Whatever Happened To...? Now you may all recognise this phrase from mainstream television, a glimpse into the current lives of stars and starlets of past. Today I play this game, or rather ask the questions of an evolution in the tattoo industry from back in 2008.
Eco Tattoo Removal, sounds like a recent headline in the newspapers or online and right up the alley of our environmentally friendly evolution, but this discovery came about in 2008 and has since fallen off the face of the planet. Like many discoveries only time will tell the validity, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of things like this, leaving the question, whatever happened to Eco tattoo removal?
First off, what is Eco tattoo removal? Actually this refers to a process rather than a device or equipment. It was found that laser treatments that were and still are the most effective means of tattoo removal, can cause significant amounts of scarring if the radiation exposure to the body heats over 70 degrees Celsius. Given this, spray coolants became the means to control temperature and minimise risk. The cooling also offers pain relief and is now used before, during and after treatment.
In the 90's, Tetrafluoroethane was the coolant of choice as it did not have any adverse effects on the ozone, but was found to be a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon monoxide. At the time carbon dioxide was the alternative offered as it had a much less drastic impact on the environment. A fine mist of this "dry ice" cools the skin, acts as a pain reliever and coolant (by up to 3 degrees) and offers a much "cleaner" solution to tattoo removal.
The dry ice technique was employed in older, out of date tattoo removal procedures through the course of time as well, including micro-dermabrasion, a process that sands the skin to remove colour and other forms that damage the skin and had the potential for excessive scarring. The laser has remained the best, most effective of these practices and allows for a healthier final product with less scarring.
Still today, the cooling products are used in laser tattoo removal, mainly liquid nitrogen spray, along with Lidocaine but more so for the relieving factors than environmental concerns (you will find little to no discussions of environmental impact past 2008 as a matter of fact). And though we do know that studies show that there is not enough radiation exposure to cause skin cancer, it is a little concerning that long term data is not available with regards to this or the potential environmental impact.
As with the advancement of our society, there are many more concerning impacts on our world. However, any contributing factor that exists and is within the realm of change should most definitely be reviewed. Laser tattoo removal is on the rise and we will see more and more people utilising this service for unwanted ink, which means the potential for its ill effects on the environment to spike.
Consider this as well, laser treatments are not just used for tattoo removal this is simply one modality. Acne scars, hair removal and more utilise the same laser practices and have the potential to become an environmental concern. It will be interesting to see just how much this every growing industry will be cause of concern in the future and at what point we will be seeking alternatives to this practice and adding this to the spiralling list of ways man is irrevocably affecting the world around us. On the other hand, perhaps we are just splitting hairs when many much larger concerns need to be addressed.
Writer: Morbid Molly