“We measured tattoo experience as a sum of number of tattoos, lifetime hours tattooed, years since first tattoo, percent of body covered, and number of tattoo sessions,” the researchers wrote.
Participants who were getting their first tattoo had an increase in cortisol levels and a large decrease in immunoglobulin A. For those who had tattoos already, immunoglobulin A dropped slightly. Researchers believe that this may be because those who have already been tattooed have a stronger immune response. Researchers suggest that multiple tattoos stress the body repeatedly and may cause the immune system to adjust and increase internal set points.
“Putting it in perspective, getting a first tattoo is like your first workout at the gym. At first you feel exhausted and your muscles ache. But in your next several visits at the gym, the muscles get stronger. You feel less and less exhausted the more you frequent the gym,” a Tech Times reporter wrote. Having needles push ink into skin exhausts the body, but may also be giving the immune system a healthy workout.
While the research is revealing, Tech Times also notes that the study had a very small sample size, and that additional research is required. The study also noted that another explanation may be that individuals with healthy immune systems heal faster, making them more likely to find multiple tattoos appealing.