Willy Weilon, Jose Contreras
Your favorite celebrities have found a whole new way to get tattooed that takes some of the pain out of the process: going under anesthesia.
Renowned tattoo artist Jose Contreras, who has tattooed celebrities like Post Malone, Ozuna and Odell Beckham Jr., recently found himself working with a team of tattoo artists — as well as anesthesiologists and nurses — to tattoo people’s skin during their sleep.
“[Celebrities] pay to go under anesthesia so they can do multiple tattoos in one session,” Contreras tells PEOPLE. “Imagine five tattoo artists working on your full back at once, so in seven hours you can get your full back. with no pain. You’ve just sunk in, you wake up, and your back is done. Imagine that.”
The artist, who is originally from Venezuela but now primarily resides in Texas (although he travels all over the world for work), tells PEOPLE that the team he works with in Los Angeles is the only time he encountered such a practice, and it’s one that even he thinks is a bit “crazy”.
“They actually go to a real clinic,” Contreras says of how the process works. “They’re actually with real anesthesiologists and nurses, almost like you’re having real surgery.”
Contreras has worked with a team of artists in this way on a number of celebrity clients, adding that sometimes more than 10 artists have inked a single person’s skin while being submitted.
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This method is obviously much more complicated than a typical visit to a tattoo parlour, which is why it requires medical supervision and deep pockets. People who undergo such appointments pay for all the work of the artists, plus the medical professionals and the establishment, as it does not take place in the standard place of business. Although the price may vary depending on the customer, it is surely quite high.
It also carries a greater risk than a standard tattoo appointment, as going under anesthesia is a medical procedure. Although underlying adverse effects are rare, according to the Mayo Clinic, it can happen. People also usually see sequelae such as drowsiness, nausea, or muscle pain. It is important to take this into account if getting a tattoo in this way is interesting and to discuss it with health professionals.
Anyone with a tattoo knows that aftercare is a big part of the process. Tattoos are an open wound that needs special attention until they are healed. This includes washing them and keeping them moisturized while your skin becomes crusty and dry. For someone doing so much work on their body at the same time, tracking can be quite difficult – and painful.
“It’s a lot for the body to handle,” says Contreras, adding that often the healthcare professional supervising the procedure would prescribe an antibiotic or painkiller to aid in the healing process on such a large area of skin. “Imagine four or five guys working on a body at the same time. It’s a lot to manage. Definitely, the next day is painful.”
Post Malone is one of Contreras’ most famous clients, and the artist worked on him while he was under anesthesia. A group of tattoo artists worked together, with Contreras focusing on a dragon’s eye and what he calls a few “filler” tattoos to take up some of the empty space on his skin.
“I really liked Post Malone, so for me it was a big check, like, ‘Oh yeah, I got to work on that guy,'” Contreras said. “It was kind of crazy to be able to work with him, also just because he’s a super nice guy. He always has fun. It’s almost like he’s known you forever, right away.”
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Traveling all over the world to tattoo, Contreras has seen a little bit of everything when it comes to people and tattoo trends – and celebrities may have fancier methods of getting tattoos, but ink trends do not. themselves are the same in all areas. On the upside, what Contreras calls “microrealism,” or tiny tattoos with lots of detail.
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These tattoos are not only trendy because they are beautiful, but also because they were not even physically possible until recent years, along with the improvement in tattoo technology. As tattoo equipment becomes more modern and smarter, tattoos can not only last longer, but they can be more precise. With the ability to get so much detail in a small space, people are flocking to get their own micro-realistic tattoos.
“Some people are afraid to get a tattoo for the first time and don’t want to do something too big,” Contreras told PEOPLE. “But they see these realistic tattoos that look so amazing – and they’re often bigger. Now they can get this amazing tattoo, but on a small scale. I feel like it’s something that’s becoming more and more popular right now.”
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Contreras specializes in larger pieces, especially animals – he’s known for doing lions and tigers – but like most expert artists, he can also ink a nice little tattoo with equal skill. Even he finds it fascinating to see how tattoo equipment improves over time, allowing him to hone his artistic skills.
“I’ve been tattooing all these years, and even for me sometimes I still think it’s so crazy that with needles and ink you can do this on real skin. crazy ?” said Contreras. “I don’t know, sometimes you get used to it and you don’t think about it too much, and that’s just natural. But sometimes you’re very happy with the result and you compare it with the photo, and you say to yourself, ‘Wow, it’s always crazy that you can put so much detail into real flesh.'”