Can You Take Ibuprofen Or Painkillers Before Getting A Tattoo?

Although it would seem appropriate to take Ibuprofen or another type of painkiller before getting a tattoo to help dull the sting of the needles; they may sometimes actually cause issues that can negatively affect your tattooing session.


Whilst every tattoo will bleed at least a little bit during a tattooing session, taking painkillers can heighten the chances of even more bleeding, although the increase in bleeding will vary greatly depending on the exact type of painkilling medication and dosage. This also goes for Ibuprofen.

Painkillers and Ibuprofen before getting a tattoo

When being tattooed, the extremely sharp needles will be poking in and out of the tiny blood vessels grouped just below the skin. Normally this isn’t too much of a problem as your body is naturally great at restricting any blood loss by blocking and clotting any openings quickly.

However, when taking painkillers or Ibuprofen, your blood can become much thinner than usual. This thinning causes the normal clotting processes to be less capable of blocking the blood, allowing it to have a greater chance of leaking out of the small gaps caused by the needles.

tattoo needles fear

Whilst this will not likely be too much of an issue with smaller tattoos due to less damage being caused by the needles - a much larger tattoo can cause higher amounts of blood loss should the painkillers heavily affect the thinness of the blood.

This heavier blood loss can lead to health complications.

Not only this, but some painkillers and aspirins can also affect the natural clotting process, meaning that while your blood will also be thinner, your body will have a doubly hard time at stopping the bleeding  - and this can be dangerous if large amounts of blood are lost.

It is this heavier bleeding that can lead to problems occurring during the tattooing procedure. These problems include:

Tattoo taking blood thinners

Impaired Vision

When your artist tattoos you, it’s imperative that they can see a clear outline of the stencil that they need to trace in order to place your tattoo exactly where it’s required.

However if Ibuprofen or painkillers cause larger amounts of bleeding, this blood can leak and sit on top of the skin more than usual, preventing the artist from clearly seeing exactly where they should tattoo.

Higher Prices

The more your skin bleeds around the tattoo, the longer your artist will need to take wiping away the excess blood. The more stopping and starting required, the longer the session will be overall.

Your artist will also likely need to worker slower and more carefully in order to lessen the chances of a mistake being made if they need to tattoo through extra layers of blood pooling on the skin - and this will add on even more time.

If you’re paying for your tattoo by the hour, expect to pay roughly one hour more for a long session if you’re a heavy bleeder.

Possible Rejections

If your artist deems that there may be potential health risks involved due to the medication that you’ve been recently taking, it is well within their right to refuse to tattoo you.

Experienced artists can also be very good at telling if the heavy bleeding is being caused by any underlying medical conditions or taking of blood-thinning medication/drugs, so it’s always best to just be upfront with your current situation before beginning a tattooing session.

Increased Healing Times

Taking painkillers or Ibuprofen after getting a tattoo can also cause problems. After your tattooing session is complete, the inked area of skin can continue to bleed for up to two days.

However, if you continue to take any blood thinning medication (or start drinking alcohol straight after your session) you can continue to bleed for longer periods of time, delaying healing times in the process.

Bloody Tattoo Wrap

Don't get worried if you see a site like this - a small amount of bleeding is completely normal after getting a tattoo

Painkillers Before Tattoos - What You Should Know

All medications are different, and various painkillers will have various effects on the body, and thus the amount that they affect the thinning of the blood will vary greatly also.

It is for this reason that you should always seek medical advice from a doctor before getting a tattoo if you are on any form of medication to ensure that the procedure will have no negative impact on your health.

It is also very advisable to speak to your tattoo artist beforehand and be upfront about all types of medication that you may currently be taking, including antibiotics. This is to ensure that the artist can prepare for any unusual effects that your medicine may cause during the tattooing procedure.

Your artist may even refuse to tattoo you if they believe that your medication may adversely affect either the outcome of the tattoo or your own general health - but in these circumstances it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Thinking Of Getting A New Tattoo?

Thinking Of Getting A New Tattoo?

REMEMBER - Tattoo aftercare is extremely important, and a good quality lotion is vital to ensure fast and proper healing of your new tattoo.

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Hustle Butter Deluxe – Tattoo Butter for Before, During, and After the Tattoo Process – Lubricates and Moisturizes – 100% Vegan Replacement for Petroleum-Based Products – 5 oz

The best tattoo lotion I've ever personally used is a (vegan) tattoo aftercare product called Hustle Butter. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process - not only to keep your tattoo really well hydrated, but it's also very good at soothing that annoying itching and irritation.

Many other users of the product have also advised that when using it from the very start of the healing process, it appears to decrease healing times and seems to significantly reduce heavy scabbing.

Read more about Hustle Butter here, and have a quick look at some of the customer reviews to see exactly why it's one of the best and most popular tattoo lotions on the market.

Here's a selection of my other favorite tattoo lotions and ointments currently available.


Whilst some painkillers may not even affect the amount that your blood thins at all, you should always be aware of the side-effects that your medication may cause, because many painkillers and Ibuprofen capsules can definitely increase the risk of heavier bleeding, and as discussed, this can have negative implications when it comes to getting a tattoo. Be careful, be cautious, and hopefully you can go on to get the tattoo that you’ve always wanted.

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