100 Best Sternum Tattoos That Will Source Your Inner Power

Last update: September 14, 2023

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Sternum tattoos are a popular body art trend among both men and women. These tattoos are placed on the breastbone, between the collarbones, and can be a powerful and meaningful addition to one's tattoo collection. This article will explore the symbolism, meaning, and top ideas behind sternum tattoos, who should consider getting one, the history and origin of this unique tattoo placement, and answers to some frequently asked questions about sternum tattoos.

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What Does The Sternum Area Symbolize?

The sternum, or breastbone, in itself, does not generally carry specific symbolism for women or men in many cultures. However, it is an integral part of the chest area and closely associated with the breasts, which do carry significant cultural and symbolic meanings, especially for women.

In many cultures, breasts symbolize motherhood, nurturing, and femininity due to their role in breastfeeding. They are often viewed as a symbol of fertility and female identity.

In the context of spiritual practices like yoga, the sternum is near the location of the heart chakra, or Anahata. In these practices, this energy center is associated with feelings of love, compassion, and empathy, which some people may consider to be particularly relevant for women given societal norms and expectations.

However, it's important to note that these interpretations are generalizations and may not resonate with or apply to every woman. Symbolism can vary greatly among individuals and cultures, and everyone's experiences and beliefs are unique.

What is the meaning behind sternum tattoos?

The meaning behind sternum tattoos can vary greatly depending on the individual, their personal experiences, beliefs, and the design they choose. Here are a few general interpretations:

Expression of Femininity: The sternum area, being close to the breasts, can be a location where women choose to get tattoos to express femininity, sensuality, or empowerment.

Symbol of Strength: Given that the sternum is a protective bone shielding the heart and lungs, a sternum tattoo could symbolize strength and resilience.

Spirituality: Since the sternum is near the location of the "heart chakra" in some spiritual traditions, a sternum tattoo might represent love, compassion, or spiritual connection.

Aesthetic Appeal: The sternum is an attractive and popular place to get a tattoo, and the curving lines of a design can complement the natural curves of the body. Therefore, some people may choose a sternum tattoo purely for its aesthetic appeal.

Personal Meaning: Like any tattoo, a sternum tattoo could hold a personal meaning for the individual wearing it, symbolizing anything from a significant life event to a loved one or an important personal value or belief.

As with any tattoo, the specific meaning will largely depend on the individual and the particular design they choose.

best sternum tattoo ideas and their meanings

Choosing the right design for a sternum tattoo can be a deeply personal journey. The design needs to not only be visually appealing but also carry a significant meaning or symbolism for the individual. This guide explores a variety of popular sternum tattoo design themes and their commonly associated meanings, ranging from floral motifs to sacred geometry patterns. Below we've selected the best ones in our opinion:

Floral Design Sternum Tattoos

Floral designs are particularly popular for sternum tattoos, offering a blend of beauty and femininity. The variety of flowers allows for a range of symbolism. For instance, a rose often denotes love and beauty, while a lotus could symbolize purity and spiritual awakening.

Floral Design Sternum Tattoos

Mandala Sternum Tattoos

Originating in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, mandalas are a frequent choice for sternum tattoos. They are seen as representing the universe, balance, and unity. As a sternum tattoo, a mandala could symbolize personal harmony and completeness.

Mandala Sternum Tattoos

Moth or Butterfly Sternum Tattoos

Moths and butterflies represent significant transformation throughout their lifespan, making them suitable symbols for growth, change, and metamorphosis. Their inherent beauty and fragility add an aesthetically appealing element to the sternum tattoo design.

Moth Or Butterfly Sternum Tattoos

Bird Sternum Tattoos

Birds, especially in flight, often symbolize freedom, independence, and aspiration. Specific birds also carry unique symbolism – for instance, phoenixes can represent rebirth and resilience, while doves might symbolize peace and love.

Bird Sternum Tattoos

Celestial Sternum Tattoos

Celestial designs, like stars, moons, planets, and constellations, often carry deep meanings and symbolism. They can symbolize destiny, mystery, dreams, or our place in the universe. Celestial tattoos can also represent light in the darkness, guidance, or a fascination with the cosmos.

