HOW YOUR LYMPHATIC SYSTEM SUPPORTS LASER TATTOO REMOVAL
THE TATTOO PROCESS AND THE SKIN RESPONSE
Tattooing involves the placement of pigment into the skin's dermis, the layer of dermal tissue underlying the epidermis. As the ink is injected, the pigment is dispersed throughout both the epidermis and dermis. The immune system triggers a wound healing response, activating Phagocytes (white blood cells) to engulf the pigment particles through a process called phagocytosis. The implanted ink particles are extremely large, and the lymphatic system is unable to remove all the ink. As a result, as the skin heals the ink remains trapped within dermis by Macrophages, ultimately concentrating in a layer just below the dermis/epidermis boundary.
During the process of tattooing the surface layer of skin (epidermis) is damaged and as the skin heals it begins to flake away removing some of the surface ink. The new tattoo often appears to fade once the skin heals in the first few weeks however as new collagen forms it traps the remaining ink making the tattoo stable, but in the long term (decades) the pigment tends to migrate deeper into the dermis, the older tattoo looks faded, tattoo details are blurred and in some cases the tattoo is unrecognisable.
Fascinating new research from France sheds new light on how this works: Your skin cells soak up the pigment, then release it when they die for other cells to pick up. This cycle continues ad infinitum - the circle of tattooed life continues.
Tattoo pigment is released and recaptured by skin cells. Photo: Baranska et al., 2018
SO HOW DOES THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM GET INVOLVED?
Laser tattoo removal (insert link to blog HOW LASER TATTOO REMOVAL WORKS) is the concept and application of laser light being absorbed into a specific chromophore within the skin, in this case the chromophore is ink. The laser energy when applied to the tattoo, causes a photo-acoustic effect, which results in the ink being broken down into smaller particles, causing the target (tattoo pigment) to shatter instead of heat up. The ink can then be removed by the body’s natural immune system response or phagocytosis, which is then drained away via the lymphatics.
WHAT IS THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM?
The lymphatic system is made up of lymph or lymphatic fluid, lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels and collecting ducts. Each of these components perform a unique job when it comes to keeping us healthy and fighting infection.
When you start the laser tattoo removal process the lymphatic system and the cells of immunity such a macrophage quickly spring into action to remove the foreign particles and waste from the body, in this case ink.
The tiny particles of ink are engulfed by the cells of immunity, these damaged cells are absorbed by the lymphatic fluid which is then transported to the lymph nodes where it is filtered and cleansed of damaged cells. The lymphatic nodes are found in various parts of the body such as the armpits, groin and the throat. You may find these glands become slightly swollen after a laser tattoo removal session and you may feel a bit sluggish, this is perfectly normal and will soon settle within a few days.
WAYS TO SUPPORT HEALTHY FUNCTIONING OF THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM
Its important to stay healthy while having laser tattoo removal and give your body the best chance of eliminating the ink and seeing that unwanted tattoo fade fast! Thinking of fun ways to incorporate these simple steps into your daily life can give your immune system the support it needs.
Gently exercise such as walking, swimming, stretching, tai chi, yoga or re – bounding are effective ways to increase the circulation and the pumping action of the lymphatic vessels. Aim for at least 30 minutes daily and notice the difference.
Lymphatic massage is designed to gently support the lymphatic system to eliminate toxins and waste from the body, so go ahead and indulge, your body will thank you!
Staying hydrated is one of the key factors to improving the circulation and the health of the immune system. Aim for at least 8 glasses of pure filtered water daily and watch those toxins being flushed away. Dehydration leads to sluggish circulation and lymphatic system making these systems less efficient at eliminating ink.
Skin brushing not only helps to exfoliate dry skin, but it also helps to stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluid in the direction of the heart. Skin brushing daily will have your skin glowing and clearer in no time at all.
Diet and nutrition play an important role in the health and wellbeing of the body. Eating a well-balanced diet enriched with essential antioxidants, vitamins and minerals can boost the body’s efficiency when it comes to processing and eliminating toxins such as ink from the body. Make sure to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables such as beetroot and berries and stay away from harmful additives, colourings and flavorings that are hard for the body to process.
Rest, relax and reduce stress. Your body is working hard to repair and eliminate the ink particles right now so you may feel unusually tired for a day or two after your session. It’s important to allow your body time to heal and repair and it’s ok to allow yourself some extra TLC to optimize your results. It’s a well-documented fact that stress can impact the health of the immune system, taking a few long deep breaths not only relaxes you but it also fills the body with oxygen and regulates the heart rate.
We recommend waiting 2 – 3 days after your session before starting any exercise program.
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Author: Deborah Allen
11th July 2021