Skin layers question

Here’s a question for someone who knows anatomy, and probably for body modification professionals / enthusiasts also:

In super-simplistic terms, I understand the skin is composed of the epidermis (~0.2 mm thick, made up of “dried up” dermis cells that have been “pushed up”), dermis (~0.9 mm thick), and then hypodermis (connective tissue).

Our implants go into the latter.

Question #1: What happens if you intentionally implant something in the dermis?

Conventional wisdom says the implant is eventually pushed out of the body. I’m assuming this is because of the “elevator” effect in the outermost layers of skin, whereby deeper dermis cells move upward to renew the epidermis, taking the misplaced implant with them.

Is this what happens? Does it always happen?

Question #2: if stuff implanted in the dermis gets ejected out of the body, how come tattoo pigments stay there forever? They’re foreign objects too after all, albeit very small.


Huh… that’s an interesting thought I never considered

I know your immune system interacts with tattoo ink, trying to absorb/eat the ink particles but they are too large… and supposedly this is how laser removal sort of works, but lasering the ink, it breaks it up to small enough particles that your immune system can eat/absorb


Answer 1: I have to say I’m not all too sure where the implant would go, Seeing as Microdermal implants are anchored in the dermis and not the hypodermis… but dermals have a tendency to not last more than a few years… I am not sure if that has to do with the aforementioned “elevator” of the dermis to the epidermis or what. so I would say probably? it would reject.

Answer 2: The way our bodies work with tattoos are pretty amazing when ink is injected into the dermis, an immune system cell called the Macrophages. These guys eat the ink, and are now too big to leave the dermis, but how does it not get pushed up? well, that’s the cool thing! when Macrophages die, they spit the ink out and a new Macrophages cell comes to eat it up again! we call that the release-recapture cycle and it is how most ink stays in our system (obviously like the concept of energy transfer, some ink is lost in the process and is why our tattoos do start to fade)

Laser Tattoo removal actually uses a pulse that breaks down that ink as eriequite said.

EDIT: god my integumentary system teacher would be mad at me rn XD devilclarke is right, the epidermis forms new layers inside itself, whereas the dermis does not undergo this transformation. I’m not sure what would happen then. I guess the anchor of a microdermal implant goes through the epidermis so that’s why it rejects.

Also another link to tattoos:,layer%20of%20skin%2C%20the%20dermis.&text=Since%20the%20macrophages%20can’t,locked%20away%20in%20their%20vacuoles.


Isnt new skin only created at the very top of the dermis layer i.e. its not the whole layer that moves but the junction where new cells grow.
If im correct in that statment then it is because tattoo ink is inserted deeper into the dermis than the new cell layer/boundary.

EDIT: interesting pop science post about how tattoos work.,them%20in%20the%20blood%20stream.

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i have a feeling that article is out of date (2011) whereas the discovery of the macrophages cell linking with tattoos became knowledge in around 2018 -

See im too old :sweat_smile:

Honstely, for someone who’s that enthusiastical about bodmods, I know pretty little about the skin itself - I know where to cut it, where to punch it, and how it behaves afterwards, but not so much about the different layers. But if Rosco is right with the thickness of the different skin layers, microdermals are definitely anchored below the dermis - the bar is longer than 1,1mm. And I think that’s the trick about them, to put them below that so they can anchor well. Problem, and reason for rejection, is that they are easily infected, and infected stuff gets pushed out more easily by the body.

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interesting, i know very little about dermals, im not sure where I read it only being in the dermis, hmmm

Thanks for the answers you guys! Very enlightening.

Besides plain curiosity, there was actually a point in my questions. I’ve been wondering if there’d a way to implant passively-visible technological objects in the skin. Seeing as though subdermals are too deep to be visible if they don’t emit light by themselves, such objects would have to go in the dermis - and that’s pretty damn close to the surface, so said objects would have to be very small.

I’m thinking tiny glass beads with some kind of ferrofluid inside that changes color when it’s exposed to a magnetic field - and keeps it when the field is removed. Kind of like e-ink, but I don’t think e-ink would work because the beads are oriented using an electric field, and beside the difficulty of implanting a hypothetical backplane behind the beads that connects to something on the outside, the body is one giant ionized short circuit.

