85 Rib Tattoo Designs – Complete Guide to Getting a Rib Tattoo

The part of your body you choose for a cool new tattoo plays an essential role in the final appearance. If it’s your first time getting a tattoo, you must know that body placement should complement the design you’re going for.

Choosing a placement can get a bit confusing at times, especially when you have so many to choose from, but there are only a few factors you have to consider when choosing one.

One of those factors includes the pain level. If you want a unique placement for your tattoo, the rib is a cool area to consider. But before you dive right in, remember that there’s a lot more to rib tattoos. From the pain level to aftercare, you must educate yourself on various aspects before getting a stylish rib tattoo.

With the help of this complete guide to rib tattoos, you will now be able to make your placement decision and know about different concerns that may arise during a rib tattoo.

What is a Rib Tattoo?

Rib tattoos appear on the area near your stomach and sometimes land on the side, which is also known as a sternum tattoo. Rib tattoos are one of the most painful places to get a tattoo due to the bony base.

There are many ways you can showcase a rib tattoo, as you have options to get tattooed on the softer area, which is near the stomach, or on the side that extends to your underarms. Rib tattoos require a high pain tolerance and a lot of confidence.

These are one of a kind tattoos that help you achieve the uniqueness in a tat that everyone looks for. The best part about these tattoos is that it’s personal, as you will cover it most of the time with everyday clothes. But once you hit the beach, you will surely surprise everyone and flaunt your rib tattoo.

You have to consider numerous aspects before getting a rib tattoo. To find out, read further below and enjoy your rib tattoo journey.

Should I Get My First Tattoo On My Ribs?

Getting your first tattoo is one of the most nervous experiences you might go through, but there is always a fun outcome to it. Choosing placement is another difficult decision you have to make when determining which tattoo design you’ll settle for. But if you’ve made up your mind that you don’t want to go through something too intense on your first time, you should get something less painful than a rib tattoo.

Rib tats are one of the most painful placements to get a tattoo on, but it depends upon the person’s individual pain tolerance as well.

This area has more bones and less tissue, so you’re more likely to experience pain. If the thought of immense pain scares you, you should go for something subtle and less painful, like your hand or arm.

There’s no harm in going for a rib tattoo, even if it’s your first time, though your tattoo artist may advise you to opt for another placement. Nevertheless, you’ll feel stronger than ever, going through the pain and achieving something beautiful on your body. There are many ways to control the pain, which you can find out from below.

To make it a bit easier during your first time, you should opt for a smaller tattoo design on your rib. This way, you can see if you’re ready to go for something bigger that may be more painful.

How Bad Do Rib Tattoos Hurt?

As mentioned earlier, rib tattoos are quite painful, and the reason for this is because the area is very delicate with a bony base and less cushioning. The pain tolerance varies among people, but you will experience some pain for sure, at least in contrast to other placements.

The pain depends on your tolerance, so if you have very low pain tolerance, it would be best to avoid getting a tat on your rib; however, you could prepare yourself for the pain by trying out other placements and slowly adapting to it. The tattoo artist’s technique also plays an important role in pain management.

Well-trained and experienced tattoo artists pay a lot of attention to reducing the pain by tattooing in a way that the client doesn’t feel too comfortable. Some tattoo artists are good at keeping the wearer engaged in conversation, which is one of the best ways to manage pain.

Pain is part of the tattoo process, and it’s a different kind of experience you go through it. The pain shouldn’t stop you from getting one, all you have to do is prepare yourself mentally, and you’ll feel proud of yourself once you achieve some unique body art on your ribs.

Why Do They Hurt So Bad?

One of the main reasons rib tattoos hurt so severely is because this placement situates on one of the most sensitive areas of the body. The skin on your ribs is quite light and stretchy. That’s why it includes a lot of veins. When the needle pierces through these nerves, the skin becomes very sensitive, and the process may become more painful.

When the tattoo artist penetrates the needle through the epidermis and into the dermis, you feel a sharp pain along with some burning. Then again, this can vary from one person to another. You may find the pain bearable if your tattoo artist keeps taking breaks, but sometimes this just becomes more painful if the session tends to last longer.

