Currently, dermatologists are finding new laser therapies for improving tattoo removal treatment.
Tattoos, which may affect a person's skin, can be quite difficult to treat or remove.
While lasers have been used to remove tattoos for several years, the procedure requires multiple treatment sessions (typically six to 10 treatments or more) and treatments are painful, requiring a few weeks of healing time between procedures.
According to dermatologist Arielle N.B. Kauvar, MD, FAAD, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, the process of tattoo ink removal is inefficient since every colour of ink absorbs different wavelengths of light, requiring the use of multiple lasers.
Some colours - such as yellow, orange, turquoise or fluorescent ones - remain more difficult to treat.
"Unfortunately, there is no ideal laser to remove all tattoo colors, but new approaches have recently been introduced that appear to produce better results with fewer treatment sessions," said Dr. Kauvar.
One new study uses the Q-switched YAG laser to treat a tattoo four times in one day. These four separate treatments are administered at 20-minute intervals and have demonstrated much faster clearance of tattoo inks.
Other research involves the use of the fractional ablative laser in conjunction with traditional tattoo-removal lasers to speed up clearance - resulting in as much as 50 percent tattoo ink removal in just one treatment session.
In another new study, Dr. Kauvar is investigating the effectiveness of administering two treatments in one day using a combination of laser wavelengths to target different ink colours.
With this procedure, Dr. Kauvar first uses a Q-switched YAG laser on the tattoo, followed by a Q-switched alexandrite laser (which is better at treating blues and greens) 20 minutes after the first laser.
Dr. Kauvar noted that initial results of this procedure have shown significant improvement in removing blue, green and black inks.
"The biggest drawbacks to laser tattoo removal are the time, expense, pain and healing involved," said Dr. Kauvar.
"The newest techniques being investigated are designed to reduce the number of treatment sessions required to remove a tattoo, which should make the process more appealing," Dr. Kauvar added.