Tattoo removal is most commonly performed using lasers that break down the ink particles in the tattoo into smaller particles. Dermal macrophages are part of the immune system, tasked with collecting and digesting cellular debris. In the case of tattoo pigments, macrophages collect ink pigments, but have difficulty breaking them down. Instead, they store the ink pigments. If a macrophage is damaged, it releases its captive ink, which is taken up by other macrophages. This can make it particularly difficult to remove tattoos. When treatments break down ink particles into smaller pieces, macrophages can more easily remove them.
Not all tattoos are created equal. “Black tattoos are easier to remove than brightly colored tattoos. Green and blue tend to be a little more challenging, and things like yellow, white, and purple are almost impossible to remove completely,” says Dr. Ibrahim. “Different wavelengths of laser target different colors in the skin,” says Dr. Bard. This is why multiple lasers are required for the successful removal of a multicolor tattoo—another reason to see a well-versed doctor for treatment. If you have laser removal done properly, you should see about 90 percent clearance on a tattoo, says Dr. Anolik. “You can’t be sure that you’re going to get 100 percent clearance on a tattoo, and that’s for a variety of reasons, including the type of ink and if [the tattoo] was done by a professional tattoo parlor," he says. "Professional tattoos tend to incorporate more colors and deposit more deeply into the dermis, making them more challenging." Amateur tattoos tend to be easier to remove, as they are often carbon-based, single-color, and placed more superficially. Dr. Ibrahim says the same goes for older tattoos, where the ink diffuses upward over time, making it easier to break up with a laser.
You might have noticed a tattoo trend taking shape that looks simple yet mesmerizing at the same time: geometric tattoos. The simplicity comes from the use of common shapes – lines, circles, squares, triangles. These shapes are repeated in captivating, detailed patterns to form a specific design. You can create anything from abstract designs to geometric renditions of images, such as animals and elements in nature. Add more dimension by choosing thick or thin lines, and a range of colours. Welcome to the world of geometric tattoos.