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Leading dermatologist Dr. Joshua Fox discusses technologies, solutions for safe, effective tattoo removal
New York, NY, April, 2007 – Whether it’s an old flame’s name on the bicep or a prom-night red rose on the ankle, Americans are fond of using decorative tattoos as a form of expression. And, notwithstanding the advent of semi-permanent and temporary inks, men and women in the U.S. are choosing permanent tattoos more now than ever. According to a study in the September 2006 edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, nearly one in four Americans report being “tattooed” at least once. Yet, the same study reports that 17% of those with tattoos would like to have them removed.
“In our society, tattoos are equated with a youthful free-spiritedness we all value,” explains Joshua Fox, MD, founder of Advanced Dermatology and a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology. “And with higher quality inks and equipment being used by tattoo artists today, many people are intrigued by the more creative and artistic designs that are available.” But, after the painstaking process of choosing a design – and the often-painful process of having the tattoo applied – what prompts those with tattoos to seek solutions for removal? Dr. Fox explains, “Obviously, tattoos that include names of past love interests do not fade, even when the ‘old flame’ flickers out.” He adds, “On a more general basis, people who find tattoos adventurous in their teens and twenties often find that they send the wrong message about them as they move into a more mature stage of their lives, when marriage, family, children and work become the focal point.”
The good news is that laser treatments and equipment have kept pace with the rising interest in tattoo removal – which some anecdotal reports estimate is as high as 40-50%. While there are several lasers that may be used to remove decorative tattoos – the Q-switched ruby laser – is the most effective, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. “The Q-switched lasers are the gold standard in removing pigmented skin lesions, which is essentially how a tattoo is identified by the body, this includes short pulse Ruby, Alexandrite, 532 and 1064” Dr. Fox explains. “The ruby laser is effective at breaking down the melanosomes where the ink is stored in the skin into smaller fragments, which are then removed by the patient’s immune system,” he adds.
Five things to consider before you tattoo…
While Q-switched ruby laser therapy is effective at removing permanent decorative tattoos safely and without scarring, Dr. Fox offers five caveats for those considering obtaining a tattoo: