In the early 1980s, a new clinical study began in Canniesburn Hospital's Burns and Plastic Surgery Unit, in Glasgow, Scotland, into the effects of Q-switched ruby laser energy on blue/black tattoos. Further studies into other tattoo colours were then carried out with various degrees of success. Research at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow also showed that there was no detectable mutagenicity in tissues following irradiation with the Q-switched ruby laser. This essentially shows that the treatment is safe, from a biological viewpoint, with no detectable risk of the development of cancerous cells.
The "standard modality for tattoo removal" is the non-invasive removal of tattoo pigments using Q-switched lasers. Different types of Q-switched lasers are used to target different colors of tattoo ink depending on the specific light absorption spectra of the tattoo pigments. Typically, black and other darker-colored inks can be removed completely using Q-switched lasers while lighter colors such as yellows and greens are still very difficult to remove. Success can depend on a wide variety of factors including skin color, ink color, and the depth at which the ink was applied.
A lot of us have imagined ourselves with those same kinds of full-arm sleeves. For some, it could work well with our no-fucks-to-give persona. For others, it's an aesthetic decision, or an emotional one. If you’re serious about it though, then it’s worth knowing what planning is involved—from inception, to execution, to maintenance. So we spoke with Nicolas Gualteros, tattoo artist at Senaspace in NYC, to plot it all out.