People often have opinions (with a capital O) about tattoos, whether they're in favor or against. And while there are certainly lots of personal considerations when you're thinking about getting a tattoo, like what kind of tattoo you want to get, where you want to have it done, and what part of the body you want tattooed, there are also some well-publicized drawbacks to getting a tattoo at all. But there are also some fascinating ways your body benefits from tattoos, according to science, that you might not know as much about, or haven't spent as much time thinking about when determining if and when to get a tattoo, as well as how many tattoos you want to get.
You likely already know that you need to be careful to use someone that you trust and make sure that the business where you get your tattoo done keeps things clean and sanitary, and while there are definitely things like that that need to be considered and factor into your ultimate decision-making regarding your tattoo, it might not all be negative. There might actually be some ways that your body can benefit from tattoos. From boosting self-esteem to fighting cortisol levels and more, some of the ways that tattoos might affect your body could be different than you'd expect.
1. They Might Help With Anxiety & Depression
You might not think that tattoos could have any influence on your depression or anxiety, and, while getting a tattoo won't treat your anxiety or depression, it might help you cope with the conditions. Dr. David Klemanski, PsyD, MPH, a visiting assistant professor of applied psychology at New York University, told Tonic that these kinds of tattoos, tattoos that are intended to remind you of what you've been through, can also help you own the difficulties you've overcome and show you that you're strong, brave, and capable.
2. If You Already Have Tattoos, A New One Might Boost Your Immune System
The first time you get a tattoo, it won't have a positive effect on your immune system, but a study found that subsequent tattoos might. A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Human Biology found that if you already have one tattoo, your immune system will experience a boost the next time you get a tattoo because the body will have experienced that particular trauma before. But the study was small and it's possible that people with boosted immune systems have better tattoo experiences — healing faster — and so are more likely to go back and get another. So there's still more research needed in this area.
3. They Might Increase Body Positivity
For some people, getting a tattoo has the added benefit of increasing their body positivity too. Plus-size blogger and alternative model Sam Roswell told Bustle that she thinks that tattoos can allow you to see the parts of your body that you may not like in different ways, encouraging you to appreciate those parts of you a little bit more. Transforming a part of your body (or your entire body) by adding tattoos is something that, in this case, might let you redefine that part of you on your own terms.
4. They Might Boost Your Self-Esteem
Similar to the effect that tattoos might be able to have in terms of coping with depression or anxiety, a study from Texas Tech University found that multiple tattoos might increase women's self-esteem, as Science Daily reported, but noted that researchers found that the women with multiple tattoos who had higher self-esteem also had more previous suicide attempts. Researcher Jerome Koch told Science Daily that this might be a case of these women transforming difficult things into something empowering. Like with body positivity, it gives them the power over their own experiences.
5. They Might Help Track Medical Conditions In The Future
This is something that is still uncertain, but it's possible that tattoos might be able to help patients and physicians track certain medical conditions in the future. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and MIT are investigating the potential for biosensor tattoos to track things like diabetes, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances. The website for the DermalAbyss project says that their first study showed "promising" results, but that there are further phases of research required and more study necessary to know if this might really have a big impact in the future.
6. They Might Help Lower Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a stress hormone, so it makes sense that the your cortisol level might rise when you get a new tattoo. The previously-mentioned study from the American Journal of Human Biology also tested cortisol levels since it plays a role in your immune strength as well. Brit + Co. noted that researchers found that your body might actually release slightly less cortisol when you get subsequent tattoos because you already sort of know what to expect. Again, researchers concluded that it might be people that handle this better anyway that would choose to go back for additional tattoos. So more research is needed, but this could be something quite interesting.
7. You'll Get A Boost Of Endorphins & Adrenaline
Because getting a tattoo is typically at least a little painful (though some people say it's excruciating and others say that it's hardly noticeable), you're going to get a little increase in endorphins when you get a tattoo, and, since you're dealing with someone poking you repeatedly with a needle, you'll also get a little adrenaline rush, the Washington Post reported. Getting a tattoo can be exciting and your body responds to that.
Though much of this is still preliminary, and there are still some real, potential negatives associated with getting a tattoo, there might be some benefits to getting a tattoo, as well. And they might be a lot different than what you'd expect.