Getting Tattooed in Your Golden Years

If you are a woman or man in the Golden Years of life and have decided to get a tattoo, you may be surprised to learn that you are not alone. There is absolutely nothing odd or out of the ordinary to have waited until later in life to get a tattoo. If getting tattooed is not on your list of things to do, there are a few points to keep in mind about the process:

  • Understand the state of your skin
  • Choose a simple design
  • Choose a suitable location on the body
  • Check medications

Understand the State of Your Skin

As you move forward to get a tattoo, bear in mind that your skin at this juncture in your life as a senior is different than what it was when you were in your 20s or 30s. As skin ages, the surface layer, called the dermis, begins to get thinner. In addition, you need to bear in mind that aging skin heals more slowly.

These two factors, lessened elasticity and slower healing can potentially complicate the tattooing process. With that in mind, we offer some strategies to assist in mitigating the risk of tattoo-related difficulties.

Choose a Simple Tattoo Design

People in their Golden Years tend to be wiser in selecting a simpler tattoo design with a lesser level of detail. This is because of the state of a person’s skin beyond the age of 60: thinner and slower to heal.

“Size and level of detail will have to be more carefully thought through,” offers Dan Hunter, founder of Authority Tattoo. Authority Tattoo is the first online resource for high-quality, dermatologist-vetted tattoo information.

The recommendation is that, when choosing a tattoo design once you are over the age of 60, it’s likely wise to shy away from designs that incorporate a lot of fine-line detail. Thicker lines probably make more sense.

This has less to do with style than it does with functionality. “Tattoos can’t be too small or too detailed due to the elasticity of the skin not being as great as it once was,” Hunter explains. Because mature skin is delicate and more prone to bruising and color bleeding, thicker lines typically are the most forgiving for your skin during the tattooing process. Thicker lines are also likely to heal more easily.

Of course, in the final analysis, it is up to an individual person to decide what he or she would like to have done in the way of a new tattoo.

Choose a Suitable Location on the Body

People do have different pain thresholds. With that said, tattoo artists are in general agreement that there are locations on a person’s body that are more uncomfortable to tattoo.

The key to choosing a less uncomfortable – or even painful – place on the body to tattoo necessitates a focus on locations with less bone and more fat muscle. These include:

  • Outer arm
  • Outer thigh
  • Calf muscle

Areas to consider avoiding include hands and feet.

As with tattoo design, in the end, the determination of where a tattoo is to go is a decision for the individual wanting a tattoo.

Check Medications

Tattooing essentially does entail creating a wound. You typically can expect to experience some bleeding while being tattooed. Because of this fact, you should avoid taking anything that thins the blood and could cause undue bruising.

Common blood thinners include medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, according to the American Association of Family Physicians. Keep in mind that medications are not the only blood thinners to avoid before being tattooed. Some beverages also have been shown to have a blood-thinning effect.

For 48 hours prior to tattooing, you should make sure you avoid alcohol and caffeine.

If you are taking prescription medication, you need to talk to your doctor before being tattooed. You need to check with your doctor if you are thinking about skipping doses of prescribed medication.

  • Reducing Pain, Bleeding, and Bruising

There are some products available to you that might be helpful when it comes to reducing tattoo pain, bleeding, or bruising. These include:

  • Lidocaine
  • Benzocaine
  • Emla®
  • Ametop®
  • Epinephrine

Always talk with your doctor before taking any new or different medication.

Use a Cold Compress

As mentioned previously, because of the normal aging process, our skin becomes more prone to bruising and color bleeding. To keep your tattoo intact, consider this strategy.

After prepping your skin and right before tattooing, ask your artist to place a cold, damp paper towel or ice on the area. This tactic has the potential to reduce bruising and color bleeding by reducing blood flow to the area. This can occur because of what is technically known as vasoconstriction. Vasoconstriction is blood vessels constrict in response to cold. Once an area is complete, replace this cold compress to help reduce swelling. The possibility also exists that a cold compress might also help to numb the area somewhat, reducing your perception of pain.

Make a Plan With Your Tattoo Artist

With the information in this article, there are some additional thoughts to keep in mind when talking to your tattoo artist. For example, talk to your artist about the kinds of needles and the depths of the needles that will be used. “Needle depth will play a part in how painful the tattoo will be for an older person,” says Dan Hunter. “The skin will be thinner, and it will be easier to delve a layer or two deeper into the dermis, which could cause a bit more pain.”

There are some actions your tattoo artist can take to help keep the needle from going too deeply into the dermis. “Inks and needle sizes generally don’t have too much bearing on pain,” says Hunter. “But magnum needles can be easier on the skin and, in turn, cause less pain, as fewer passes are needed over the same area.”

In conclusion, by planning ahead and considering the strategies set forth in this article, the process of getting a tattoo can be a relatively easy experience. You will be able to get the tattoo you may have been thinking about for some time – and be happy that you did!