Originally Posted by EAL0044
I personally am not into tattoos but many of my friends have them. The advice is: to avoid infection go to reputable tattoo artist and ask if the use disposable instruments or autoclave them. They should have reviews posted on internet (some registered with BBB), can check those out. If disposable needles are used be sure he/she gets yours out of a brand new package. For pain, this is easy, you can ask you doctor to give you script for tube of cream called EMLA. It is topical anesthetic you need to put it on the area 20 min before the tattoo and it'll be painless. Not sure if primary doc
will be willing to do that depends on what kind of relationship you have with him/her, but dermatologist will do that for sure. I probably wouldn't tell them the Emla is for the tattoo, maybe say it's for hair removal or something.
Needles are always disposable (in any shop worth their salt), but tubes and whatnot are autoclaved.
Generally, the artists will have a portfolio in the lobby of the shop, look for clean lines and solid shading/color.
If you don't know the artist before hand, I wouldn't go in expecting to get tattooed that day. You can generally book a consult (or jut walk in off the street), and find a good custom shop where they will actually draw something up for you, rather than picking flash off the wall. Reference photos for content and style are good to bring with you.
I've never heard of emla, but I wouldn't recommend it. A quick google search says it wears off in 30 - 45 minutes anyway (average tattoo can be closer to 2 hours give or take, depending on the complexity of the design), and I wouldn't want to stop to reapply. I don't know what's in it, but putting that on an open wound does not sound like good times to me.
The pain is not fun, but bearable. Depending on the area you're getting tattooed, some will hurt more than others. Arms, shoulders, anything meaty are easier. Ribs, fingers, feet, anything bony will hurt a lot more. I'm not sure a topical would have any affect on those areas either.
Keep it clean. Wash it off after you get home, and put ointment on it. I like aquaphor. Buy a good scent-free anti bacterial soap like dial.
Use thin layers of ointment for the first few days, until the top later of skin sheds off. Too much will blow out the color, but too dry will scab up and not heal well. You don't want the skin to get hard and shiny. You can even wrap your leg or whatever the first couple of nights in saran wrap so the ointment and ink don't ruin your sheets.
Last thing: don't be cheap. You get what you pay for, and you're going to have it forever. And don't forget to tip.