New laser treatments are giving dermatologists a futuristic option to remove unwanted tattoos and treat the skin condition known as melasma.
The new approaches, detailed in a report from the American Academy of Dermatologists, involve new techniques that are more refined than previous laser technologies, researchers said.
“Dermatologists are now finding that new laser therapies can significantly improve melasma and even remove tattoos more safely and effectively than laser procedures we have used in the past,” said Dr. Arielle N.B. Kauvar, of New York University School of Medicine in New York City, in an AAD release.
Melasma (sometimes referred to as the “mask of pregnancy”) is caused by an overproduction of melanin, the substance that gives skin its color, and can lead to dark patches on the face. A new study found that combination therapy, involving microdermabrasion and treatment with a low-energy “Q-switched YAG laser,” resulted in a 75 percent improvement in 27 patients with melasma, Kauva reported.
A second study using the YAG laser to remove unwanted tattoos also proved promising, Kauva said. Using the laser to treat tattoos four times a day at 20-minute intervals led to much faster clearance of tattoo inks than other removal techniques. Kauvar is also investigating the effectiveness of using other lasers, singly and in combination, to target different ink colors.
“The biggest drawbacks to laser tattoo removal are the time, expense, pain and healing involved,” said Kauvar. “The newest techniques being investigated are designed to reduce the number of treatment sessions required to remove a tattoo, which should make the process more appealing.”