Sorry Mom: Getting Lots Of Tattoos Could Have A Surprising Health Benefit

A new study suggests that having multiple tattoos might mean you have a better-than-average immune system.  The next time Grandma criticizes your multiple tattoos, tell her they might just be a sign that you’re healthy.

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A new study published in the American Journal of Human Biology last week — and getting lots of ink since then — suggests that people with multiple tattoos have a better immune response to new tattoos than people who are getting tattooed for the first time.

Laser Testing

After spending over 4 months testing different lasers on the market, Fade Fast Laser Tattoo Removal decided to upgrade our Palomar QYAG5 to the Focus Medical NaturaLase QS 2J. With so many lasers on the market all having pretty hefty price tags it was a long, tedious and expensive process. In the end we spent over $20,000 in research costs, but the hands-on experience was worth every penny. Below is a list of the machines we tested and a bit of information on each.


Revlite200 Hoya Conbio’s Revlite was the first system we tested. Actually, it was the second time we had the machine in our office (we did a side-by-side comparison with the QYAG5 a year and half ago.) However, this time we treated significantly more clients. The verdict: Conbio makes good solid machines. There is a reason that both the Revlite and its predecessor, the C6, are often called the “Gold Standard” of laser tattoo removal. Overall the results were good and the local sales guys (Maxim Laser) were fantastic.
The next laser that we tested was the Lutronic Spectrum VRM III. Again, a good solid machine. Putting it through the paces, it compared very closely to the Revlite. There were several pros and cons but overall the main things that made the machine most attractive were a lower cost and a longer warranty. If we had stopped our testing at this point, I think Lutronic would have been our new machine, but we pushed forward researching more equipment. Lutronic200
NaturaLase200 Laser number three that came to our office was the Focus Medical NaturaLase QS 2J. This machine is unlike any other laser on the market. The hand piece allows for more settings. It has external calibration. But, the real selling point on the laser is power. It produces twice the power of both the Revlite and the Spectrum VRM III in single pulse Q-switched mode. In laymen’s terms this means faster, more effective, and ultimately less treatments for the clients. Also, because of the increased power, the NaturaLase QS 2J is twice as effective in treating blue and green ink, which has always been the shortcoming for Nd:YAG lasers.
Finally, we tested the Fotona QX Max. This laser really is in a class all its own. It’s a 1.6J machine, which means that it produces 60% more power than most of the Q-switched Nd:YAG lasers on the market. The machine is tiny and seems to be very well built. The hand piece is similar in functionality to the NaturaLase and is extremely light and ergonomic. It even has the option of a wireless foot pedal. Of all the lasers we tested, this was one of the most impressive and is still one of our favorites on the market. Fotona200

It took over a month of deliberation, but in the end we chose the Focus Medical NaturaLase QS 2J. Every machine we tested would have made an excellent addition to the business, but ultimately, it is all about power. If our practice included skin tightening, acne treatments, vascular lesion treatments, etc, then we might have chosen a different machine. However, Fade Fast only does laser tattoo removal. The speed and the power of the NaturaLase 2J just can’t be rivaled.


Furthermore our decision was based on the future research, development and training that Focus Medical offered with the laser. Our technician, Allen Falkner, has visited the manufacturing facility twice, was trained to service the machine and still works closely with laser designer. What does this mean for our clients? By understanding the physics, inner workings and operational parameters of the laser, we can provide more customized treatments for our individual clients and ultimately give them better and faster results.


Update: It has been two months since we integrated the NaturaLase 2J into our business and the results have been phenomenal, but that’s not all. Due to the increased power and huge ten-millimeter spot size, sessions have been 4 to 6 times faster than our older laser. Also, compared to some 450mJ systems, such as the Medlite C3, the NaturaLase 2J can, in some cases, reduce the time per session by as much 1/10th.*


*1/10th reduction is a comparison of area treated per laser pulse – 6.5mm spot size (33.17 mm squared) to a 2mm spot size (3.14 mm squared)

For more information on the machines such as in depth comparisons, energy outputs per spot size, and final results of our trials, please feel free to contact us.

Tattoo Ink Study

Recently we put together a study to determine how different laser wavelengths interact with particular colors and more specifically different brands of tattoo inks. This test was designed to present empirical data proving or disproving the following statements:

Presently the four most common wavelengths that are used to remove tattoos are:
1064nm (infrared light) is absorbed by black and most other ink colors
650nm, 694nm, 755nm (red light) are absorbed by green ink
585nm (yellow light) is absorbed by blue ink
532nm (green light) is absorbed by red ink


The study was also designed to further determine the interactions of each wavelength on nonstandard or mixed colors such as orange, teal, purple, etc. In addition, the effectiveness of infrared light (1064nm) was tested on all colors to determine the absorption rates in comparison to the standard complimentary colors. Ex: Green absorbs Red Light.


Many of the inks did conform to the generally accepted light absorption archetype. However, some colors did not and produced some very surprising results. The outcome of this preliminary test identified some interesting ink interactions with every wavelength; most notably the less commonly used 585 (yellow) wavelength.


