The Describe PFD Patch Can Make Your Laser Tattoo Removal MUCH BETTER!
In an article on KSAT.com, a lady named Jasmine talks about her upcoming tattoo removal with a PicoSure laser. It’s probably the best laser out there for tattoo removal because of how the laser works.
“When a laser energy is delivered in a trillionth of a second, you’re actually getting a pressure wave that disrupts the ink particles as opposed to heat damage to the ink particles, so you get less damage to the surrounding skin,” explains Dr. Dennis Dass, a Los Angeles-based plastic surgeon.
Jasmine, Dr. Dass’s patient, is optimistic – but realistic – about her PicoSure tattoo removal. She says, “I’m imaging (imagining) the best possible outcome with maybe a little bit of you know some here and there discoloration and scarring, which I’m totally open to as long as the tattoo is for the most part, gone.”
But this is exactly the reason why I think laser tattoo removal has a way to go. The only way to get a tattoo removed is to be open to skin discoloration and scarring afterward – even with the best lasers! How sad!
So I wanted to tell you about a new development that is improving laser tattoo removal. It’s something so simple: a patch. And this PFD patch WORKS!
(OK, OK. You’re right. The guy in the picture shown above has a beautiful tattoo. He doesn’t NEED tattoo removal. But not everyone’s tattoo looks this good.)
Tell me more about the Describe Tattoo Removal Patch.
The Describe Patch is a silicone gel patch infused with perfluorodecalin (PFD). It's an ingredient sometimes used in skin moisturizers. FDA approved in 2015, it allows medical practitioners to treat the tattoo with multiple laser passes in a single treatment session. That’s the bare bones explanation. But there are plenty of reasons to ask for this PFD patch when you get tattoo removal.
What does perfluorodecalin (PFD) do?
ScienceDaily.com gives the best answer:
“Without sufficient oxygen, tissues can’t heal,” says Phillip Marucha, professor of periodontics at the UIC College of Dentistry. “Oxygen activates the inflammatory cells of the immune system that help healing. Also, oxygen derivatives like bleach and peroxide are part of the arsenal of noxious products that these cells use to kill the bacteria in wounds.”
About the Study . . .
A clinical study of the Describe PFD Patch “Rapid, High-Fluence Multi-Pass Q-Switched Laser Treatment of Tattoos With a Transparent Perfluorodecalin-Infused Patch: A Pilot Study” was published on August 12, 2015, in the journal, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. The study was headed by Dr. Brian S. Biesman.
- He tested 20 adult patients with dark blue or black ink tattoos.
- The patients all had relatively light skin (Fitzpatrick skin types I – III) and got 5 or more treatments.
- The treatments were given in 4 – 6 week intervals until the tattoo was completely removed.
- A Q-switched Alexandrite 755 nm laser was used in all treatments.
Important things to consider about the tattoo removal patch study:
- The PFD patch has not been studied with an Nd:YAG or ruby laser – YET. Therefore, it is only FDA cleared for 755 nm lasers.
- Another thing to be aware of – no one in the study had really dark skin. My feeling is that the patch will still improve outcomes for people with dark skin. BUT be sure to talk to your provider about their experiences with the PFD patch, tattoo removal, and dark skin (Fitzpatrick skin types IV, V, and VI).
- And finally, each patient was allowed to use lidocaine prior to tattoo removal. This means that the study did not definitively prove that the patch lowered the patients’ pain scores. The Lower pain scores could actually be a result of the use of the lidocaine.
- The study compared sides of the same tattoo. 1/2 was treated using the patch. The other half was treated without the patch. 11 of 17 tattoos tested got quicker clearance with the tattoo removal patch.
- The patch allowed 3 – 4 laser passes on all patients. In comparison, the side without the patch could only be safely treated with 1 pass.
- The patch allowed the technician to use a higher energy setting – anywhere from 1.5 to 1.8 times more fluence (optical energy delivered per unit area).
- None of the patients experienced any adverse effects with the tattoo removal patch.
- Some of the patients got 90% ink clearance with the patch. The side of the tattoo treated without the patch only got 20% clearance.
6 Ways the PFD Patch Improves Laser Tattoo Removal:
1. It allows multiple passes and drastically speeds up tattoo removal. When lasers are used in tattoo removal, they turn your skin white. It’s caused by cavitation - when gas bubbles form after the laser meets the ink. Sometimes it’s called “laser frost.” Doing more passes sooner wasn't beneficial because the white gas bubbles kept the laser's light from reaching the inks.
