Some clinicians, aware of the damaging effects caused by repeated exposure to lasers for tattoo removal have devised, since the early 80s, superficial thermal abrasion with and without osmosis. This has long been done with devices operating in either elecrofulguration or electrodesssication mode. The preferred operational method for this procedure is electro fulguration as the ablation requires to be very superficial. If performed correctly, electrofulguration, or electrical arcing, provides an effective way to remove tattoos while minimizing the number of sessions required to achieve the desired effects, also minimising the risks of collateral damages or scarring. The risks to the skin are minimized drastically because thermal abrasion with osmosis allows removing tattoos, in most cases halving the number of sessions otherwise required with laser treatment.
Although different tattoos present different levels of difficulty in their removal, depending on the type of ink and instrumentation used to draw it, experience has shown that thermal abrasion with osmosis can remove tattoos within 3 to 6 sessions, on average, per area treated. If thermal abrasion is applied without osmosis the number of sessions required for tattoo removal increases dramatically.
Therefore, it has to be noted that the clinical advantages of using thermal abrasion with osmosis over laser treatment for tattoo removal are more effective and efficient with the following advantages:
- Less potential harm to the client because less sessions are required.
- The cost of the instruments required for tattoo removal are a fraction of specialized tattoo removal lasers.
Why thermal abrasion with osmosis more than halves the number of sessions required compared with conventional laser removal equipment?
Like with laser treatment, thermal abrasion causes the colour pigments to be broken down. However the protocol of thermal abrasion involves also packing the area treated with sodium chloride for a period of half to a full hour after thermal abrasion.
The sodium chloride is applied because it causes osmosis. Osmosis draws the broken tattoo pigments to the surface removing them from the deeper part of the dermis. It therefore facilitates further speeds up the tattoo discolouration and hence eventual removal.
Additionally, from a clinical stand point, it is important to try and find any possible way to minimise the number of exposures to burns or to any similar skin abrasion. The more the skin is exposed to laser treatment or any other thermal abrasion techniques the more damage is caused to the skin.
Limitations of Tattoo removal by applying thermal abrasion with osmosis
It has been shown that thermal abrasion with osmosis is very effective in removing tattoos without leaving any scars and within only few sessions.
However, scars could develop when:
- thermal abrasion had been carried out to cause extensive damage to the dermis.
- the treated area had become infected
- the client has a particular predisposition to developing Keloids or hypertrophic scars