What’s the Deal with R20 – Is It Safe?

R20 is a new tattoo removal procedure that was investigated by a researcher in Greece.  Instead of the traditional 1 pass with the laser, she did 4 passes separated by 20 minutes each.  According to the research, this process did remove the tattoo ink more efficiently than the traditional 1 pass method.  Unfortunately, there is a big “HOWEVER” to this story:

  1. The study was done with 18 tattoos on 12 people, half of whom had the R20 procedure.  The study authors themselves acknowledged this limitation in their abstract.  If someone told you that a medicine was safe based on 6 people, would you believe them?
  2. The authors also said in their abstract that although neither method “caused adverse events or scarring” the R20 method did cause, “greater epidermal injury…”
  3. The study used the weakest Q-switched laser – the 755nm Alexandrite laser.  There is significant concern that using the current lasers, which are much stronger than the Alexandrite laser, could damage the skin including scarring and pigment issues.
  4. In addition to the small patient population, more than half of the 18 tattoos were not professionally done and amateur tattoos are always easier to remove.

So, what’s the bottom line?  Does R20 work?

The physician who conducted the studies said, in an article in Cosmetic Surgery Times, “…our encouraging findings need to be validated in a larger prospective study.”  We couldn’t agree more!  The reason we have chosen to avoid the R20 procedure is that we just can’t answer the question, “Is it safe?”.  Some anecdotal stories we have heard involve emergency room visits and hospital stays.  As the safety of our clients is paramount, we will not be offering the R20 procedure until we can say with 100% certainty that it is safe.

We will keep you up-to-date as more information about R20 becomes available.