Laser frost takes about 20 minutes to go away. Practitioners came up with the R20 method to get around this. They would wait 20 minutes for the frost to disappear then make another pass with the laser. The R20 method has shortcomings though:
- It causes more skin damage
- It’s not considered safe with red, orange, and other warm-toned colors
- It doesn’t work on sensitive skin
- It’s a very time consuming procedure (appointments last about 80 minutes)
2. This new option saves you both time & money.
- Before the patch, tattoos were treated with one pass of the laser spaced 7 – 8 weeks apart. This spacing allowed your immune system time to start removing the tattoo inks.
- Then came the R20 method. But it required appointments that lasted around 80 minutes. And even though the R20 method allowed more passes at each appointment, some tattoos still needed 20 sessions.
- Then came the tattoo removal patch. It cuts the time commitment drastically. Fewer sessions mean you spend less money. It also means more satisfied customers for tattoo removal clinics.
3. The PFD Patch also improves the laser’s ability to reach the tattoo pigment. By using a higher energy setting, the light is able to penetrate more deeply into your skin. It can break up the ink without causing damage to your skin.
4. The patch is made with a medical-grade silicone barrier. It prevents the PFD from evaporating and conducts heat away from the skin. These things protect your skin from injury.
5. While the laser is working, skin debris is ejected from the treatment site. The silicone layer of the patch blocks potentially infectious bacteria & viruses (E. coli, Staph. aureus, HPV, HIV, and Hepatitis B) AND noxious gases (hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, toulene, styrene, and benzyl cyanide). It protects both you and your provider from these health hazards.
6. People who had tattoos removed using the PFD patch had less pain & fewer side effects.
“The PFD patch was associated with improved tolerability compared with conventional treatment, with subjects experiencing fewer and less severe adverse effects related to epidermal injury. Additionally, when surveyed at the 1-month follow-up visit, all subjects (30/30) preferred to continue laser-assisted tattoo removal with the PFD patch.”
How do you use the tattoo removal patch?
Dr. Biesman answered this question in an interview with Cosmetic Surgery Times.
“It’s not complicated. The patch is impregnated with PFD. It comes individually, in a plastic package. There is extra PFD in the package. Usually, we’ll take a cotton-tipped applicator, dip it in the PFD and put a little of the PFD on the skin. Then, we put the patch over the PFD, onto the area to be treated, and treat through the patch. It’s really very straight forward.”
Dr. Biesman’s practice rolls the cost of the patch into the patient’s bill for tattoo removal.
How many patches do you need?
Roy G. Geronemus, M.D., director, Laser & Skin Surgery of New York, told Cosmetic Surgery Times that he uses the DeScribe patch for tattoo removal using picosecond and q-switched lasers.
“I have found it helpful in facilitating faster tattoo removal and some pigmented lesions. It is also of value in patients with skin of color as the patches help protect epidermal melanin from injury.”
How much does the PFD Patch cost?
The price for the tattoo removal patch varies from clinic to clinic.
- Some offices include the patch in the price of your tattoo removal.
- Other offices sell the patches individually for about $40.
- And many clinics save the PFD patch for only the most stubborn tattoo inks.
Note: The Describe PFD patch is only available to licensed medical professionals. If you are interested in using the patch for your tattoo removal, call your provider to make sure they have them.
To see before and after pictures of tattoo removal with the Describe Patch, go to the Describe PFD Patch website.
Did you know? Not all states regulate tattoo parlors and tattoo artists. If you're getting tattoo removal to make room for another tattoo, be sure to read our post, Tattoo Safety - 13 Ways to Stay Healthy When You Get a Tattoo.
I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful! I think this tattoo removal patch is a great advance in laser tattoo removal. But there’s another kind of tattoo removal available now too, trans epidermal pigment release. Just like computers – if you’re willing to wait, something better will come along (and for less money!). Good luck!
Amy Takken is a registered nurse with 20+ years of experience helping people improve their health. Her in-depth skincare articles have been featured on Nazarian Plastic Surgery and The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery. Amy loves research and constantly watches for new products and treatments to help you improve your skin’s health – because healthy skin is beautiful! To reach Amy, visit our contact page.
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If you liked this post, you'll LOVE these:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050618/ Laser-generated Airborne Contaminants
https://www.google.com/patents/US20130053757 Tattoo Removal System and Method
https://www.medpagetoday.com/dermatology/generaldermatology/65932 Better Tattoo Removal Outcomes with Patch - Less edema, skin irritation, pain
The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some – like melanoma – can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!