Tattoos generally hurt more than usual when you get them on any area of your body, and the ribs are a part of the body with numerous bones. This is why you will feel a more gushing pain in the ribs compared to other areas of your body. You will eventually get used to the pain over time and remember no pain, no gain.

So even though this may sound scary and nerve-wracking to you, rib tattoos are of the most worthy experiences you will go through, and you will surely not regret going through a little temporary pain and earn something beautiful.

Do Rib Tattoos hurt more if you’re Skinny?

There is no research to support this clause, but generally, a skinny person might experience more pain when getting a rib tattoo. The ribs locate in one of your body’s most sensitive areas, and because there are more veins present, you’re bound to experience more pain.

If you have more fat on your ribcage area, especially the sternum, then you may experience a small amount of pain considerably, but then again, it depends on how tolerable you are towards the pain.

No matter if you’re skinny or fat; you will experience some amount of pain that may be too intense for some and normal for others. Being skinny shouldn’t stop you from getting a rib tattoo. You can take all the time in the world to prepare yourself to handle the pain. Hopefully, you can do it if you’re daring in person. This kind of pain is something you surely won’t regret.

Tips for Handling the Pain

One of the best things about tattoo pain is that they’re controllable; you just have to try the right measures that may help lessen your rib tattoo pain. There are a few tips mentioned below that might come in handy for your next tattoo appointment, especially if you’re getting a rib tattoo.

1.      Numbing Cream/Spray

Before the tattoo artist pierces the needle through your skin, he/she will apply numbing cream on the area of your tattoo to make the skin a little less sensitive. Some tattoo parlors may not follow this step, so it’s best always to prepare yourself with numbing cream.

To some extent, a numbing cream is effective. Remember that the cream has a differing ‘numbing’ effect on each person, so some people might not find a difference in the pain.

Nonetheless, a numbing cream is quite effective, and it may really help you deal with the intense gushing pain on your rib area from the tattooing needle. If you plan to use it, make sure you apply the numbing cream a few minutes before the tattoo appointment.

Hopefully, you will experience a less-painful tattooing procedure. Make sure not to go overboard with the cream by finishing all of it in one go, as this may come in the way of your tattooing process. A small amount is just right to put you at a little bit of ease.

2.      Choose a Minimal Design

If it’s your first tattoo and you’ve chosen the ribs for your placement, then it’s best to go for a small minimal design. A small design will help minimize the pain compared to when getting a bigger detailed one. There’s a lot you can do with small tattoos by making use of your creativity. Make sure to go to a professional tattoo artist as you never know they might help you archive something unique with the smallest tattoo designs.

3.      Go to a Professional Tattoo Artist

The amount of pain you experience will depend on how calmly and professionally the tattoo artist carries out the tattooing process. An experienced tattoo artist will know how to deal with their client’s pain and put less pressure on tattooing sensitive areas such as the ribs. To avoid going to an unprofessional tattoo artist, you must research on a few parlors around you and ask other people for their experience at a particular tattoo parlor. It would be best if you went to a tattoo artist who specializes in rib tattoos.

4.      Eat a Healthy Meal

Before you go in for your tattoo appointment, you must eat a healthy meal. Nourishment is important while getting tattooed as this will keep your blood pressure under control and prevents dizziness that may worsen on an empty stomach. During the tattooing process, your blood sugar levels might drop, causing you to experience more pain, hence don’t make the mistake of going without eating.

5.      Avoid Painkillers

Many people end up taking painkillers in the belief that they will experience less pain, but in turn, it may become more painful. Pain killers make your blood thinner, and thinness leads to more pain, and it also makes it difficult for your tattoo artist to continue with the tattoo process. If you want to go through a smooth tattooing process, avoid painkillers and maybe just bear the pain for a while.

Which Side Should You Get a Rib Tattoo On?

Rib tattoos leave you with a large space to incorporate whatever design you want, even if it has many details. The best part about getting a tattoo on your rib is that you have the option to cover your whole rib or get it on different sides of the rib.

