s the perfect body part to make art and make a statement, and one grand way to do it is through a sleeve tattoo. This kind of tattoo may take a while to plan and finish, but if you work with an amazing tattoo artist, all the pain and trouble will be worth it!

Convinced of getting a tattoo sleeve or a simple new tattoo? Lucky Deville Tattoo is where you’ll find the best tattoo artists in Buffalo, NY. Set an appointment today!