How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work

Before we learn how laser tattoo removal works, we need to know…

How is the ink applied during a tattoo?

First we need to understand exactly how the ink was applied to the skin in the first place. If you already know about this from prior research before you had your tattoo done, then feel free to ignore this part and skip to the next section.

When you get a tattoo a mechanised set of needles are rapidly moved up and down to puncture the first layer of the skin to allow for the ink to be injected into the dermis, the second layer of skin. The ink is applied to this second layer just below the epidermis. The ink stays in the second layer of skin and the first layer heals up, this is what makes tattoos ‘permanent’.
Now that we understand where think ink is located we can begin to look into ways of removing the ink.

How to remove a tattoo

How to remove a tattoo
If only it were this easy…

From a biological standpoint our bodies are trying to remove the ink via out blood. Specifically out white blood cells are the cells who’s job it is to remove toxic or alien substances from our body. White blood cells engulf the foreign bodies and transport them to your liver to be excreted. Thats the basics but to spare you the biology lesson we’ll leave it at that for now.

 

So why doesn’t our body remove tattoo ink for us?

 

Well the main issue is that the ink particles are too larger for the white blood cells to engulf the ink particles. There are some smaller particles that can be removed by the white blood cells and this happens gradually over time. This is the reason tattoos fade over time. However tattoos rarely fade completely because there are always some ink particles that are too large to remove.

How do lasers help remove tattoos?

In a nut shell, lasers help to remove tattoos by breaking these larger ink particles into smaller more easily digested particles.
In more detail, the lasers work by emitting various wavelengths of energy at the in particles via the first layer of skin. These wavelengths break the ink down into smaller particles. these paritcles are then removed by the bodies white blood cells via the lymphatic system and liver.
Here is a great clip to how you how this works. Thanks to Smarter Every Day for creating this awesome image.