You may have felt the regret that sometimes accompanies a mixture of alcohol, impulsive behavior, and a conveniently-located tattoo parlor. Or maybe your artist fudged one of 2015’s trendy watercolor tattoos. If the time has come to erase a dermatological mistake, laser tattoo removal is the answer. But how does it work?
It helps to understand how tattoos become permanent fixtures under your epidermis in the first place. As a stabbing tattoo needle plunges under the top layer of skin, it injects tiny ink particles; those particles are considered a foreign invader by your body, which attempts to marshal forces of white blood cells to address the perceived threat. But the ink particles are too big, and so they remain—mostly. Over time, the particles can break down, allowing the body to carry them off bit by bit. It’s why tattoos can begin to fade after a few years. Unfortunately, that's not fast enough for some poorly-rendered markings.
Lasers speed up this process. The light breaks up the pigment, allowing the body to do what it wanted to do in the first place, which was to get rid of your pocket watch tattoo as quickly as possible. Because the laser is adjusted for different color pigments, it won’t etch away your natural skin color.
Once the pigment particles have been carried off, your lymphatic system takes care of the rest. The remnants of your mistake are routed to the liver, where it can be processed as waste. Technically, that means your tattoo will eventually be pooped out and your questionable judgment flushed away.
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