SmarterEveryDay gives us the low down on the tattoo removal process in this fascinating video. Science is cool.
This is what tattoo ink looks like under a microscope. There are larger ink chunks and smaller ones. The small ones are easily broken down by white blood cells, which view the ink as an unwanted intruder.
From the moment the tattoo is placed, your body is trying to get rid of it. Your white blood cells literally try to eat the ink, but are too small to engulf the big chunks. Only the smaller particles get eaten and that's why tattoos fade over time.
So when you hit your tattoo with a laser, it breaks the bigger ink chunks down into smaller particles that your blood cells can munch on and carry away.
This is what it looks like to laser a tattoo. The white effect is called "frosting" and only lasts for a few seconds, as it's a shock wave through the skin layers. Neat!