Tattoo on the elbow, what you should know, and how much does it hurt?


When it comes to an elbow tattoo the main question I get usually is “how bad is getting your elbow tattooed?”. Some say that elbows are one of the more difficult spots to get inked and the pain you have to endure, but results can be impressive. 

 tattoo on the elbow for women mandala
Mandala tattoo on the elbow for women, inspiration from Pinterest, profile of Estefania Arr

What answers you will find in this article about a tattoo on the elbow?

  • Tattoo on elbow meaning,
  • Compass tattoo on elbow meaning,
  • Cobweb tattoo on elbow meaning,
  • Eye tattoo on elbow meaning,
  • Eagle tattoo on elbow meaning,
  • Elephant tattoo on elbow meaning,
  • Tattoo on elbow pain. Does the elbow tattoo hurt?
  • How long do elbow tattoos take? How long will you have to endure the pain?
  • How bad does an inner elbow tattoo hurt?
  • Are elbows hard to tattoo?
  • Tattoo on elbow healing. Do elbow tattoos take longer to heal?
  • How do you sleep with a new elbow tattoo?
  • How soon after a tattoo can you shower?
  • Tattoo on the elbow cost,
  • Tattoo elbow fading – do elbow tattoos fade?
  • What to do if your elbow tattoo is fading?
  • Is it normal for a new elbow tattoo to look faded?

If you are looking for inspiration before your elbow tattoo, check out my portfolio – you can find my works and projects here – on Instagram.

Tattoo on elbow meaning

As for me, not the location on the elbow carries meaning, but the design that you will choose for your elbow tattoo. If it will be a spiderweb tattoo on the elbow, for example, it is associated with being trapped, tangled in the system, or just being idle and letting the cobwebs form.

tattoo on the elbow for men mandala
Mandala tattoo on the elbow for men, inspiration from chronicinktattoo.com

Below you will find a list of the top 5 inquiries that I have about elbow tattoos with their meanings. 

Compass tattoo on elbow meaning

A compass tattoo on the elbow represents the quest to find the right path in life. It’s been like this since ancient times, as compasses have helped people to find the right direction and have many saved people from death.

tattoo on the elbow for women compass
Compass tattoo on the elbow, inspiration from tattoosforyou.org

Cobweb tattoo on elbow meaning

For some people, the elbow spiderweb tattoo is most associated with doing time in prison. For others, especially now when tattoos became more popular it sometimes symbolizes being trapped, tangled in the system, or just being idle and letting the cobwebs form.  

tattoo on the elbow cobweb
Compass tattoo on the elbow, inspiration from bridesmaidsincorporated.com

Eye tattoo on elbow meaning

An eye tattoo on your elbow might represent a lot, depending on what you believe in and want it to signify by choosing the right eye design. It might include meanings like vision, life, religion, the proper focus, clear thinking, the inner being, smartness, protection, intuition or even foretelling the future.

tattoo on the elbow eye
Eye tattoo on the elbow, inspiration from Pinterest, profile of Amber Lee

Eagle tattoo on elbow meaning

It is a popular interpretation that eagle tattoos symbolize wisdom, power, and spirituality. Eagle is used in various cultures way back then, for example in ancient Greece, it is used as a symbol of masculine strength and virility.

tattoo on the elbow eagle
Eagle tattoo on the elbow, inspiration from outsons.com

Elephant tattoo on elbow meaning

Meaning to an elbow tattoo of elephants that might carry is associated with fact that elephants never forget, and their old age gifts them with admirable wisdom. Elephants are considered to be a universal symbol of strength, loyalty, divinity and good luck. 

tattoo on the elbow elephant
Elephant tattoo on the elbow, inspiration from dubuddha.org

Tattoo on elbow pain. Does the elbow tattoo hurt?

In the case of an elbow tattoo, a lot will depend on your individual pain threshold, but most of my clients agree that getting an elbow tattoo is a painful experience. The reason for that is there’s minimum protection by way of fat and muscle on the elbow bone, making it an incredibly sensitive part of the body.

pain chart for men tattoo on your elbow
Tattoo pain chart for men according to healthline.com
pain chart for women tattoo on elbow
Tattoo pain chart for women according to healthline.com

How long do elbow tattoos take? How long will you have to endure the pain? 

A lot will depend on the size and complexity of your design that you have chosen for the elbow tattoo, so it is hard to estimate how long will the elbow tattoo take. Simple and small designs can be made in 1-2 hours, more complex can take up to 4-5 hours, making this a more painful experience. 

Speak with your tattoo artist about the design and time that it could be possible to finish it in, so you would be able to prepare yourself mentally for the session. 

tattoo on the elbow times average
Estimated tattoing time for elbow tattoos

How bad does an inner elbow tattoo hurt?

