California Skin & Laser Center has two locations, in Stockton and Lodi, California. Run by Dr. Gerald N. Bock, the skin and laser center will provide cosmetic services to anyone who stops in. They use laser technology to remove tattoos, and offer information on their procedures on their website.
Decorative tattooing in humans was first practiced during the stone and bronze ages. A study conducted in 1991 found that 9-11% of adult men in the United States had tattoos, but more than 50% regretted having them and would seek removal if possible. (A 2003 poll found the number of adults with tattoos to have increased to 16%!) Unfortunately, at the present time, tattooing remains popular with celebrities such as athletes and entertainers, serving as a role models for teenagers and young adults and encouraging them to seek tattoos.
Tattoos are much easier to acquire than to get rid of. Tattoo removal using most non-laser methods has disadvantages such as incomplete pigment removal, non-selective tissue destruction and unsatisfactory cosmetic results such as significant scarring. Older methods of tattoo removal have involved the application of caustic chemicals that destroyed the skin as well as the tattoo. All of these methods are associated with a high incidence of scarring and color change, and are now rarely used.
Slightly more refined methods of tattoo removal have included abrasion with salt (salabrasion), cryosurgery, dermabrasion, electrocoagulation, and the use of an infrared coagulator. All of these procedures are associated with significant scarring and in most instances the result of tattoo removal looks worse than the tattoo alone. Conventional surgical methods have also been used to treat tattoos; however, their use is limited to the removal of small tattoos. Surgical removal of large tattoos usually yields unsatisfactory results.
In 1991 the Medlite Q-Switched Neodymium-YAG Laser was introduced for tattoo removal. This laser, with a long wavelength, allows deeper penetration and at the same time causes minimal melanin absorption and minimal skin color change. Early studies using this laser showed that it was very effective in removing dark blue black ink seen in amateur and professional tattoos and especially useful in removing dark ink from cosmetic tattoos. This laser can also emit 532nm or green light, which allows the removal of tattoos containing red and orange ink.
Professional tattoos require an average of four to eight treatments, spaced ideally every two months, to remove the tattoo. Amateur tattoos will usually require approximately the same number, but may require more or less. Frequently the tattoos will disappear completely, or at least by 95%, but some of the newer tattoo inks may respond less completely, or not at all. Rarely, especially in darker pigmented individuals, removal of the tattoo may leave an area of decreased skin color in the shape of the tattoo. If this occurs, it is almost always temporary. The discomfort of tattoo removal is similar to that of the initial tattooing, and rarely requires local anesthesia. Topical anesthetic creams may be prescribed in advance. At the present time the Nd:YAG laser is the workhorse of tattoo removal. Unfortunately, certain ink colors, most often green, do not respond to this laser.
Another use for tattoo-removal lasers is the removal of traumatic tattooing resulting from mechanical penetration of foreign particles into the body. These tattoos are most likely associated with falls or “road rash” and can be easily eliminated by treatment using tattoo removal lasers. In addition, unwanted or misplaced cosmetic tattoos such as eyeliner and lip liner tattoos can be removed by means of the Q-Switched laser.
In summary, the laser available at California Skin & Laser Center provides an excellent means of California tattoo removal with little or no scarring. This laser offers significant advantages over previous methods for tattoo removals and is presently the treatment of choice and standard of care for blue, black and red tattoo removal. California Skin Laser also offers laser hair and vein removal.