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Beginning as a research project in 1995, I undertook an evaluation of a high intensity light delivery system that had been approved by the United States Federal Drug Administration for tattoo removal. It was soon evident why few physicians used this technique. The original French guidelines produced unacceptable scars and burning.

Beginning with an experimental series, using common sense as well as burn therapy guidelines, a protocol was developed for tattoo removal all of colors and all locations at a minimal cost and at minimal time. According to experts, the typical laser tattoo removal may require fifteen to twenty treatments and a 50% reduction is considered a good result. With the TOBIL (Tattoo Obliteration By Intense Light) technique, three to five treatments is the norm, with obliteration of the tattoo or tattoos. The actual treatment takes less than five minutes but local anesthetics are required.

All tattoo removals that have been employed (from dermabrasion to laser to TOBIL) will leave some degree of scarring and loss of pigment. Under the protocol developed for the Gang Tattoo Removal Program of Texas, this is a minimal risk today. Topical antibiotics, pressure, topical cortisone, and a careful routine of treatment according to location, size, and depth of the tattoo are all acceptable forms of tattoo treatment today.

The cost is less than one-twentieth of that required for the four to five lasers that are employed for multicolored tattoos or the single laser that is used for black tattoos. The cost is in personnel, the purchase price and maintenance of lasers compared to the TOBIL, as well as the time.

We have successfully treated more than three thousand individuals with the TOBIL and have had occasion to observe many who have previously had unsuccessful attempts at laser removal of their tattoos. These options are discussed in detail with a counseling book that shows the results of TOBIL tattoo removal.

- Dr. Tolbert S. Wilkinson, MD


Click here to download a podcast of Dr. Wilkinson presenting the TOBIL system in 2007.






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