New procedure: remove tattoos with laser and ultrasound

New procedure: remove tattoos with laser and ultrasound

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Gently remove tattoos

Sometimes it is a small rose on the arm, sometimes a dolphin on the back; But it can also be the name of the ex or an ugly "ass antler": Many people have had a tattoo that they want to get rid of. However, the usual methods of removing tattoos are usually painful. Researchers are therefore developing a new method with the aim of a gentler removal.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 25 percent of Germans have at least one tattoo. Around a quarter of them have regretted a tattoo. The usual methods to remove the engraved motifs are often painful and associated with scarring. Researchers are therefore developing a new method that combines established laser removal with ultrasound. The goal: a gentler treatment.

Only a few succeed in complete removal

Modern medicine offers various options for tattoo removal, with laser treatment so far considered the most effective according to experts.

"To get rid of an unwanted tattoo using a laser, up to 15 sessions are required, in which the color pigments are broken up by the high energy of the laser and then transported away via the lymphatic system," explains Prof. Dr. Axel Wellendorf from the Gummersbach campus of the TH Cologne in a message.

However, this does not happen without leaving any residue, so that only a small number of patients can achieve complete removal. In addition, the high energy density of the laser destroys skin cells, which is painful and leads to scars.

Combine established laser removal with ultrasound

The TH Köln, together with the Essen University Hospital and Epimedic GmbH, is therefore developing a new procedure that combines the established laser removal with ultrasound. This combination is said to bring gentler treatment.

“We hope that ultrasound will do several things: It should stimulate and loosen up the tissue so that the color pigments can loosen more easily. In addition, we expect that the color pigments will be better crushed by the combination of laser and ultrasound, ”says project manager Wellendorf.

In addition, the skin experiences a deep massage through the ultrasound, which activates the metabolism and promotes the transport of lymphatic fluid. The activity of the cells is increased and their regeneration is promoted.

In order for the ultrasound to be effective, it must act on the tissue before, during and immediately after the laser pulse. That is why the project partners want to develop a handheld device that combines both techniques. In addition to the laser and ultrasound units, a camera is also to be integrated, which shows a live image of the area of ​​skin to be treated.

Less scarring

According to the information, the team around Prof. Wellendorf is responsible for the development of the hardware. Epimedic GmbH provides the electrotechnical control, which enables a semi-automatic course of the treatment, and the dermatology clinic of the University Hospital Essen is responsible for the medical side of the project and will test the new technology preclinical and later on test subjects.

"For the patients, we are hoping for a significantly lower number of treatments, which will also be carried out with less powerful laser pulses. This is to reduce the pain felt and shorten the healing process significantly. We also expect an improved complexion after removal compared to conventional treatment and less scarring, ”explains Wellendorf.

As the message concludes, the research project "Development of a skin medical device for the removal of tattoos by the combination of laser and ultrasound technology" is funded by the Central Innovation Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (ZIM) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • TH Cologne: Remove tattoos with laser and ultrasound, (accessed: November 27, 2019), TH Cologne

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