You loved your tattoo at one time, but now, not so much. It may remind you of a part of your life you’d like to forget, and you’re ready to move forward. Perhaps you have the name of an old lover on your arm, but you broke up years ago.
Learning more about how tattoos work is helpful whether you’re thinking of getting a tattoo or thinking of having one removed. Our board-certified physician, Kenneth Thompson, MD, and our trained medical aestheticians at A Beautiful You Medical Spa are specialists in tattoo removal.
Here’s some helpful information we’ve put together about how tattoos work.
How do tattoos work?
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. The epidermis is the outer layer of skin visible to the eye. It looks fragile, but in reality, it has to be tough. It protects you from infections when you brush up against all kinds of objects laden with bacteria, from your pet’s tongue to a greasy pan to dirt in your garden.
The next layer of skin is the dermis, which holds the hair follicles, blood vessels, and sweat glands. The third and final layer of skin is subcutaneous fat that connects the dermis to your bones and muscles.
When you were tattooed, the tattoo artist moved through the epidermis to the dermis. Naturally, your body perceived a threat from an outsider entity. Your white blood cells rushed to the area, causing redness, swelling, and inflammation to try to dislodge the foreign substance.
The tattoo ink is a larger substance than your blood cells. While some of them slough off while you heal, most of the ink stays deep in your dermis.
When the needle moves into your dermis, the ink is sucked into the tiny wound made by the needle. Its molecules are attracted to the skin. It moves through the wound as fluid and is set into the dermis. The dermis is very stable; it doesn’t flake off like your epidermis does.
A professional tattoo machine makes tiny punctures of between 50 to 3,000 times per minute. A drop of ink goes into your dermis each time.
To remove your old tattoo, we use modern technology: the Q-Switch ND 1064 Laser. The laser can remove the old ink without harming your skin. You can have your unmarked skin back. We can adjust the laser to your type of skin and the colors of your tattoo.