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My rib tattoo - the start of somethin' beautiful

After months of reading everyone else's experiences with their rib pieces I'm finally able to upload my own story. I started my oriental rib piece yesterday and survived the first session.

I already have two tattoos. One across my shoulder blades on my upper back, and one small symbol on the base of my neck. Also being a fan of body piercing, I have three. Tongue, VCH and navel. So I wouldn't say I'm whimp when it comes to pain and once I have set my mind to wanting something, I'm not easily put off.

I had done a lot of research on others experiences with rib and side tattoos so was prepared for the pain to be brought when I arrived at my appointment at Powerhouse Tattoo Studio yesterday. Surprisingly though I was a lot less nervous than I thought I would be.

Steve spent over half an hour freehanding the design onto my side, carefully fitting the lotus flower and waves around my body while both standing and lying. When I saw the final sketch in the mirror I was so excited I almost forgot completely what I was in for. I lay on my side on the bed and Steve explained as hard as it was going to be I needed to try and stay relaxed and not forget to breath.

Then the gun started...and so did intense nerves.

He started on my hip and I could hardly feel it. I had braced myself for so much pain that it felt almost nice and relaxing. "Piece of cake" I thought to myself, shut my eyes and relaxed. Steve moved slowly from my hips up to my waist. This was when things started to change. I found it to be a strange sensation, varying between intense sharp pain and almost tickling. As he moved further towards my back it became worse and the nerves in my legs would spontaneously twitch and jerk. It was both embarrassing and annoying at the same time as I had no control over the twitches and was worried about my line work being ruined by a sudden kick out!

As time went on the pain progressively got worse and worse. The further up towards my armpit Steve got, the sharper and more intense the pain got. The front of my stomach and ribs, and the back of my waist were by far the worst. I tried hard to remember to breath in some spots as the pain took my breath away. I found concentrating on steady breathing and trying to focus on another part of my body (wiggling my toes :P ) helped a lot.

The pain was incredibly sharp and dragging. It was nothing like I had experienced with my previous tattoos and I can totally accredit that rib tattoos are GNARLY! The gun going over the ribcage bones seems to rattle through your whole being, and it feels a lot deeper and cutting than other areas. There is an intense sharpness and heat, and you can feel the needle dragging and tearing through your skin. It feels like a whole lot more damage than that little needle could possibly do. I also found my waist towards my back (over the top of the kidneys) pretty intense, and the top of my stomach. Both made me gasp at times and were impossible to block out. Luckily the lines are only a few seconds at a time so you can grit your teeth and hang in there to get through it.

I guess it was a couple of hours of tattooing, although I can't really be sure as I hadn't checking the time when we started. However when Steve said we were finished for the day I was one pleased cookie as I don't think I could have taken too much more.

Steve said I had sat really well, which I was relieved to hear as I was ashamed of the twitching and shivers. He also reassured me that the worst is now over as we are 90% through the outlining, and the shading and colour generally isn't as painful (fingers crossed on that one!)

My lines were swollen and in the tender areas really raised and welt like, however by the next morning the swelling has gone. I slept on my side last night no problems, which I wasn't expecting.

I can't express how happy I am with the tattoo so far. It's going to be a stunning piece and I can't stop admiring it. Full credit to Steve Nesbit of Powerhouse Tattoos for his talent and professionalism.

To sum up for anyone considering a rib piece, I say do it. Yes, it is incredibly painful so prepare yourself for that. If your not one for pain then choose a different area. My upper back was a walk in the park compared to this. Having said that, it is not unbearable and if you are set on wanting your design on your side and are willing to suffer for it, you won't regret it. I woke up this morning and am already itching to go back and get more work done, so the pain sure hasn't put me off. It's a small price to pay for beauty that lasts a lifetime.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 31 July 2008
in Tattoos

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Artist: Steven+Nesbit
Studio: Powerhouse+Tattoo+Studio
Location: Palmerston+North%2C+New+Zealand

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