R20 Method: Quicker & More Effective Tattoo Removal

In an age where everyone is looking for quicker results from the products and procedures they get, manufactures of laser tattoo removal technology are answering the call and producing lasers that give clients speedier outcomes. And dermatology clinics are working in the same vain. One such effort is the R20 method, whereby many licensed dermatology physicians are now offering this laser removal technique to remove tattoos in half the time of other laser removal methods.

How the R20 method works

The “R20 method,” also known as the “R20 protocol," involves the same high-tech laser devices that are used in dermatology clinics, but they are being utilized in a new way for more effective, faster tattoo removal. With this technique, a dermatology laser surgeon administers a series of treatments over the inked area with a laser device.

For conventional laser treatments, dermatologists use a laser device to make a single pass over the tattoo at each office visit. As a result, it takes several months for a tattoo to begin to fade. With the R20 method, however, more ink is broken down and lifted per visit, cutting the number of treatments roughly in half.

What to expect from the R20 method

There are a number of things a patient should expect prior to receiving treatment, including:

  • Pain
  • Injury to the treated area
  • Longer sessions


The main question patients pose is whether pain will occur during the treatment. Unfortunately, yes. The R20 method renders pain similar to that of other laser tattoo removal techniques. Fortunately, because treatments are cut roughly in half, patients will not have to experience the pain that comes with numerous treatments over the course of many months.

With your physician’s approval, some acetaminophen taken in advance of each treatment may help, as well as local anesthetic to help minimize pain. Ice and topical anesthetics applied post-treatment can help further minimize discomfort and any swelling. Discuss painkiller options with your physician prior to treatment to ensure they are approved and will not affect treatment.

Injury to the treatment area

There will be some initial injury to the treated skin, but that is expected to heal. There may also be some skin lightening or pigmentation changes to your skin where the tattoo has been removed, and these changes in pigmentation may not completely go away.

Dermatology physicians using the R20 method have found that patients who have received four passes of the laser in a single visit experienced more initial injury to their skin. However, the initial injuries healed and the R20 patients did not necessarily have more scarring or negative side effects than those patients who had been treated with other laser removal methods. Patients undergoing any method of laser tattoo removal treatments may have “sunburned” skin for several months; others may experience infection.

All of these adverse effects can be minimized or avoided by choosing a highly skilled and experienced specialist, such as a licensed, board-certified dermatologist. Do not seek tattoo removal from a tattoo parlor or skin spa. Remember: Laser removal is a procedure and should be performed by a certified physician. And should a problem occur, the patient has some recourse, for they can return to their treating physician for follow-up care.

Longer sessions

Another expectation clients should consider is the time they'll need to set aside for treatment—your appointments to the dermatology clinic will be longer. These treatments, or “passes,” are spaced 20 minutes apart during a single office visit, rather than administered as single treatments in separate visits spaced over many months.

Is the R20 method for you?

The skill of your laser surgeon is very important. If he or she is trained enough to know which wavelengths to apply for each ink color and type used in the tattoo, even the multi-colored tattoos that were once considered impossible to remove can now be significantly diminished. It is important to know that regardless of the removal method, multi-colored tattoos are more difficult to remove completely. People who have single-color tattoos in black, blue or red ink are likely to have greater success with the R20 method of laser tattoo removal.

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