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Tattoo Removal

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Overview
The first tattoos date back over 5,000 years ago as well as the desire to remove them. It is estimated that more than ten million people have been tattooed in the USA alone. Approximately one third of people with tattoos at some point of their lives decide to remove them. In the past this desire was always counterbalanced by the risk of permanent scarring, often worse than the tattoos themselves.

It was only with the advent of QS (Quality Factor - Switched Laser) laser technology that it became possible to develop systems for removing tattoos in an effective, non-invasive manner.

There are many different types of tattoos: ethnic, or class tattoos (which identify a group or social class), symbolic tattoos (sentimental, sexual, or religious), cosmetic tattoos, and traumatic tattoos.

It is important to observe the tattoo carefully before starting the treatment to remove it. A tattoo consists mainly of an exogenous chromophore injected into the skin. The ink particles are phagocyted by the fibroblasts of the derma and remain permanently confined to the upper layer of the skin.

The density and depth of the ink are the most important factors influencing the results of tattoo-removing treatment. For example, amateur tattoos require a different treatment from professional tattoos. Carbon-based black ink is usually used for amateur tattoos, with low-density pigment located at different depths in the skin. Instead, professional tattoos consist of various coloured pigments and have a very high ink density at a very uniform depth in the skin. Given their specific characteristics, amateur tattoos normally require fewer sessions to be removed than professional tattoos.

 

How it works

The main feature of the Q-Switched laser is its capacity to generate an extremely powerful pulse (in mega watts) in very short times (several nanoseconds), producing a "photoacoustic" effect that shatters the tattoo pigment. The deep pigment is then eliminated through the phagocyted cells while the more superficial pigment is eliminated transepidermally. Finally, the pyrolytic alterations of the pigment caused by the laser make any residual pigment less visible. Such short laser emissions enable the thermal effect to be confined to the target – in this case the tattoo pigment – thus protecting the surrounding tissue.

For the treatment to be effective, the laser light must be absorbed by the pigment; however, the tattoo colours are sometimes multiple and therefore a single laser may not be sufficient to remove them all. The DEKA system, with its double wavelength, allows several colours to be removed with just one laser. By working in the infrared (1064 nm), black and blue tattoos can be treated whereas green light (532 nm) acts on red and reddish colours.