The biggest complaint about tattoos is their permanency, but that’s not strictly true. Tattoos can be removed, but unfortunately the process is long, painful and expensive.
So how does tattoo removal actually work? Well, saddle up people, because here’s your first science lesson of the day…
Tattoo ink is an invader
Your white blood cells see the ink as a foreign invader (which it is), and your immune system goes about the task of getting rid of the intruder.
The ink particles that are injected into your skin come in all shapes and sizes, and the smaller ones end up being eaten by your white blood cells.
The larger ones, well there’s nothing the white blood cells can do with those, so they’re just left there.
This is why tattoos fade over time – there literally isn’t as much ink as there was originally.
This is where the laser comes in.
Using short pulses of intense light, the laser literally bursts the bigger ink pigments into smaller fragments, breaking them up enough for the white blood cells to move in and finish them off.
Your body’s natural immune process take over, with the ink passing through your blood, liver and eventually out of the body through urine.
Are there any risks with laser tattoo removal?
Tattoo removal is relatively risk-free, although as with all medical procedures, there can be side effects. Risks may include redness and swelling or the treated area.
The treatment itself makes a popping noise as the laser “pops” the ink pigments under your skin, which is scarier to hear than to feel.
Much like getting a tattoo in the first place, the pain felt varies from person to person. Most people liken it to having a rubber band snapped against their arm.