The following is an experiment I carried out to test a theory. A number of experiences had made me think that the time between laser sessions is more important than first thought.
My clinical group first developed scar-free laser tattoo removal back in the 1980s in Canniesburn Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland. Back then, we were using a Q-switched ruby laser with a pulsewidth of around 30 nanoseconds (quite long by today’s standards!)
The clinical research appeared to show that a minimum of four weeks was required to allow the skin to repair following treatment. This became the ‘gold standard’ for many years.
After a few years clinicians started to report that a longer time between sessions might yield ‘better’ results. This became six weeks, then eight weeks.
However, when I was regularly treating people I noticed that those patient who returned after a loooooong time, always seemed to have much more ink loss than others.
So, I treated a volunteer with a tattoo:
I used the 1064 nm wavelength on a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser with a 10 ns pulsewidth, at, typically, 4 to 6 J/cm2.
After only four sessions I achieved the following:
Most of the ink has disappeared from most of the tattoo. However, the shortest gap between sessions was 9 months. One gap was 21 months!
I now think that leaving much longer gaps between repeat sessions is a much better approach to this treatment. It allows for the skin to repair fully and properly, whilst also removing as much ink as it can.
If we ‘go back in’ too soon, then I think that the skin is still in the ‘repair’ phase and has not removed as much ink as it can!
I am now seeking confirmation of this theory from other laser operators. If you have any good photos showing the same thing, please let me know.
Watch this space…
Ciao for now,