High resolution photos were taken and cataloged to show each ink’s interaction for side-by-side comparisons. All of the data produced by this study will be available during our lecture at The Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth, October 3rd at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas Nevada:

Nine Bar Removal Project

Laser Tattoo Removal

The gradient laser removal project started August 17, 2007 when Adam Walsh of Hold Fast tattooed the bars on the inside of my right arm.  We chose 9 because an approximate spacing of a half-inch seemed to work well aesthetically, and 8 treatments seemed to be a reasonable estimation to remove a black tattoo.

I began treating the tattoo on September 19, 2007.  This was of course quite soon to start the removal, but the process was as much about experimentation as it was to show my clients how the process worked. As you can see by the first treatment, the ink was quite resilient, breaking down in an uneven fashion.  This result is actually fairly uncommon, usually only seen when treating newer tattoos.  Also, in treatment number two you can see an unusual result.  The white patch on the right side of the bar was from a scab that I accidentally pulled off.  Of course total ink removal is a plus, but I could have been left with a scar.  Thankfully I was not.

Treatments three through five all went as planned with only one constant issue.  The 9th bar, and sometimes number 8, would often blister post treatment.  This was most likely attributed to heat generated by my bicep touching the area when my arm was bent.  Treatment six also went as planned with another minor problem.  Again I accidentally pulled a scab from the area.  This time however the area did not loose color.  In fact, the opposite happened.  The scab was more superficial and the underlying dermis was exposed leaving a very dark area in the tattoo.  It took a few months, but in time the epidermis regenerated and the color evened out.

Treatments seven and eight went well. I increased the energy quite a bit to knock out as much color as possible. I was a bit more aggressive than normal, but the project was nearing completion and results needed to be more dramatic if possible.  Bar number 9 is not perfect.  There is still a bit of tattoo ink left, the tissue feels slightly different and depending on ambient temperature the area will turn red at times.

The removal project ended with the final laser treatment on February 17, 2009 and the outlines tattooed on April 2, 2009.  Overall I am happy with the final product with one minor exception. As can seen in the photo, the bars that were once straight and symmetrical, have changed shape dramatically as they were progressively treated.

In time the bars will continue to fade and the outlines will soften.  So, in the future I will be updating the photo and possibly the story behind the project.

Credit and Special Thanks to Stacy Potter for the photo.

UT Southwestern Burn Study

Before I get into any of the details, let me give a bit of background on the study and also make it very clear that the implements used are designed to burn and leave a scar, not to remove tattoos. My involvement in this study is to further the research of burn care, wound management and the reduction of scar tissue on burn patients.

It’s been a year now since my first communications with Dr. Vincent Gabriel, Clinical Director North Texas Burn Rehabilitation Model System. He approached me with a with a very radical idea. To find volunteers to receive small burns that could be studied to help future burn survivors. In his own words:

“Our center admits about 500 people per year with serious burns, and I see about another 1000 per year in our outpatient clinics. Overall, about one third are children. Our survival rate is over 94% and as such, scarring is a major problem for my patients.

I contacted you because of a major quandary that we have in researching burn care. As it turns out, hypertrophic burn scars and keloids are uniquely human conditions. Despite the best efforts of many laboratories around the world, there is no acceptable animal model that closely resembles human scars. The closest model is a female red duroc pig that makes a thick scar, but biologically, it is still significantly different from human scar.

Studying scarring is therefore rather difficult. From patients that present to the hospital, we never have pre-existing tissue to study and burns that we can study come from differing depths. As well, our treatments aim to minimize scarring.

As a result, I thought that if I could find a sample of people that wanted to make scars, perhaps I could work with them to study their wounds and scars to better understand the biology behind scarring.”

It’s taken almost a year and several revisions before the review board finally accepted his proposal, but his diligence and hard work finally paid off. The procedure may seem a bit barbaric, but let me assure the branding strikes are virtually painless.

Dr Gabriel taking an initial biopsy

As you can see the biopsy leaves a small hole

An iron being heated to strike the skin

A brand freshly done

The same brand just moments after the second biopsy

The sample collection phase of the study should be over by April.  After that it will take about another 6 months for the analysis done and the results to be published. Once it becomes public record, I will post a link in this blog.

To both Dr Gabriel and the volunteers involved in this study, I would like to thank you all for allowing me to participate. i honestly feel that the work we are doing will advance the understanding and treatment of burns to better the lives of burn survivors around the world.


People commonly ask, “What is the ‘whitening’ or ‘frosting’ on the surface of the skin produced during laser removal?” The answer:  As the tattoo pigments absorbs the laser energy it fractures the ink into smaller particles and releases heat into the surrounding dermis and epidermis. During this rapid, localized heating of these skin cells, steam or gas is produced creating the “crisp whitening” optical effect.


Normally the frosting disappears within the first 10-15 minutes as the body reabsorbs the gas bubbles