R20 Method of Laser Tattoo Removal

Having major tattoo regrets? Your search for a truly effective “ink buster” may be over. Many licensed dermatology physicians are now offering the R20 method of laser tattoo removal, which can remove your tattoo in half the time of previous laser removal methods.

The R20 procedure

The “R20 protocol” or “R20 method” for tattoo removal 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, accelerated tattoo removal. With the R20 protocol, a dermatology laser surgeon administers a series of treatments over the inked area with a laser device. 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. However, this does mean your appointments at the dermatology clinic will be longer.

Advantages of the R20 method over other treatments

For conventional laser treatments, dermatologists use a laser device to make a single pass over the tattoo at each office visit. For this, it takes several months before a tattoo will begin to fade. With the R20 method, more ink is broken down and lifted per visit. Instead of investing the 12 months (or more) that it takes to complete an entire series of laser treatments, the R20 method means you may be done with treatment in a few months.

What to expect from the R20 method

Will it hurt? This is a common question. Unfortunately, the R20 method will hurt about as much as other laser tattoo removal methods. But with your physician’s approval, some acetaminophen taken in advance of each treatment may help, as well as local anesthetic to minimize pain. Ice and topical anesthetics applied post-treatment can help further diminish discomfort and any swelling. You should discuss with your physician the painkillers that are approved during laser treatment.

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

Who is a candidate for the R20 method?

As long as a laser surgeon is skilled enough to know which wavelengths to apply for each ink type and color that was used in a tattoo, even the multi-colored tattoos that were once considered impossible to eradicate 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.


The success of your tattoo removal will depend highly on the skill and expertise of your physician. Readers are cautioned against seeking tattoo removal from a tattoo parlor or skin spa. Choose a licensed, board-certified dermatologist who is already skilled at laser surgery tattoo removal, and you will have a greater chance of avoiding damage to the skin around your tattoo. Also, a dermatology physician who is experienced with laser techniques will understand which device and wavelengths to use for the various ink colors and types in your tattoo.

You should also understand that there are five factors that limit tattoo removal success, including ink color, age of the tattoo, tattoo size, tattoo location and smoking status.

Recovery after the R20 method

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, though this risk can be greatly reduced by choosing a reputable dermatology physician and following up at the first signs of a problem.

To find a laser tattoo removal facility in your area, visit TattooHealth.org!

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