You could either get it on the front area of the rib, the sides, known as the sternum, or incorporate a back tattoo with both sides of the ribs tatted. There’s a lot you can do once you start thinking about it, but knowing which is the right place on the ribs to get it on depends on your personal preferences.

If you look at the pain factor, you will experience pain on all sides of the ribs, especially on the sides. You can ask your tattoo artist to advise you on where in the rib you can get tattooed. This is also kind of confusing for the artist sometimes as they will have to consider your bodily appearance and may ask you a few questions themselves.

If it’s your first time getting a rib tattoo, it would be best to go for something small, even if you’re getting tatted on the sides of your rib. No matter which side of your rib you get a tattoo on, it will look amazing as ever. Just make sure to picture yourself with a tattoo on each side, so you have an idea of what to expect and choose one that will make you feel more confident and unique.

How Much Does a Tattoo Artist Charge for a Rib Tattoo?

Rib tattoos are quite expensive as the tattoo artist requires proper skills and the right techniques to carry out a tattoo in such a sensitive place. The cost varies around the globe in different tattoo parlors, but there are a few factors that determine the cost of your tat.

The area of the rib, design, and size are three of the most important factors that determine your price. Side and rib tattoos cost almost the same; if your tattoo is around 6 to 8 inches and includes color, it will amount to around $600 to $700.

These tattoos also take longer to complete; hence it costs more. If you’re going for a simple design and something small in size, then it would cost you around $50-$400. The highest price at which your rib tattoo could go to is around $4000 as this includes a lot of detailing and takes more space, including your back.

Some tattoo parlors charge on an hourly basis, so it depends on how long your tattoo takes to complete; you will have to pay accordingly. Most tattoo parlous charge $150 per hour, but it’s best to check the tattoo parlor’s pricing method before booking your appointment.

What Should You Wear For Your Session?

It would help if you were in the most comfiest outfits when going for a tattoo appointment. When it comes to getting a rib tattoo, it can get a bit confusing on what to wear as you’re not sure for how long you have to stay still, and plus how comfortable you will be removing your clothes. It’s best to wear something light and loose if getting a rib tattoo.

For women, the ideal choice for clothing would be a bikini top or crop top. Even loose dresses are a good choice; however, you must make sure you don’t put on a new outfit as there is a slight chance that you may get a bit of ink on your clothing by accident.

Avoid wearing thick fitted clothes such as a jacket or something that sticks to your body. Wearing comfortable clothes also puts you at ease and may help with the stress and nervousness at the time of your appointment.

When Can Women Start Wearing a Bra?

It gets a bit complicated for women when they have to put on a bra after getting a rib tattoo. The last thing you need is something stuck tightly on your tattoo, as this would only create a mess. Your tattoo artist may tell you to wear a bra after 2 weeks once you’re through with eth healing process; however, you can wear a certain type of bra before those two weeks. Make sure the bra you wear isn’t too fitted as it of a smooth material.

Most bras come in nylon, and this usually causes sweating and may lead to an infection as well; hence avoid wearing nylon bras or those that don’t agree with your skin. You could preferably go for sports bras, bikini tops, or a strappy crop top.

Try limiting the times you wear a bra, as this would help with the healing process and prevent your rib tattoo from getting stuck or pulled out. You can avoid wearing a bra by staying indoors for a while, or if you’re comfortable with not wearing one at all, then that’s even better for your rib tat.

Tips for Not Wearing a Bra

There are a few things that can act as the best alternatives for a bra and will make you feel a bit comfortable, especially when you have to get outside. One of the best alternatives for bras is nipple covers or boob tape. These products are perfect for outfits with low necks and backless, but you can make use of these during the two weeks after your tattoo appointment. Boob tape and nipple covers are easily available in stores.

You could also choose to wear a shirt that suits your braless look, and with some shirts, you can really tell if you’re wearing something underneath or not. The other best option would be to wear something loose or baggy such as sweatshirts.

The more layers you wear, the less likely it will look that you’re braless. There are also many outfits out there that don’t require a bra, such as sundresses and backless dresses. You could incorporate these in your wardrobe more, and you never know you might get comfortable with them more than you thought you would.

