Anyone who has seen a friend get their first tattoo, then 5 more in the next month, knows tattoos can be addictive. But whether you're working on a full body project or you're just excited to nail down that next design and placement, you'll need to wait until your body is ready for its next session. While your mind might be there, it's an unfortunate fact your body might not be. So how soon is too soon for your next tattoo, and what factors do you need to consider?
The endorphin rush of a new tattoo can be amazing, but remember that tattoos are intended to be a lifelong commitment. Laser tattoo removal is always an option, but it hurts, and it can get pretty expensive. If you don't take the time to think about what you're getting, you might need to go in for a coverup—which can get pretty pricey, too.
Risk of Infection
After a tattoo, your body is fighting hard to heal and fight any infection from your open (tattoo) wound. So while your body art may look awesome on the outside, your inner body is probably craving a little time to rest and recoup in order to repair your damaged skin. How damaged your skin is obviously depends on the size of the tattoo, but it's a good rule of thumb to wait until your tattoo has fully healed before you start on another.
Even if your tattoo is healing beautifully, you'll still need to fund your next tattoo design. Unless you have expendable cash for body art or professional connections within the industry, you'll probably have to work your next tattoo into your own budget. You don't want to get a cheap tattoo in someone's apartment—it'll put you at risk of infection and bad body art.
Pay your bills, mortgage or rent, and food expenses before going for your next ink session. A new tattoo shouldn't break the bank.
If you come down with the flu—or any other illness—quite frequently, or if you care for lots of small children, you'll want to boost your immune system before opting for another tattoo.
The infections that come into tattoos can become real nasty, real quick. They can even become life-or-limb-threatening if they aren't treated promptly and professionally.
If you're set on one particular tattoo artist, you'll need to be at mercy of their tattooing schedule. This means no matter how much you want to get that new design, you'll quickly learn that patience is a virtue. Some artists are booked out weeks ahead, while others won't accept new clients for several years. Also, some artists are only guests at the parlor they're using, meaning their time is incredibly limited.
Anything worth having is worth waiting for, so use this time to ensure:
- Your body is healthy and strong.
- You have the cash to pay for both your tattoo and a tip.
- You've selected body art that will stand the test of time.
- You've limited your contact with people who are prone to spreading viruses and germs.
So How Long is That?
Depending on who you are, it could be a week or several months that you should wait before getting another tattoo. You need time to make a design and artist commitment while prepping your body for another session.
Some people are more impatient than others, and for those people, once your prior tattoo is in the final stages of healing and your artist is available, you're set. But don't get a new tattoo too quick—the more tattoos the body has to heal, the longer it'll take to heal each individually.
Whatever you do and however long you wait, be sure you follow your artist's aftercare instructions thoroughly to ensure your skin stays healthy and well. After all, you want to be proud to show off your new ink.
Rahimi IA, Eberhard I, Kasten E. Tattoos: what do people really know about the medical risks of body ink?. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018;11(3):30-35.
Richmond JM, Harris JE. Immunology and skin in health and disease. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2014;4(12):a015339. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a015339