All about the World of Pigment and Tattoo Removal
In order to discuss the world of Removal of Permanent makeup and tattoos, we first need to establish some misconceptions commonly thought in our industry.
Where is color injected into the skin?
Whenever I ask my students this question I get range of responses, some say epidermis some dermis I even heard hypodermis. So where is it injected then?
Lets first define the basic anatomy of each skin layer.
The epidermis has no blood supply and is nourished almost exclusively by diffused oxygen from the surrounding air.
The epidermis has four layers that perform different functions:
1. Stratum basale. This is the deepest layer of the epidermis, and it’s responsible for renewing the skin. This layer is mostly comprised of keratinocytes. Keratinocytes produce keratin, the protein that protects your skin from chemical products and bacteria. Keratinocytes slowly migrate from the basal layer up toward your skin’s surface, dividing and changing as they go.
Melanocytes are also found in the basal layer. Melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin and eyes their color. Melanin filters out ultraviolet radiation from the sun, protecting your skin from skin cancer and premature aging. Chronic exposure to light increases the number of melanocytes, so you have more on your face than your lower back, and more on your outer arm than your inner arm. Areas with fewer melanocytes (and therefore less melanin) are more vulnerable to sun damage, so don’t forget to apply sunscreen to those spots.
2. Stratum spinosum. Langerhans cells, which are part of your skin’s immune system, are located in this layer. Langerhans cells detect foreign substances and help prevent infection. They’re also involved in the development of allergies.
3. Stratum granulosum. Keratin and waterproofing lipids are produced and organized in this layer.
4. Stratum corneum. This outermost layer of the epidermis contains many cornified or horn-like keratinocytes. The stratum corneum is relatively waterproof and prevents most bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances from entering the body. This outermost layer of dead skin cells is constantly being shed. The movement of epidermal cells from the basal layer up to the top layer takes about 28 days, so your skin cells replace themselves monthly.
The stratum corneum is much thicker on body parts that require extra protection, such as the palms of your hands and soles of your feet. Your epidermis ranges in thickness from .05 mm on your eyelids to 0.8-1.5 mm on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet.
We can understand that in Permanent makeup and tattoo we therefore penetrate the Dermis layer.
Where in the Dermis layer we penetrate?
There is no straight answer as it mainly depends on the artist, and the location in the body or face that we work on. As discussed above, some areas have thinner epidermal layer, which means it is ‘easier’ to reach the dermis layer, and unless your work is more superficial you can easily reach the reticular dermis.
The best way to know whether you went too deep is when your result heals very cool (grey/blue color) regardless to the color you used for the treatment. The other indication is the amount of blood you are seeing while working, correct work means you only see a drop of blood, if you have strains of blood coming out it means you cut the capillary and therefore means you went too deep.
To conclude a successful permanent makeup treatment aims to penetrate the papillary region in the dermis layer.