Do Rib Tattoos Stretch During Pregnancy or Weight Changes?

Depending on what type of rib tattoo you get, your tattoo may stretch during pregnancy and weight changes. During pregnancy, the skin on the stomach starts to loosen and spread out; hence it’s more likely this will affect your tattoo, especially if it’s a big tattoo taking up more space.

Many pregnant women are able to maintain the tattoo from stretching too much after their pregnancy. This involves eating healthy and being active.

Weight changes may cause your tattoo to stretch and fade as well, but you can control this by maintaining a healthier lifestyle. If you’re prone to weight fluctuations and know that you’re about to get pregnant, then it’s best to plan your rib tattoo before rushing into it.

It would be best if you opted for a smaller tattoo more towards the side that may not stretch too much or best is to wait until after you’re through with the pregnancy.

Will a Tummy Tuck Affect a Rib Tattoo?

Tummy Tucks are a surgical procedure that involves tightening the abdominal skin in order to create a slimmed look. Tummy tucks may be of concern when it comes to tattoo lovers, especially those that have tattoos on their stomachs and lower abdomen. But, the good news is that you don’t have to worry about your rib tattoo if going for a tummy tuck.

This procedure may cause the tattoo to change its outlook if appearing on the stomach and lower abdomen. Your rib cage tattoo may stretch a bit depending on its size and where exactly it appears. Tattoos that appear in-between the stomach and ribs may also get slightly stretched, but sometimes it doesn’t look that prominent.

Will a Rib Tattoo Bruise?

Bruising is quite common in tattoos, especially if you’re getting one for the first time. Rib tattoos are more likely to bruise due to the loose skin, and the ribs are a sensitive place. Bruising is completely normal, and it is most likely to happen due to the trauma your skin goes through after the tattooing process.

A placement like the ribs is likely to face more trauma due to the sensitivity, and during the tattooing process, the needles jam inside your skin, which causes trauma and leads to bruising. If the skin is constantly exposed to the tattooing needle with a million jams every minute, then bruising is quite evident and normal.

Tattoo bruising may also occur due to blood thinness caused by alcohol and painkillers consumption. Sometimes the tattoo artist could go wrong with his/her technique that might also lead to bruising.

How Do You Care For a Rib Tattoo?

Aftercare is an important stage for every tattoo; however, the good thing about rib tattoos is that there are no joints in that are hence; it doesn’t require much aftercare compared to other tattoos. One thing you have to take care of is your tattoo getting stuck to your clothes, especially during the scabbing process. The best way to prevent your tattoo from pulling out or getting stuck is by wearing loose clothes.

You don’t have to worry about damage from the sun as this area is mostly covered with clothing, but still, avoid wearing crop tops outdoors or taking a tan at the beach in your bikini. You still have to keep your rib tattoo motorized to prevent it from drying, especially if you live in a humid environment.

Make sure to use the right moisturizer at least twice a day. This will help keep your tattoo moisturized and fasten the healing process. Sometimes it does get tempting to touch the tattoo, especially when it starts to itch during the tattooing process. If you keeping hydrating your skin, you can easily fight the urge to scratch.

How Fast Do They Heal?

Just like other tattoos, rib tattoos will take the same time to heal, which is around 2 weeks, but this also depends on how well you take care of your new rib tat. After two weeks pass, your tattoo still needs time to settle in.

Though you’re through with the initial healing stage, your rib tattoo may take more months to settle in properly. Hence, for the first few months after the healing process, continue to keep your rib tattoo motorized and clean it regularly. After two weeks pass, you will notice a new well-settled tattoo and can enjoy the perks of having a cool rib tattoo.

Final Words

Getting a rib tattoo may be one of the coolest decisions you ever make, and you will surely get through the whole process smoothly with the help of this article. Make sure to practice the different tips mentioned above that will definitely help you enjoy the experience of getting a tattoo on your ribs.

If the pain is what’s scaring you, know that a lot of people get rib tattoos, and by following proper guidelines, they can get through a few minutes of pain. So you’ve got this! And you definitely don’t want the pain to keep you from achieving a beautiful piece of art on your body.