We’ve all heard the negatives associated with tattoos — they hurt, they can influence potential employer perceptions, they can lead to regret and painful removal, the list goes on and on. But science just scored one major point for the positives associated with body art that may have you rethinking your doubts.

A newly published study in the American Journal of Human Biology by researchers at the University of Alabama has discovered that getting tattoos can not only enhance your outward appearance, but your inner health, as well.

The study, which looked at 24 women and five men between the ages of 18 and 47, tested the saliva of participants for immunoglobin (the antibody that helps you fight illnesses like colds) and cortisol (a stress-related hormone that can lower your immune system) both before and after getting body art.

Their findings suggested that while the experience initially suppressed the body’s immune system due to stress, over time, it actually made it stronger, as those who got repeat tattoos were likely to see a decline in the negative affect a new tattoo had on their systems (similar to what one might see following a vaccination).

Researchers surmised that their repeat tattoo participants had both begun to build a tolerance for the cortisol levels that spiked during the inking process, and that their cortisol levels in general may have dropped due to lessening of anxiety with experience.

While results were more likely to be seen with larger pieces (the daintily inked among us weren’t as likely to see much of a change) and were subject to limitations (participants were largely unvaried with regard to race, class, and education), it’s still a rather intriguing thought, no?

We, for one, will surely be using this as an excuse to finally book that feminist tattoo appointment.

Does this change your viewpoint on tattoos? Tell us over @BritandCo.

(h/t Marie Claire, photos via F. Roy Kemp + Getty)