How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?

How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?

The “so simple, it’s silly” explanation…

If you’ve researched the laser tattoo removal process at all, you’ve probably come across this explanation…“The laser targets the ink in the skin and breaks it up into tiny particles that your immune system then flushes out,” but how does your immune system flush out the ink? To put it very simply, let’s imagine the area of your tattoo as a rock quarry.

Think of Laser Tattoo Removal Like a Rock Quarry

The laser is like the dynamite used to break up the rock in the quarry. Once rock is broken up, mine trucks, think dump trucks, carry the rock out of the quarry. Imagine the part of the immune system that flushes out toxins (including broken up tattoo ink) is a fleet of dump trucks. Each dump truck arrives at the rock quarry and gets filled with crushed rock (shattered tattoo ink). Once full, the dump truck carries the rock out of the quarry for disposal.

The part of our immune system that could be compared to dump trucks is a specific type of white blood cell called a phagocyte. Tiny ink particles get picked up by the phagocytes and carried through your lymphatic system. The lymphatic system flushes out the ink as waste (perspiration, bowel movements, urine, etc). Just like a rock quarry only has so many mine trucks; your body only has so many phagocytes.

For this reason, laser tattoo removal is a process. It is necessary to allow time for the immune system’s “dump trucks” to haul away a good portion of the broken up ink before another laser treatment can be done. For this reason, we typically recommend at least 4 weeks between laser treatments.  Since this is a process, what is usually seen as you progress through treatments is a gradual fading of the tattoo as your body moves more and more ink out.

In a rock quarry, multiple dynamite blasts are needed to break up the rock. The same is true for laser tattoo removal. It is not possible for all of the ink to be broken up with just one laser treatment. New developments are being tested all the time, so who knows what the future holds!

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