You have to be aware that two out of the three main nerves in the arm run right under the inner elbow, and because of that, this part of your body is extremely sensitive. You most likely know the feeling when you hit yourself in the elbow nerve, that sensation could be a part of your tattooing experience in case of elbow tattoo also, so be prepared for that. 

inner elbow tattooed how much does it hurt to have
How bad does an inner elbow tattoo hurt?

Are elbows hard to tattoo?

Most people that have tattoos on elbows agree that it’s one of the most painful body parts to have tattoos on. Also, for a tattoo artist, it is harder to tattoo on the elbow than for example on the thigh or calf, as you have to change hand position many times to make sure that effect will be the best. 

Having in mind that you are causing a lot of pain to your client you have to work fast but on the other hand, you want to make sure that the design will be perfect, so from my experience I can say that elbows are one of the most difficult body parts to tattoo. 

for women tattoo on the elbow
Tattoo on the elbow, inspiration from worldoffemale.com

Tattoo on elbow healing. Do elbow tattoos take longer to heal?

You have to be aware that there is a risk that your elbow tattoo will take longer to heal because of the specific location. For a few days, you can expect some swelling and lack of mobility in your tattooed hand. Because the elbow for most of the time has contact with clothes, and you have to move your hand, it keeps being irritated. This will make the healing process longer, it usually takes 5-6 weeks for the elbow tattoo to properly heal on the surface. 

 healing process elbow tattoo
Tattoo on the elbow healing process, inspiration from reddit.com, user u/kylbhr

How do you sleep with a new elbow tattoo?

For sure, you should avoid lying on the side where you have your elbow tattoo, to avoid additional irritating the tattooed area. For the night you can keep the adhesive wrap on to give another layer of protection to your tattoo. 

But do not avoid sleeping, it is important to rest properly after getting a tattoo done, so only make sure that bedding will not irritate the tattooed area. 

How soon after a tattoo can you shower?

Assuming that you will keep the water away from a tattoo on your elbow you can shower on the same day, but this could be tricky. Most tattooers advise you to wait 24 hours before the first tattoo, but if you would give your new tattoo 2 days before a full shower it will give your skin more time to form a barrier over the tattoo. 

shower with new tattoo when you can take first

But this still means that you should not submerge your tattoo completely and if you would have water on your elbow tattoo when it is fresh you should dry it out as soon as possible, preferably with a fresh paper towel. And for sure forget about a hot bath for 3-4 weeks before your tattoo will not heal a bit. 

Tattoo on the elbow cost

An average range for the elbow tattoo cost is between $150 to $450, depending on the size of your design. Most artists will charge you per hour, so when you will know what design you want to have tattooed on your elbow speak with the tattooer and check how long will the session last, to know the estimated cost. 

tattoo cost on the elbow estimated
Estimated tattoo cost on the elbow depending on the desing

Tattoo elbow fading – do elbow tattoos fade?

For sure one of the disadvantages of elbow tattoos, particularly the outer elbow, is that they fade easily. You have to remember that the skin on the elbow is constantly being bent and rubbed against clothes which lead to tattoo fading.

tattoo on the elbow faded
Faded tattoo on the elbow, inspiration from tattoocraze.blogspot.com

What to do if your elbow tattoo is fading?

If you don’t want to get stuck with a faded elbow tattoo, you might consider those options for fixing a faded elbow tattoo: 

  1. Touch up with your tattooer – some tattooists offer free touch-ups for their clients. Usually, the only condition is that the tattoo fading isn’t a direct result of aftercare negligence, but it would be better to speak with your artist before the session about this, some tattooers have a schedule so full that they no longer can do free touch-ups. 
  2. Recoloring of your tattoo – it might work after some time when the color of your tattoo will fade to arrange another session to re-color it and give it a new life. 
  3. Tattoo cover-up – if you are ready for something new tattoo cover-up might be an option, you can completely cover your old tattoo with a new one or show some parts of the old design, depending on what you like. 
  4. Tattoo removal – last option, but still possible one when your design with time will fade too much, and you do not want to have a new one at the same place. 

Is it normal for a new elbow tattoo to look faded?

Do not worry too much during a few 4-5 weeks if your new elbow tattoo looks dull or faded. I know that this can be quite worrying, but rest assured this is normal. 

tattoo on the elbow looks faded healing
Healing tattoo on the elbow looks faded, inspiration from bigtattooplanet.com

There is typically still a very fine dead layer of skin over the tattoo at this stage of elbow tattoo healing, and those layers will naturally flake away over the next month or two until your skin has completely healed.

Some of my favourite designs, tattoo books and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Deasign and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my Clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my Clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):

Looking for more info about tattoos? I might have them covered!

I have written almost 100 articles about tattooing – with details about each body part, problems that you might have with your tattoo, designs, styles, aftercare, and much more.

Have a look at the search option and see if you can find what you need here.

other posts from  InkArtByKate
Some of my other articles, check them and see if you could find what you are looking for!

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