Dermatologist Dr Kiran Lohia sheds light on the newer methods that are being used for tattoo removal these days
Tattoos have been recognized as a permanent form of art, expression, religion, identification, and beauty enhancement for thousands of years. As tattoos evolved throughout the ages, from a painstakingly long and traumatic process to a more efficient, comfortable one, more and more people began to get them. The development of electric methods for tattooing made them more easily accessible, more comfortable, and cheaper than ever before. These advances revolutionized the tattoo industry and made getting one (or many) appealing to a growing number of people all around the world.
Unfortunately for some, the quick accessibility of tattoos prompts less thought and planning before investing in one. It’s now common to get tattoos on a whim…sometimes even while under the influence. When I say under the influence, I don’t just mean under the influence of drugs and alcohol but also under the influence of love, music, poetry, and young, reckless thought.
Most of us know someone who regrettably got the name of a past lover permanently inked on their body. Or someone, who in their teen and young adult years, was so inspired by a song lyric or quote that they naively got it inked on their body forever. We’ve all made spontaneous, poor decisions. Unfortunately, for some of us, they come in the form of permanent embellishments on our body. Luckily new technology can help us erase tattoos that we once thought were permanent.
The most popular method of tattoo removal on the market is known as the “R20 Protocol”. The R20 Protocol uses a Q-Switched Nd:YAG laser that targets all kinds of unwanted pigments in the skin from melanin to tattoo ink. The Q-Harmony laser treatment at Lumiere Dermatology uses precisely this technology. Although Q-Harmony is often used to treat common pigmentation problems such as birthmarks, age spots, and freckles, it also works to break-up the pigmentation used in permanent make-up and body art. Originally, tattoo removal was performed by 1 pass of a Q-Switched Nd:YAG laser over the tattoo every 4-6 weeks. This could take up to 10-12 sessions for satisfactory results. Further research and testing has shown you can actually perform up to 4 laser treatments spaced 20 minutes apart in the SAME DAY…this is what is considered the “R20 Protocol”. The R20 Protocol enhances pigment deteriorating effects for faster tattoo removal. It also significantly decreases the amount of time laser tattoo removal takes, requiring only 4-6 sessions on average.
Even more advanced than the R20 Protocol is the Multi-Layer technique. The multi-layer technique starts with the same pigment targeting Q-Switch Nd:YAG laser as the R20 Protocol. However, in addition to the Nd:YAG, we add in a Q-Switch resurfacing laser, such as the Pixel Perfect laser. Resurfacing lasers add ablative technology that actually bore microscopic holes in the skin. When the skin heals, it heals from the inside out which resurfaces the skin to remove the internal pigment broken up by the Nd:YAG laser faster. This is the most efficient method of tattoo removal on the market to date. Even more efficient than the R20 protocol, the Multi-Layer technique takes only 3-5 sessions on average and has the ability to diminish the appearance of the tattoo more drastically than ever before. It also works to smooth the skin to its pre-tattoo condition leaving little to no scarring behind.
Now, although there are many advanced forms of tattoo removal on the market, it is a long process that doesn’t promise 100% improvement. Typically, 3-5 sessions of the multi-layer technique can promise 70-90% improvement. There may be gray areas or mild scarring left in place of the tattoo which is something you have to be prepared for! However, this is a big improvement for some people…like people trying to remove their ex’s name from their arm before remarrying.