Q-switched laser tattoo removal
Background: Decorative tattooing gained popularity in many western countries throughout the 1990s. Some estimates show that approximately 10 % of men in the United States already have tattoos. However, tattoos often become a personal regret. As recent surveys suggest, 17 % of people that have obtained a tattoo and more than 50 % of adults over the age of 40 in the United States of America consider having them removed. The same trend can be observed in our country as well. Laser therapy is the gold standard for tattoo removal. In Slovenia, laser tattoo removal therapy is available and widely accessible. There is a wide range of facilities offering laser tattoo removal, ranging from different private clinics to beauty salons. Different facilities use different lasers, but not all lasers, however, are optimal for successful and complete tattoo removal, as inappropriate use can cause many unwanted side effects.
Methods: Eleven (11) patients (2 men and 9 women) requesting tattoo removal were treated in our department. When treating our patients, we used Fotona’s QX MAX quality-switched Nd:YAG laser which offers four different wavelengths in a single system; 1064 nm Nd:YAG was used to treat and remove dark pigments, 532 nm KTP for red, tan-colored, purple and orange tattoo inks, 650 nm dye for green tattoo inks and 585 nm dye for sky-blue colored inks.
Results: Satisfactory tattoo removal was achieved in all patients treated. Patients were very satisfied with the success and the number of treatments needed for tattoo removal. There were mild unwanted side effects and the pain was moderate. The average number of treatments required for complete tattoo removal was less than 7, ranging from 3 to 21 treatments. Patients’ satisfaction with tattoo removal was estimated at 5.2 (on a scale from 1 to 6).
Conclusions: Our study showed that Q-switched lasers successfully remove tattoo ink, however several treatments are required for satisfactory tattoo removal
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