The development
of dermatography

The development of dermatography

Between 1835 and 1990, 391 articles about medical tattooing were published in scientific magazines. In these, medical specialists from different fields described their experiments. Fascinated as they were by the artistic aspect of painting the skin with colour pigments new researchers kept appearing. None of these experiments were based upon thorough research, with bad results as a consequence, including allergic reactions to pigments and transference of infectious diseases. It wasn't until professional enthousiasm was coupled with scientific research that any lasting results were obtained.

In 1980 > 1986 E.M. van der Velden was invited by Mitsuaki Owada (Horikin) to come to Yokohama and study classical tattooing techniques in all its artistic, historical and socio-cultural aspects. During his studies he met dermatologist-historian professor Tadasu Iizawa, who urged him to investigate the medical therapeutic uses of tattooing techniques for inserting colour pigments and therapeutic substances into the human skin.

Japanse wood block print Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)

Japanse wood block print Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Horikin III

On completion of his studies in 1986, Mitsuaki Owada bestowed upon Van der Velden the honorific master title Horikin III.

The method developed by Van der Velden for the proper application of medical tattooing techniques has been termed 'dermatography' in 1990. This term was derived from the thesis 'Irezumi' by prof. dr. W.R. van Gulik (Leiden, 1982). Dermatography has become a registered sub-specialism. Its applications are esthetical, therapeutical and medical.

Since 1998 keratography is the term used in ophthalmology for the treatment of injuries of the cornea (leucoma corneae), which show conspicuous discolorations over the iris area.

Dermatography is a treatment method used since 1984 in the Clinic for Medical and Esthetical Dermatography in Arnhem. Since 1986 the founder of this sub-specialism E.M. van der Velden has scientificly developed and applied this method in several academic hospitals in the Netherlands and abroad. Many international medical articles have been published on the subject. The effects of treatment in patiënts with varying complaints are scientificly supported.

E.M. van der Velden has an international reknown as an expert on tattooing and has been involved in several research projects, including forensic studies of tattooed mummies (The Man of Hauslabjoch (Oetzi), a natural mummy of 5400 BC found on the Austrian-Italian border in September 1991; and Scythian mummies of the Altai region (Siberia) from 500 AD, 1993, in which his expertise on colour pigments was called upon.

leucoma corneae before treatment

tattooed skin of a Scythian male (Altai burial mound, 500 AD)

E.M. van der Velden is working in a number of academic hospitals in the Netherlands and abroad, where he performs research on new therapeutical applications of dermatography and keratography:
● Clinic for Medical and Esthetical Dermatography, Arnhem (1984-present).
● Dept. Innovative Neurosurgical Center, University Academic Hospital, Antwerp, Belgium (2005 – present)

● Universitary Medical Centrem Utrecht, dept. Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery (1986-1 jan. 2006)
● Barzilai Medical Center, Ashkelon, Israel. Dept. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.The Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Beer-Sheba, Israel. Dept. of Plastic and Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery (1993-present).
● The Eyehospital Rotterdam, Cornea department (1995-2008).
● Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Ophthalmology department (1996-present).
● AZ Monica en Klina, Antwerpen, dept. Craniomaxillofacial and Facial surgery (1992-nu).
● Tilganga Eye Centre, Kathmandu, Nepal (1995-present).
● Van der Velden is a board member of the Dutch Society for Dermatography (1993-present) and of the Dutch Specialist Register of Dermatography (1995-present).
● Medical publications about dermatography/Keratography: 103 articles in international medical journals.
● Medical publications in Japanese: 8 articles
● Technical & medical publications: 9 publicaties
● Contributions as an author to several medical book publications, reviewer for several international medical journals.