Tattoos are fun, exciting, and addictive. Once you start decorating yourself with beautiful, personalized artwork, it can be hard to be satisfied with just a few pieces. Tattooing has come a long way in recent years. It has become a fairly easy, clean, and worry-free process, but it is important to remember that it is still hard on your body. Tattoos begin as a wound, and they need time to heal. Getting too many tattoos too fast will be extremely taxing on the body, and can be dangerous. There are many things to consider when deciding how long to wait between tattoos.
So, how long should I wait before my next new tattoo? On average, a tattoo will be healed, on the surface, after about 2-3 weeks. This is the minimum amount of time you should wait in between tattoos.
This estimated healing time is for a tattoo that is perfectly taken care of and doesn’t experience any abnormal reactions or infections. There are many things that can prolong the healing process, and there are several factors that can contribute to the appropriate wait time in between new tattoos.
Higher Risks When you are Actively Healing
As your tattoo begins to heal you will experience lots of scabbing and peeling. This is entirely normal, and will only last around 2-3 weeks. After this period, your tattoo will begin to appear healed. It will become smooth and all the pain and itching will go away. This is when it becomes safer to go swimming, soak in a hot bath, etc. The skin on the surface will be healed, and this is the earliest that you should be thinking about a new tattoo.
However, it is important to consider that the deeper layers of skin will take longer to heal. Just because it starts to feel and look better on the surface, doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of it and paying attention to the condition of the skin. Total and complete healing of a tattoo can take up to six months. Despite the many regulations and safety precautions that have been put in place for tattoos, getting inked will always come with risks no matter how strong and healthy you are. Your body will be weaker and more vulnerable when you are actively healing a wound, and therefore the risk of infection will be higher if you get a new tattoo before an existing one is healed.
Infections Will Prolong the Healing Process
One of the most important things to consider when healing a tattoo is the risk of infection. If you have gotten your tattoo at a clean, professional, and reputable shop, then they have done their part. Doing your research and finding a good shop is the first step to being safe about getting a tattoo, but it doesn’t end there.
Once you leave the shop, you are responsible for the care of your new tattoo. It is imperative that you follow all of the after-care instructions carefully. These are designed to help you prevent infection and make sure your tattoo heals as nicely as possible.
Even if you are careful and take all the necessary precautions, you may still experience a mild infection. If this is the case, get in contact with your tattoo artist and/or doctor for further care instructions, and expect a longer overall healing time. If your tattoo has become infected, you definitely want to wait until the infection has been taken care of before getting another one.
The size of your tattoo may affect healing times slightly. A very small tattoo that is well taken care of will probably heal pretty quickly – similarly to a small cut. If this is all you have gotten, getting a new tattoo soon after will not be a big deal.
Very large tattoos will take longer to heal, as there is more broken skin for your body to regenerate. Not only will it take longer, but it will be that much harder on the body. Your immune system will be hard at work on this large piece of surface area. If you get multiple large tattoos before any of them heal fully, your body will be weakened and the risk of infection will be higher.
If you are interested in a large piece – such as a full back or an entire sleeve – you will likely end up getting it done over multiple sessions. The same things should apply when you decide how long to wait in between sessions. It is all the same tattoo, but allowing the work done in each session to heal before continuing will be easier on your body and ultimately allow the tattoo as a whole to heal without compromising the image.
You want your immune system to be operating at full capacity when you get your tattoo. This will optimize the healing process and minimize any risks involved. Getting a tattoo causes your body to go into healing mode, and you become more vulnerable. If you happen to get sick while healing a tattoo, you should take extra care to ensure your tattoo is kept clean and protected to avoid infection while your immune system is compromised.
In this case, it is a good idea to wait until your body is fully healed from sickness before considering another tattoo.
Your own level of pain tolerance is another thing to consider when deciding on the frequency of new tattoos. Of course getting the tattoo initially is going to hurt, and while this will be the worst of it, it is not the only pain and discomfort you will experience.
Everyone’s skin will react differently to a needle and ink. Factors such as health, strength, and skin sensitivity will all play a role. Sometimes a tattoo will be sore and sensitive for several days after the initial application. You may also experience some irritation and swelling that will cause discomfort. All tattoos will peel and be itchy for a time as well.
Choosing to get several tattoos close together may result in irritation, soreness, and discomfort in multiple places on your body. It may affect your ability to perform very active or physically demanding tasks. Waiting a while between tattoos will ensure that any level of residual pain and discomfort is concentrated to one area only.
There may be some factors that are out of your control when it comes to tattoo scheduling. Many people find one tattoo artist that they like and trust, and they will want to get all of their tattoos from this person. If the artist you have chosen is popular, highly experienced, and puts out consistently good quality work, they will likely be booking appointments several months in advance.
If you have your heart set on one artist and don’t want to switch, you may have to wait quite a while between tattoos simply due to the artist’s limited availability.
Multiple Tattoos at Once
If you really have a lot of ink that you are anxious to get quickly, you may consider getting two tattoos at once to avoid the risks involved with applying a new tattoo during the healing process of another. This can work as long as you find a balance. Getting two large tattoos together is not advisable as this may put the body through more trauma and distress than it can reasonably handle. It will also create a lengthy healing process that may be compromised due to the huge amount of skin trying to heal all at once.
Two small-medium sized tattoos, however, may be a reasonable route to take. You will have to deal with two areas of soreness and itching, but if you are prepared and they are small it will likely be manageable. In addition to only having to go through the healing process once, having two done in the same session will save you money! Each tattoo session will have a minimum price as it requires set time up times and new inks and needles. If both are done at once, you save on set up and tear down.
Waiting for Touch Ups
Getting a tattoo touched up is not the same as getting a whole new tattoo, but it still requires some waiting. Touching up a tattoo will break into the skin again, but quite minimally. Tattoos don’t always heal 100 percent perfectly, therefore a touch up will likely be included in the cost of your tattoo, or be available for a low additional cost.
While there is very little risk involved in the touch-up itself, you do want to wait until the tattoo is sufficiently healed before having any part of it worked on again. If the skin is still raw or sensitive, then touching it up will only irritate it further. It is good to wait for the surface of the tattoo to heal completely and the skin to return to normal before going back for a touch-up. This will probably be a minimum of one month.
Tattoos are a beautiful and unique way to express yourself, and you may want to cover yourself in them. That is great, but remember – you’ve got your whole life! Tattoos are risky and it is not worth compromising your health just because you are in a rush. Take care of yourself and let things heal before you go back for more. It will be worth it in the long run.