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How tattoos are made

To understand how tattoo removal works, it is helpful to first understand how a tattoo is made.The top layer of the skin is called the epidermis, below this are the dermis and the subcutaneous (or subdermis) layers. These are represented in the figure to the right.

A tattoo is made by inserting a pigment into the dermis. If the pigment were to go into the epidermis it would soon disappear as this layer of the skin naturally flakes off. A tattoo can be made with a needle and ink by hand, but most professionals use a tattoo machine that applies the ink at a consistent depth. It is like a sewing machine in that it rapidly moves the needle up and down, however it applies ink instead of thread!

Since the epidermis is translucent, the tattoo design shows clearly.

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