Tattoos are great – they’re stylish, they display art, and they are a unique way to express yourself and your personality. If you’re planning on getting a tattoo, there are some things you should be aware of to properly prepare for the procedure, as it is a needle penetrating your skin and it would be wise to take some precautions and know how to prepare your body for the shock.
The important thing to keep in mind is that certain substances you ingest will make changes to your blood and heart rate, which can impact your tattooing experience. Caffeine has been known to raise blood pressure and increase the heart rate, which can make you bleed more during the tattooing process so try to avoid caffeine for up to 24 hours before your appointment.
After you have a gorgeous new healing tattoo, wait until you’ve stopped bleeding (typically a couple hours) to indulge in a cup of coffee so as not to impede the healing process with increased bleeding.
This isn’t a strict “do or die” type of rule, though. Some people have no problems whatsoever with drinking caffeine before, during, and immediately after their appointment and do just fine. What’s important is that you listen to your own body, and if it’s your first tattoo experience, try to proceed with caution since you don’t know exactly what to expect or how your body might react.
How long should you avoid caffeine before a tattoo?
This depends on metabolism and your own body’s reaction to caffeine. Side effects of caffeine can include an increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and blood sugar fluctuations, all of which can affect your tattoo experience. The effects of caffeine can last several hours and so it’s safest to avoid your favorite coffee beverages or energy drinks for about a day in advance of getting tatted.
Similarly, avoid pain killers and over-the- counter medications that involve caffeine, like Midol or Excedrin Migraine, and/or cause blood thinning, like Aspirin. These have similar effects to your bloodstream, causing increased bleeding and potentially slower healing.
How long should you avoid caffeine after a tattoo?
This time it depends on how much you bled during your tattoo appointment, and whether or not you’re still bleeding after the tattoo is finished. Keep in mind that your new tattoo is an open wound and should be treated like one.
The typical healing procedure immediately following the needle includes leaving the bandage on for about an hour and then removing it to gently clean the tattoo with unscented soap and lukewarm to warm water. This is when you will see how much you’ve bled into the bandage and whether or not you’re still bleeding.
If you remove the bandage to reveal that you’ve continued to bleed after your appointment, that’s completely normal! If you’re still bleeding after the bandage has been removed, it’s probably wise not to exacerbate the wound by adding caffeine to your bloodstream and constricting your blood vessels, which raises your blood pressure. All these things can affect blood flow and how long the wound bleeds.
What should you eat and drink before your tattoo?
It is extremely important to ensure that you have eaten and are nice and hydrated before your appointment. It’s a good idea to hydrate well in advance of your tattoo – as in a week or so. At the very least, start chugging some water about a day in advance of getting inked so your body has a nice window to absorb the hydration into your skin.
When your body is dehydrated, your skin gets thinner and drier, which can make the process more painful and the skin less able to accept the ink which could affect the final product. By drinking a lot of water, it will ensure that your skin is hydrated which will in turn make the skin stronger and more resilient, both making it easier to accept the ink and making the recovery process easier.
Eating before your tattoo is just as important as staying hydrated! Making sure your blood sugar is not too low in advance of your tattoo, as well as while under the needle, is essential to a smooth tattoo process. This doesn’t mean you need to eat five Snickers bars before your appointment – in fact, don’t do that. If you eat an excess amount of sugar, it can make you jittery and shaky making for a rough canvas. It can also cause your insulin levels to rise so much that your blood sugar could tank during your appointment.
The shock of the needle to your nervous system is already enough for your blood sugar to drop, so just make sure that your stomach is full of good, healthy foods before your appointment. Carbs are okay, but not too much since carbs can turn to excess sugar in your stomach and we’ve already discussed the problems with too much sugar before your appointment.
Protein is your friend – it keeps you full and helps maintain your blood sugar for longer periods of time. It’s good to continue to eat protein after your appointment as well as it helps keep your body strong during the healing process.
The bottom line is that you want to stay nice and hydrated and eat a full meal before your appointment. Even though five Snickers bars is not advised, it’s not a bad idea to have a water bottle and some snacks or small candies to munch on during your appointment to ensure your blood sugar stays at a good level and doesn’t drop from the shock of the needle.
As stated earlier, the most important thing to do is to listen to your own body. If you have experience getting tatted before, then you likely know what your body can handle when it comes to caffeine, blood sugar, and bleeding. If you already have chronic low blood sugar, take the necessary steps so that you don’t have a hypoglycemic episode during your appointment.
If you have never had blood sugar or excessive bleeding issues, you could be perfectly fine with your normal morning routine the day of your tattoo, even if it includes a cup of coffee.
Just be mindful of what you put in your body and how much, and pay attention to how you feel during your appointment. If you need to stop and take a break to get a snack or a drink of water, your tattooist will most likely be more than happy to oblige! With these precautions to prepping for a tattoo, you should have a smooth experience and a new piece of art to display.