Celestial Sternum Tattoos

Who should get a sternum tattoo?

A sternum tattoo can be a great choice for anyone looking for a unique and personally meaningful piece of body art. However, certain factors may make it a particularly appealing option for some individuals:

People Looking for Concealable Tattoos: The sternum area can easily be covered with clothing, which makes it an ideal location for those who want to have a tattoo that can be discreetly hidden for professional or personal reasons.

Individuals Comfortable with Pain: It's worth noting that the sternum, being close to the bone and sensitive skin, is known to be a more painful area to get tattooed. Those who have a high pain tolerance or are comfortable with the tattooing process might be more inclined to choose this area.

Those Seeking a Personal Symbol: Given its proximity to the heart, the sternum can be a significant location for a tattoo that has a deep personal meaning, or symbolizes protection, strength, or love.

People Who Appreciate Unique Tattoo Locations: A sternum tattoo can be a distinctive choice for individuals who wish to stand out from more common tattoo placements like the arms or back.

It's important to have a discussion with a professional tattoo artist before making a decision. They can provide guidance on suitable designs, pain management, and the care needed for a sternum tattoo.

General Breakdown Of Tattoo Pain Levels On Different Body Parts

Here is a breakdown of the different tattoo pain levels:

  • Low: This level of pain is generally described as a mild discomfort or tickling sensation. It is similar to the sensation of getting a light scratch or scrape.
  • Moderate: This level of pain is generally described as a moderate discomfort or aching sensation. It is similar to the sensation of getting a deep scratch or scrape or being pinched.
  • High: This level of pain is generally described as a strong discomfort or throbbing sensation. It is similar to the sensation of getting a burn or being stung by a bee.

It's important to note that pain tolerance is highly individual and can vary greatly from person to person. Some people may find certain body parts more or less painful than others, and the same body part can be more or less painful for different people. Additionally, the level of pain can be affected by factors such as the size and location of the tattoo, the skill of the tattoo artist, and the individual's own pain threshold.

Tattoo placement pain level chart

Body Part

Pain Level




The forehead has few nerve endings, so it is not a particularly painful area.



The eyebrows have few nerve endings, so the pain level is relatively low.



The ear is a relatively thin and fleshy area, so the pain level is low.



The nostril is a small area with thin skin, so the pain level is low.


Low to Moderate

The lip has more nerve endings than some other areas, so it may be slightly more painful.


Low to Moderate

The cheek has a moderate amount of nerve endings, so it may be slightly more painful.



The neck has a moderate amount of nerve endings, so it may be slightly more painful.


Moderate to High

The chest has a high concentration of nerve endings, so it can be quite painful.



The abdomen has a high concentration of nerve endings, so it can be quite painful.



The back has a high concentration of nerve endings, so it can be quite painful.



The shoulders have a high concentration of nerve endings, so they can be quite painful.

Upper Arms

Moderate to High

The upper arms have a moderate to high concentration of nerve endings, so they can be somewhat painful.



The elbows have a high concentration of nerve endings, so they can be quite painful.



The forearms have a moderate concentration of nerve endings, so they are not as painful as some other areas.



The hands have a high concentration of nerve endings, so they can be quite painful.

Lower Arms

Low to Moderate

The lower arms have a lower concentration of nerve endings, so they are not as painful as some other areas.



The wrists have a low concentration of nerve endings, so they are not very painful.

Lower Back


The lower back has a high concentration of nerve endings, so it can be quite painful.



The buttocks have a high concentration of nerve endings, so they can be quite painful.



The thighs have a high concentration of nerve endings, so they can be quite painful.



The knees have a high concentration of nerve endings, so they can be quite painful.


Low to Moderate

The calves have a low to moderate concentration of nerve endings, so they are not as painful as some other areas.



The ankles have a low concentration of nerve endings, so they are not very painful.

Tattoo aftercare tips

Before getting a tattoo:

  1. Choose a reputable tattoo artist and parlor. Research the artist's portfolio and read reviews from previous clients.

  2. Consult with the artist about the design and placement of the tattoo.

  3. Make sure you are in good health. If you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications that may affect your ability to heal, be sure to let your tattoo artist know.

