Everyone knows that a tattoo is as good as permanent, if it is not removed in drastic ways, it will remain there until your death. But how exactly does this happen? It is a question many ask, but few can answer.
First of all, it is the easiest to explain where the ink is being put. The skin consists of 3 layers, the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous connective tissue. The epidermis is the part of the skin that renews itself daily and therefore peels. It is therefore not practical to put ink in this layer. The layer underneath, namely the dermis consists of close connective tissue and is therefore much more stable. It is therefore the intention to put the ink just in this layer of the skin, in order to guarantee a permanent result. The ink enters the body only two millimeters deep, but even half a millimeter too little can ensure that no tattoo remains after healing. Too deep on the other hand ensures that the ink ends up in a part where it is easier for the ink to migrate and therefore will not guarantee a neat tattoo over time.
To put the ink in the skin, a tattoo artist will use a certain needle grouping. Needles are assembled by joining 1 to 24 and een more small needles to create a certain thickness. Every time the needle is pushed into the skin, a fraction of ink will be carried between these needles and ink will thus be built up in the right skin layer.
Once the ink is in the upper layer of the dermis, it will not just stay here by itself, of course. This requires the help of the natural immune system. No matter how crazy it may sound, eventually the immune system will ensure that the tattoo stays where it is injected. By creating a wound (puncturing the skin with the needles) and injecting foreign substances (the ink), the immune system will come into action and of course will use defenses to restore the body. The smallest ink particles are discharged via the lymph system and will eventually be broken down by the liver. Larger ink particles, however, can not just be transported and will thus be absorbed by the defense mechanisms and remain in this place. It is only when the particles are reduced by, for example, sunrays or laser removal, that they become small enough to be drained and thus will fade the tattoo.
Because this immune system will do everything to remove the foreign substances, it takes a while before the tattoo is fully settled. Usually it is assumed that a new tattoo is at it’s best after approximately 6 months, of course if enough care has been taken.
Although it can sometimes feel as if a tattoo goes through marrow and bone, in reality it only goes a few millimeters deep.