The Tattoo Bedtime Story
Dear Bossy’s Children Over 18 Who May Secretly Be Considering A Tattoo,
Once upon a time in a land behind the bus station, there lived a tattoo that was trapped in a series of no-spill ink cups containing the colors of a crime scene.
Until one day when you, a child who is actually an adult, may suddenly decide it’s time for this tattoo to be injected into your precious body that your mother built.
And that’s when a cool tattoo artist holding a rotary tattoo gun dips the needle cartridge containing up to 25 individual needles, into the ink cup. Then, pressing the foot switch motor to the on position, the big bad needles move up and down at a speed of up to 3,000 times a minute, drawing the ink up into the rotary reservoir.
The cool tattoo artist then hovers over your flawless epidermis, which is sporting an impermanent tattoo stencil, placed ever so unfortunately off-center.
Next the cool tattoo artist — who, by the way, isn’t one drop cooler than the pediatrician tasked with administering your childhood immunizations — places the quickly pulsing needles into your body part, past the epidermis to the upper part of the dermis where the ink is released.
In the process, the many poky needles cause damage to the epidermis and dermis — so your body will need to heal itself by shedding the damaged epidermis skin, and by racing white blood cells to the dermis layer, which is the layer of skin containing collagen, glands, blood vessels, and the nerves you didn’t know were there until the tattoo.
The white blood cells are called phagocytes, and they get busy ingesting what they consider to be a foreign body — the tattoo ink. Some phagocyte cells will travel through your lymph system where they are introduced to your virgin liver with questionable implications. The majority of white blood cells, however, remain stationary — and you’ll want to remember their name since they will be working right there under your skin for eternity: macrophages.
As the wounds from your tattoo heal, the granulation tissue of the dermis forms into connective tissue, imprisoning your tattoo within your macrophages. Unfortunately, the tattoo ink granules are too big for the macrophages to break down, although they will all die trying! And when each macrophage dies, it vomits all of those ink granules out again — where they are quickly eaten by a new macrophage.
So it’s not the tattoo you are seeing on your arm, but rather the tattoo as it sits in the belly of the hardest working macrophages in show business. After many years, your tattoo won’t so much innocently fade from something sweet like the sun, but rather migrate deeper into your dermis, where the macrophage continually binge and purge happily ever after while you try to get any kind of sleep.