  4. Consider using a numbing cream to reduce pain during the tattooing process. These creams contain a numbing agent (such as lidocaine) that can be applied to the skin before the tattoo is done. It's important to follow the instructions on the numbing cream and to only use it as directed.

  5. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and other substances that can thin your blood for at least 24 hours before getting a tattoo.

  6. Eat a healthy meal before your tattoo session to ensure that your blood sugar is stable.

  7. Wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows easy access to the area being tattooed.

After getting a tattoo:

  1. Follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist. These may include:

  • Keeping the tattoo clean and covered with a bandage for the first few hours after getting tattooed.

  • Washing the tattoo with lukewarm water and a mild soap (such as unscented, antimicrobial soap) and patting it dry with a clean towel.

  • Applying a thin layer of tattoo ointment or lotion (such as A&D or Aquaphor) to the tattoo and covering it with a clean bandage or wrap.

  • Repeating this process for the first few days, or until the tattoo has fully scabbed over.

  1. Avoid soaking the tattoo in water for the first week, such as in a bath or pool.

  2. Avoid picking or scratching at the scabs, as this can cause the tattoo to fade or become infected.

  3. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight or tanning beds for at least 2-4 weeks.

  4. If you experience any redness, swelling, or unusual discharge, contact your tattoo artist or a healthcare professional.

Overall, it's important to keep your tattoo clean and moisturized during the healing process to ensure that it heals properly and looks its best. Using a numbing cream can help reduce pain during the tattooing process, but it's important to use it as directed and to follow all aftercare instructions to ensure that your tattoo heals properly.

People Also Ask:

Is a sternum tattoo painful?

A sternum tattoo can be painful, as the breastbone is a sensitive area. The area around the breastbone has a relatively low amount of fatty tissue and muscle, which means that the needle will be closer to the bone and can cause more pain than other areas of the body. Additionally, the skin over the sternum is relatively thin, which can also contribute to the pain. However, everyone's pain tolerance is different, and some people may find the pain tolerable while others may find it unbearable.

What are the best designs for sternum tattoos?

The best designs for sternum tattoos are subjective, as different people will have different preferences. However, some popular designs for sternum tattoos include flowers, wolves, stars, mandalas, and tribal patterns. These designs are popular for their symbolic meanings. It's also important to remember that designs will differ depending on the size you want for your tattoo, as bigger designs could get more complex.

How should I care for my sternum tattoo?

Proper care for a new sternum tattoo is important to promote healing and prevent infection. These steps include:

  • Keep the tattoo clean with mild soap and warm water

  • Apply a thin layer of a fragrance-free and dye-free lotion or ointment over the tattoo

  • Keep the tattoo covered with a sterile bandage for the first 24 hours

  • Avoid exposure to direct sunlight, sea, chlorine, and other irritants.

  • Avoid vigorous exercise, sweating, and tight clothing for the first 2-3 days

  • Clean the tattoo when changing clothes and keep it dry for the first days

  • Avoid picking and scratching at the tattoo

  • Repeat the process for at least 2-3 weeks or until it heals.

Can I breastfeed with a sternum tattoo?

Getting a sternum tattoo is not recommended if you plan to breastfeed in the future, as the tattoo ink can potentially harm a newborn baby. There is also a risk of infection during the healing process that could affect the ability to breastfeed. If you are nursing or planning to in the future, it's best to avoid getting tattoos in or near the breast area.

How long does a sternum tattoo take to heal?

Sternum tattoos can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to fully heal, depending on the size and complexity of the tattoo. However, it can take up to 8 weeks for some tattoos. During this time, following proper aftercare instructions is essential to ensure that your tattoo heals properly and with minimal scabbing or scarring. It's also important to avoid exposure to sunlight, sweat, and harsh chemicals during the healing process.

Watch A video of a sternum tattoo done by a pro

200+ sternum tattoo Ideas For Your Inspiration

Final thoughts:

Sternum tattoos are a powerful and meaningful way to express oneself. The breastbone, also known as the sternum, is often associated with protection, strength, and courage. The meaning behind a sternum tattoo can be personal, and many choose designs that reflect their passions, beliefs, or values. However, before getting a sternum tattoo, it is important to be prepared.

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