Tattoos: What Makes Them Stay and Go Away

Geo Beats
  • About
  • Export
  • Add to
A tattoo is forever - until it gets professionally removed – and white blood cells have a lot to do with both.

A tattoo is forever - until it gets professionally removed. Going on or coming off it’s widely known to be painful experience, but have you ever wondered what it is that makes the ink so durable?

It all comes down to white blood cells.

The tattoo ink is injected into the second skin layer. Typically foreign objects are whisked away by white blood cells, but the particles in the pigments are just too big for them to carry.

That doesn’t mean the pigments never move. As people age, their skin folds change and pigments are displaced. This can result in fuzzy lines.

Other unwelcome changes like fading and distortion can be caused by changes in body shape. Blurring can occur in time if the ink was injected too far under the skin’s surface.

Unwanted tattoos are best removed by lasers, which work by breaking the big pigments into smaller pieces so the white blood cells can finally carry them away.

As tattoo parlors continue to proliferate, so do tattoo removal facilities. Before being slowed by the recession, one seller of removal lasers reported a 575 percent increase in business between 2000 and 2007.