Anyway, just thinking aloud…


If they’re thick enough, they are very visible - that’s not the problem… But I think you refer to different colours? I’m honestly not sure… every silicone implant I know about is the standard-whiteish-silicone colour - I don’t know if it would be visible if you’d implant a solid blue silicone thingy.
Ah, the colour of solid steel implants or titanium is not visible at all, just came to my mind…

Seeing how thin the dermis is, I would think it might be very difficult to implant something there… except for putting it in with a tattoo machine or by handpoking, but that would limit the size a lot…

I really like the idea of being a kind of colour-shifter. I guess I’d totally do that (provided it’s a bit safe… at least^^), but I have no clue on how one could achieve that…

Or I just misunderstood you completely. If that’s the case, just ignore my ramblings :smile:

I’m trying to think of some simple and safe way to make a passive changeable underskin display of some kind, that more intelligent and more knowledgeable people than me have probably been thinking about long and hard already. I sometimes get what I want by thinking laterally and hitting upon something really obvious in retrospect that others have missed somehow. That’s what I’m doing now.

I had implant installed in my dermis. Scare formed around. Apart from that, nothing special in my case.
Needed to remove tissue to create pocket, rather then elevate / separate.

Interesting. Not sure what you mean by “remove tissue”: can you explain?

Also, can I bother you with a photograph? I’m curious to see how it contrasts with the surrounding skin there - if it does at all.

Curious me would like to know what kind of implant - and why? If that’s not too private, of course. Just never heard about implants in the dermis… :wink:

I implanted one 2 minutes ago: it’s called a fucking splinter :frowning: Metal shaving from the workshop. It’s gone into my hand something fierce, it’s not small and I can’t see it - but I can feel it alright. Grr…


Yeah okay, I heard about these of course :stuck_out_tongue:
Fucking annoying, self-implanting some of those frequently - all without any numbing!

This might not be your area of expertise, but you’re plenty smart enough. This is definitely a scale project though. There will need to be several prototypes made and failed before anything resembling a working model is possible.

Amal and I have talked about this, but it’s not on the roadmap for the foreseeable future. I definitely agree with your approach of shallowly implanting micro-beads of glass with a charged fluid inside like an e-ink display. It’s important to note that electric fields are magnetic fields. For anyone else interested, here’s how an e-ink display works:


It’s very likely that an insulated plate charged to a sufficient DC voltage could be pressed against the skin in the area where the beads are and flip the polarity of the charged inks inside each bead. Usually e-ink displays have two electrodes (top and bottom) that are oppositely charged to increase the refresh rate and resolution of the display, but for e-ink tattoos we may be able to get by with only one electrode. There’s also another limitation. With such a great distance between the plate and the beads, the DC voltage that you need to charge the plate up to in order to generate a sufficient electric field could be very high. It may be difficult to generate that voltage without huge amounts of waste heat. It may also be difficult to isolate electrodes on the same plate from each other.

The electronics could be figured out with enough time investment, but the fabrication of the beads may be difficult or impossible. They need to be small, uniform, and biosafe. I don’t even know how we would go about doing that. If they’re too big, they may also just be pushed out of the skin. Regular tattoo inks are simultaneously too large for your immune system to break down, and also too small for your body to push them out.

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Magnet in the palm. Removing tissue means extracting it with a needle.
Edit: There is nothing visible form the outside. No hump, due to the removed tissue, no discolouration. It was peeling off a little bit of skin during the healing process. The skin on the palm is different from most parts of the body. I guess it’s not very helpful in the case of a display.

You mean it’s dead and nothing’s happening? :slight_smile:

The beads exist already - if you can get your hands on raw e-ink, before it’s integrated into a screen.

That’s not a problem if the “writer” is used once for setting the image.

The real problem, if it was possible at all, is resolution: the futher from the beads, the lower the definition. It would very likely yield a very blurry image.

Anyway, image-forming beads are one option. There are other solutions I’m thinking of that involve no implants at all. I mean at the end of the day, the body itself has a built-in temporary display feature: it’s called tanning - and sunburning. Anybody who’s ever spread a fishing net over a friend who’s fallen asleep under the sun on the beach know it’s very easy to form images on skin :slight_smile: The problem is, the refresh rate is utter crap, and the activation method gives you cancer over time. But there might be ways to subvert, or imitate that process with faster-acting molecules that work at different, safer wavelengths.

Still thinking out loud :slight_smile:

The active members of are still very active, they’re just either heads down on their personal projects/businesses or have moved to other communication channels (like Slack). You ca’t deny that they’ve had some interesting successes. This stuff happens in waves. Give it a year. When the economic impacts of COVID have had more time to fester we’ll see another wave of displaced skilled laborers like we did in 2009. Then either that website or another will become a hotbed of biohacker activity.

Yeah, but you can’t just implant those, they’re not biocompatible. Your body would eat that shit for breakfast.

Yeah, you’re totally right there. It could be engineered to work, but it would take some serious capital.