As artists specializing in permanent makeup, our goal is to work within the skin's dermal layer. Specifically, we target the placement of pigment in the uppermost part of the dermis, known as the papillary dermis, which is located just beneath the epidermis. It's critical to grasp the variations in skin thickness across different body areas, as this knowledge enables us to deliver more consistent outcomes. Additionally, it informs us when to modify the pressure applied and the depth at which the needle enters the skin.
During the process of implanting pigment into the skin, structures such as the epidermis, the junction between the epidermis and dermis, the papillary layer, and the reticular layer of the dermis are affected. The body's initial reaction to this kind of skin trauma involves several responses:
- It works to halt any bleeding.
- It directs tissue fluid to the affected area, leading to localized swelling.
- It mobilizes immune cells from other areas to the site of injury.
In the course of injecting ink into the dermal layer, a significant amount of the ink is integrated into the skin's collagen matrix, while some is absorbed by fibrocyte cells. Tattoo needles can puncture the skin anywhere from 50 to 3000 times per minute, which not only introduces a foreign substance but also causes trauma to the skin.
Normally, when our body senses trauma or foreign material, it triggers an immune response that includes inflammation. This inflammation involves white blood cells traveling to the site of injury to address the intrusion. This is what happens during tattooing: white blood cells exit the bloodstream and move through the tissue. These cells, known as macrophages, are specialized to consume or engulf foreign material such as viruses, bacteria, debris, and in this case, they also attempt to engulf the tattoo ink.
The process where a white blood cell consumes a substance is scientifically known as phagocytosis. When a white blood cell engulfs a substance, it typically starts to break it down and digest it. However, tattoo ink may contain elements like dyes, plastics, and metals, which are materials that our digestive system is not designed to process efficiently. Thus, the strategy employed by the body is to encapsulate and isolate the ink instead of degrading it. By doing so, it prevents the dispersion of ink to other parts of the body.