Hi, I'm Nicola, and I have a sternum (a.k.a. an underboob) tattoo — a huge one. Thanks to its placement, it's probably the tattoo of mine that gets seen the least but somehow gets the most compliments. That's fair ... Pinterest and Instagram have made sternum and underboob tattoos highly sought after.
But getting a tattoo in that spot is a lot more difficult than it is for most other body parts. Take it from someone who has tattoos scattered all over her body, it's no cake walk. Here are the top 10 downsides to getting an underboob tattoo.
Tattooing the sternum is harder to do, technically speaking, and therefore tattoo artists usually charge a higher hourly rate or take longer to complete a sternum tattoo.
It's a hell of a lot harder to create one smooth image on top of all those ribs of yours — where your skin is more likely to move around — than, say, the smooth surface of a calf or an inner forearm. That level of difficulty does get factored into an artist's pricing.
This also means you're going to have to be extra selective when choosing who's going to tattoo your sternum.
Places such as the sternum, the head, the feet, the neck — really any spot on your body where there's a lot of bones, loose skin, or joints — are harder to tattoo, which means you're going to have to look for an artist with a higher-than-average skill level. And THAT means you're going to have to be even pickier when choosing an artist for your sternum, especially if you're a stickler for small details.
Another reason to be selective? You're going to get VERY intimate with your artist, whether you like it or not.
The closer your tattoo is to your boobs, the more this is going to apply to you. Your artist is likely going to place your tattoo so it lies just under where your breasts fall naturally — that's going to require you to show them where your girls sit without a bra on. When it comes time to get tattooed, your artist might even give you gauze and tape for you to cover up so you can sit on the table without a shirt on.
Then, as if that weren't intimate enough, whoever is tattooing you is going to have to hold you down in the general boob area while they ink your body permanently. If the idea of potentially baring your boobs to a stranger isn't ideal for you, maybe go with a female artist and ask for a private tattooing room if possible.
That being said, tattoo artists see all kinds of body parts every day. Seeing your boobs is not a big deal to them in the slightest.
The sternum is one of the most universally painful body parts to get tattooed.
It's mostly agreed that the closer skin is to bone, the more painful it is to get tattooed, and the sternum and ribs are just bone on bone on bone. They're also, conveniently, quite close to the heart — I can personally attest, the strong and consistent vibration of a tattoo needle RIGHT above your most vital organ does not feel great.
You will not be allowed to wear a bra the day you get tattooed — and you won't be comfortable in one for a week or so.
If you have any other tattoos, you know exactly why this is. Tattoos are like burns or really big cuts when they're fresh, and it's irritating to have anything rubbing up against it too much. Once the healing begins, it's going to get really itchy anyway, so it's better to just let things hang loose in a t-shirt.
You'll have to avoid light-colored tops until you've entered "the scabbing stage."
Some sternum tattoos are really hard to keep wrapped up, even with those high-tech burn covers on hand, so you might have to let it heal without any barrier between your skin and your clothing. Here's where things get a little gross: Fresh tattoos are bloody and can ooze pus — if it sticks to your shirt and dries that way, it's going to stain.
Your bedsheets are at risk of staining until then, too.
For the first few days of healing especially, wearing a shirt PERIOD is going to be uncomfortable. You're best off sleeping without one, face upwards — but if you toss and turn, you'll run the same risk of staining your sheets or blankets.
Speaking of beds, sleeping is going to be VERY hard if you snooze face-down or jostle a lot.
Straight-up, sleeping with a fresh sternum tattoo sucks. Moving around hurts, and you can't control what your body does once you're asleep. If you need to be in a very specific position to fall asleep, and that position isn't stick-straight and face upward like a corpse, prepare to not be able to sleep because that'll be the only non-painful way to lie down.
You'll have to watch your posture while your tattoo heals.
Like when you're trying to sleep, you'll find the best way to make your fresh underboob tattoo feel comfy is to make that area as flat as possible. When you're not lying down in bed, the only way you can do that is to stand or sit up very, VERY straight. Slouching your shoulders might make things sting a little — if only for a few days.
You won't be able to show off your underboob tattoo at the beach or the pool for a long time after it's done.
Sun and chlorine exposure are big no-no for healing tattoos, so if you're planning on flaunting that new ink on the beach or in the pool this summer, plan ahead — otherwise you'll be caught inside.