Rib Tattoo: Read This Complete Guide Before Getting One

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Many men and women alike want to get a tattoo on their ribcage, but they don’t know where to start. That’s what this guide is for. 

In it I will go over the possible placement of tattoos on your ribs, how much they hurt, getting them in general, and answers to questions like: “Why do tattoo artists hate rib tattoos?”

All things considered, when done right, a ribcage tattoo is one of the most amazing tattoos you can get.  It is simply beautiful.

Possible Placement for a Ribcage Tattoo

There are several different places where ribs can be tattooed, but I am going to cover two of the most common ones here.

Side of the ribs

The simplest answer is just anywhere under the armpit. This covers both of your ribs and makes for a truly stunning piece. However, you have only one layer of skin covering your bone in this area, so it hurts more than other rib tattoos would. 

In fact, this place is very painful and not recommended unless you have a high tolerance for pain. 

You also need to take into account that women’s clothing does not always expose this part of a person’s body, meaning that you need to wear tank tops, bikini tops, or something similar for this to really work.

Back of your ribs

Another one is in the back of your ribs, specifically the upper back. This is by far my favorite location for rib tattoos because not everyone can see it. But, some people might be attracted to it if you show off enough skin!

Make sure that you wear something to expose this area though, since otherwise nobody will be able to see it well (unless the fabric is really thin, or see-through). Also expect more pain than usual here due to this area being so much fleshier than other possible spots on your ribs. 

You also need to consider that your back curves, meaning that not only do the bones stand out much more prominently, but there is less space between them as well (making for some oddly shaped tattoos).

rib tattoo

How bad do rib tattoos hurt?

As a general rule, tattoos on your ribs could hurt quite a bit.  Most people have at least a moderate to high pain tolerance, but if you don’t, it might be a good idea to get another area tattooed. There are many other places to get inked up if you don’t like pain (such as your arms, legs, shoulders etc).

Under the armpit is going to hurt by far the most because not only are you putting ink into one of the thinnest layers of skin around your rib cage, but also the bone itself. On top of that, you are pushing ink into a curve which makes any tattoo on ribs more painful than usual.

Above the armpit hurts too, but nowhere near as much since there is flesh covering most or all of your bone here.

Back of the ribs are pretty bad for the same reason (and actually hurt even more because they are not curved/rounded like under the arm). It’s probably best to avoid ribs if you don’t have a high pain tolerance, or prepare for a rib tattoo.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Getting Rib Tattoos

Now that you have all the information you need from this guide, here are some things to consider when trying to decide whether or not to get a rib tattoo 

Will Your Job Allow It?

This is probably the biggest thing to consider. If you work in a profession where no tattoos are allowed (such as law enforcement), then rib tattoos seem like a good idea since they are easily hidden.

Are You Scared of the Pain?

Although getting a tattoo doesn’t hurt as much as most people likely think, it is still no walk in the park. In fact it is more painful than almost any other area of skin on your body, so you have to be prepared for some pain.

Are You Willing To Be Stuck With It?

Tattoos are permanent so before getting one, make sure it is exactly what you want and that you won’t regret it later on. If your tattoo artist allowed you to preview his work before giving him your order, then don’t hesitate asking him how long the design will take to heal over time since this can change depending on how thick or thin he makes any lines or shading. 

Generally rib tattoos do not cause many problems after healing, but I would still avoid having a really large one due to the possibility of infection.

Ribs are Not Skinny Areas

This seems obvious but you should never forget that ribs are boney areas that are not the same as skin. Although getting tattoos on ribs has become significantly more popular, it can still be seen as strange to older generations since they do not understand what ribs are like.

Most tattoo artists will ask you for a description of your preferences before they start any design (in case there is something you didn’t notice), so make sure to give them some information about what size and color you would prefer (if you want one).

ribcage tattoos

FAQ about rib tattoos

Why do tattoo artists hate rib tattoos?

Rib tattoos are usually not very appealing to tattoo artists because they are so easily hidden and the bone is not smooth like most other areas of your body. In addition, this type of rib tattoo can be really tricky to get right because of the bone curve in that part of the body.

What is the best tattoo design for ribs?

Since ribs are pretty small, there is not much you can do. You should probably go with a simple design or just stick with one color if you want the tattooing process to be as easy as possible for your artist (which will likely mean less pain).

What’s the worst part about rib tattoos?

The worst part by far is the pain. If you are considering getting a rib tattoo because you think it would be hidden (which is better than getting one on your lower back etc, but still not good enough), make sure to keep the above information in mind about pain tolerance and how painful it can actually be.

What does a rib tattoo symbolize?

There are many ideas about what rib tattoos may mean. Some people believe it symbolizes strength, others think it is to show femininity, while some think it represents compassion towards others.

The best ink for rib tattoos

As long as you choose a high quality tattoo artist, any kind of ink should work since there are no rules against using just about anything. If you are considering getting a white ink design, make sure your tattoo artist is experienced with designs like this to prevent problems later on.

Is a rib tattoo worth it?

The truth is that if you have the determination to get one then you should go for it, but weigh out all your options first. 

I hope this guide has been helpful in deciding whether or not to get one and good luck with your search!

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