The future of tattoo removal still remains a mystery, with science needing to catch up with our body’s own immune system. At Unink we use the best laser and tattoo removal systems in Brisbane – but what is the future of tattoo removal?
The rate-limiting factor for tattoo clearance is not actually science, but your body’s immune system, namely your cells known as macrophages in the lymphatic system to remove unwanted ink that has been broken down by the laser.
Over the last five years, there have been many advances in laser tattoo removal including the advent of picosecond lasers, the R20 method, Freedom Ink and many others. Some of these have passed the test of time. However, some have failed dismally.
Freedom Ink was a company developed by a well-known Harvard scientist named Rox Anderson, considered one of the most brilliant laser dermatologists in the world. His concept with simple which was basically to develop ink that is encapsulated. With the known colour, he worked on developing lasers to target this particular chromophore. The idea was simple.
Realistically, however, it was like handing over a particular ink or paint to Michael Angelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. The company went into liquidation within two years, losing nearly 10 million dollars.
The R20 tattoo removal method is still used by some centres, however, studies at both Laser Dermatology in Melbourne together with the studies conducted by Dr. Davin Lim have shown we cannot replicate what is happening in America, which may be due to the trends of ink we are seeing in Australia that may differ from the US.
The R20 method essentially is retreating tattoos once whitening has decreased. The whitening after tattoo removal is secondary to gas bubbles which are formed with the intense energy following laser delivery. Retreating tattoos a second and even third time (usually after 20 minutes) in theory meant faster clearance rates. We have noticed this did not happen in our clinic, but the incidence of scarring in some situations increased, hence the R20 method is not in common practice.
Another method described several years ago was the use of a fluorinated gas bubble dissipation system. This cream was placed immediately after tattoo removal which removed the gases which caused whitening of the skin. In theory, this reduced the 20 minute wait time to one to two minutes. Once again this did not translate to a more successful method of removing tattoos.