Pigment Turnover In Scalp Micropigmentation

The implications of the depth of pigment placement is a very important topic for both patient and beginner artist. This factor is mostly responsible for creating an undetectable illusion of hair stubbles. The quantity of residual pigment in the first several days after treatment is the most accurate measure of pigment placement sufficiency. This phenomenon is explained by the natural layered system of skin:

  • Epidermis (0.5-1.5mm)
  1. Stratum corneum
  2. Stratum granulosum
  3. Stratum spinosum
  4. Stratum basale
  •  Dermis

The highest efficiency is achieved by placing the pigment in the upper layers of dermis, which is explained by peculiarities of other skin cells layers. The two upper layers of epidermis, both Stratum corneum and Stratum granulosum, work as immediate barriers for the infection and foreign bodies in order to maintain high level of skin protection. With Stratum spinosum being the most extended layer, the microscopic canal made by tattoo needle fills cells with pigment mostly in this layer. The cells of stratum basale are the lowest of the epidermis and the most protected by the other layers, yet the loss of pigment on all levels of epidermis is very high.

The first reason for pigment instability in the epidermis is constant migration of skin cells to the upper layers. The migration starts due to the cells of the stratum basale being mitotically active and their moving towards the skin surface throughout their life cycle. The migrating cells contain the particles of residual pigment and then exfoliate naturally as they reach the upper level, thus eventually all the pigment has been pushed upwards from the epidermis and all the epidermis layers will be rid of the pigment particles.

The second reason for the epidermal pigment loss is the activity of phagocytic cells. Being on watch for the wellbeing of the immune system, these cells absorb and neutralize the foreign elements in the tissues, minimizing the threat of infection. The residual pigment particles from stratum basale are eliminated by various types of phagocytic cells that are most active on this layer. Pigment particles on the dermis level can also be seized by phagocytic cells, but since the latter concentrate mostly on the epidermal-dermal border, the only remaining pigment is the one originally placed in the superficial dermis.


source link of photo: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-stratum-corneum.htm

Within several days the residual pigment from stratum corneum washes away completely at thepatient’s first hair wash, as well as the extravasation (a bleeding amalgam) of the pigment on the surface. The amount and speed of the pigment being absorbed by the body’s lymphatic system varies for each patient, normally taking up to one month. The full turnover of stratum corneum happens within approximately four weeks, thus bearing in mind the speed of basal layer cells migration, we can expect all the pigment from the epidermis to be expelled in a couple of months. The biopsy taken after four months from the patients forty years old show no presence of pigment particles in epidermis, though they can still be found in dermal fibroblasts that replaced the granulation tissue of the micro wounds left by the tattoo needle,  both intracellularly and extracellularly.

The depth of the stratum basale from the stratum corneum varies in different areas of the scalp which complicates manual depth control of the pigment placement in the superficial dermis and can cause pigment leakage. After one month, the elimination of the pigment particles in stratum spinosum through cell migration is still not over and the pigment particles are present in fibroblasts, keratinocytes and macrophages. That is why the patient can see some color changes in the tattooed scalp shortly after the procedure and follow-up visits are needed. Other factors that can change the appearance of the tattooed scalp are extravasation and exposure to ultraviolet rays.

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