Pigment is any colored tissue found in the human body. The body contains pigment in the eyes, hair, and skin. During the tattoo process, pigment is injected into the dermis layer of the skin, giving it a different color. Altering the skin’s pigment is what allows the tattoo ink to show through and depict an image.
It’s this pigment that is targeted during laser tattoo removal. Lasers are able to target pigment in the dermis layer without damaging the epidermis, or skin. New laser technology allows lasers to do this because they provide longer wavelengths that bypass the epidermis altogether. In the past, lasers would injure the skin during removal of the pigment.
The body considers the tattoo pigment a foreign object, so it works to remove it. By targeting the pigment with a medical laser, the pigment is broken up into tinier pieces, making it easier for the immune system to eliminate and drastically increasing the rate of fading. Pigment eventually returns to its natural color when complete tattoo removal is achieved.