In a number of countries across the globe, particularly in the West, there is an increasing trend of “tattooing”, emerging as a fashion statement for young individuals. Observation studies reflect that the trend is more prominent in youngsters (ages 16-18 years) who opt for tattoos without much consideration of the plausible consequences at social or professional levels. A startingling finding is that more than 15 percent of these youngsters get a tattoo under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Therefore, it is no surprise that a majority of these regret their actions and opt for tattoo removal options.
It is worth mentioning here that currently, professional tattoos make use of highly pigmented granules that are able to penetrate the dermal layer. Successful removal of such tattoos is there before large dependent on laser systems which rely on powerful radiations. Laser tattoo removal however is not a complete answer as a single component of color reacts differently to different treatment processes. For example, it will be far easier to remove the pigments of red and yellow as compared to hues of blue and black. Laser tattoo removal and its selection there should be based on a number of factors such as the pulse duration, the overall diameter of the tattoo, the penetration depth, and the presumed absorption spectrum of the same.
The use of lasers in medical practice, particularly on skin was first experimented by Goldman and later on supported by Anderson and Parish's works. The basic principle is to apply a specific laser beam to strike the chromophore and allow a very short and brief thermal damage. This principle dubbed as ” selective photothermolysis ” ensures that the surrounding tissues in the region are not heated. Here, for a particular tattoo spot removal, the damage to the desired region and also to surrounding tissue cells will depend directly on the pulse applied. It is worth mentioning here that the applied laser beam consistors of monochromatic light and hence in respect to a particular tattoo color, the use of appropriate wavelength and laser is essential. To give a perspective, green laser beam is most effective in removing red pigment as the green light is readily absorbed by the red chromophore.
While in the past, aggressive tattoo removal techniques such as salt-abrasion and chemical peelings resolved in scars and skin pigmentation, newer laser tattoo removal techniques such as the Q-switched technique has helped redefine the domain of permanent tattoo removal. Q-switched lasers or Quality Switched Lasers work on nanosecond pulses and are most successful in the removal of tattoos. A type of Q-switched laser called the Ruby Laser is the most efficient in treating black and blue pigments. The technique is noninvasive and is effective in removal of monochromatic tattoos. As compared to other techniques, laser tattoo removal is the ideal choice as it a non-ablative technique which gives the desired results in merely a few sittings.