No longer is the question, “Does it hurt?” but “How much does it hurt?” If you’ve never donned a sleeve of ink, tattoo placement can be a challenging conclusion to come to. High-alert pain points on the body lack a cushion of muscle and fat, allowing needles to penetrate thinner layers of skin and bone repeatedly. However, as they say, “No pain, no gain.” Below are the top ten most painful parts of the body to get a tattoo—if you dare.

  1. Sternum

The sternum, or breastbone, is a long, flat bone that lies in the center of the chest. It extends down to the stomach and is prone to painful vibrations from the chest. Our words of wisdom? Not pleasant.

  1. Inner Arm

The inner arm is known for its notoriously thin skin, with nerves reacting immediately to shader needles. Unlike other areas of the body, the inner arm doesn’t tend to throb. Instead, it scratches and burns.

  1. Hands

Especially on the fingers and knuckles, tattoo needles don’t go easy on bones and ligaments. Not to mention, the skin on the hands is fragile.

  1. Ribs

When it comes to rib placements, outlines, shading, and highlighting are all equally a bummer. Because bones are spread out, there are lots of grooves for needles to graze over unforgivingly. Pro tip—take frequent breaks or split your session into two.

  1. Chest

Unless you’ve been working religiously on your pecs, there will be a tremendous amount of bone on the chest and not too much skin. Chances are, you’ll even feel the vibrations across your entire torso—definitely not as comfortable as you’d like!

  1. Elbow

Elbow placements aren’t very popular, and for a good reason. Primarily bone, the elbow tends to swell, and if you’re not very flexible, you could be sitting at an odd angle for hours.

  1. Feet

If your family members aren’t big fans of ink, the feet are a great place to hide your piece. They aren’t, however, the most pleasant areas to tattoo. Manageable at first, a foot placement tends to worsen over time—especially on the tops.

  1. Armpit

Don’t knock it till you try it—but we won’t hold back, likening a piece on the armpit to intense razor burn. Ouch!

  1. Back of the Knee

There is no doubt getting your knees inked won’t be so much of a breeze as it will be a burn—but you won’t want to count on an application on the back of the knees to hurt any less. Like an elbow ditch, the back of the knee has thin, malleable skin and lacks muscle. Don’t skimp out on stress balls!

  1. Head

Do we need to explain this one? We will, anyway, for the sake of expectations. If you walk into a tattoo shop anticipating a headpiece, you may walk out of it with a throbbing headache. Unfortunately, artists don’t recommend taking a painkiller beforehand—it may thicken your blood.


When it comes to the tattoo pain scale, what it’ll mostly come down to is your pain threshold. As a rule of thumb, expect bony areas with thin layers of skin to feel like more than just a pinch—and remember to breathe normally. At Lucky Deville Tattoo Co, our award-winning tattoo artists make the sting of a needle worth your while. Among the best tattoo shops in Buffalo, NY, our custom and creative pieces are sure to be eye-catching.

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