History of Tattoo Removal Techniques

The way we think about tattoo removal these days is drastically different compared to some of the earlier methods. It’s only in the last ten years that laser treatments have really been refined. We asked Removery Clinical and Safety manager, Chelsea Labrecque, CLS/MLS, to share a little deadset history of tattoo removal. Once you hear about some of the original methods, you’ll be thankful for all of the advancements.

Tattooing dates back over five thousand years and has been used in various cultures for different reasons. For example, Greeks and Romans used them to mark slaves and criminals while some African cultures believe in scarification and used it to indicate social rank, political status or religious authority.

When it comes to the early days of tattoo removal, the rudimentary methods sound incredibly painful at best. Removal artists would use abrasive substances to scrape away the top layers of skin to remove the pigment. Another method involved inflating a balloon underneath the skin to stretch it, cut out the tattoo, then graph it with extra skin. They would even cryogenically freeze the tattoo and then use microdermabrasion to remove the tattoo.

It wasn’t until 1967 that Dr. Leon Goldman, M.D. used a 694 Ruby laser and an ND: YAG laser to remove a tattoo for the first time. Then in the 1980s, those same specialists began using CO2 lasers to remove tattoos, but that technology was still in its infancy and resulted in scarring and permanent pigmentation issues. Plus, it was extremely painful and required general anesthesia.

The early ‘90s brought about safer laser procedures with minimal side effects, thanks to Dr. Rox Anderson M.D., John A. Parrish, M.D., and the development of short-pulsed width lasers and the theory of selective photothermolysis (selecting tissue and using a specific wavelength of light to target a specific area or chromosphere).

In the last ten years, laser aesthetic treatments have really become refined by the introduction of new protocols, training, and technology. At Removery, we have been working with our proprietary “T2 Method” that was designed specifically to make the new Cynosure® PicoWay® more effective at removing the full colour spectrum of stubborn ink.

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