One small Greek study showed that the R20 method—four passes with the laser, twenty minutes apart—caused more breaking up of the ink than the conventional method without more scarring or adverse effects. However, this study was performed on a very small patient population (12 patients total), using the weakest of the QS lasers, the 755 nm Alexandrite laser. One of the other main problems with this study was the fact that more than half of the 18 tattoos removed were not professional and amateur tattoos are always easier to remove. Proof of concept studies are underway, but many laser experts advise against the R20 method using the more modern and powerful tattoo removal lasers available at most offices as an increase in adverse side effects including scarring and dischromia is likely. Patients should inquire about the laser being used if the R20 treatment method is offered by a facility as it is usually only offered by clinics that are using the weak 755 nm Alexandrite as opposed to the more powerful and versatile devices that are more commonly used. Moreover, dermatologists offering the R20 method should inform patients that it just one alternative to proven protocols and is not a gold standard treatment method to remove tattoos.
Regardless, if you are going to start with a single tattoo, in any location, be sure to tell your artist that your eventual end goal is a full sleeve. “She or he can leave the piece in a way that it can be added to in time,” Gualteros says. “Basically, to get the best result for this, you should ask for flow.” (That’s tattoo-artist speak for “something that will flow nicely with other designs”.)
The answers to those questions will determine whether you’re looking for a design or a specific image. A lot of guys are going for floral, geometric, or tribal designs just for the artistry. They add some flair to your skin. Other men choose images of religious figures, verses of Scriptures, or popular quotes to remind themselves and others what they believe in. Others feature tattoos of tigers, warriors, and dragons to show their strength. Still others get tattoos of skulls, an hourglass, or death faces to say, “I know it’s coming and I’m not afraid.” Finally, many men get tattoos of their favorite superheroes, movie characters, video games, or sports team logos as a sign of where their interests lie.