Tattoos Can Be Removed in Fewer but Longer Laser Sessions

Murad Alam, MD, MSCI

Disclosures

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In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

Repeated exposures in one day with intervals between treatments effectively removed most tattoos.

Introduction

Removal of unwanted tattoos is usually performed with Q-switched lasers. Many treatment sessions are needed (up to 20 for professional tattoos), and the results are often incomplete. These authors studied the efficacy of using four passes in a single treatment session with long intervals between treatments.

Twelve healthy white subjects with a total of 8 professional and 10 amateur tattoos were treated. Each tattoo was divided into two parts, and the parts were randomized to be treated with a single laser pass or by the so-called R20 method of four consecutive passes separated by 20 minutes. All passes were made by the same investigator using a Q-switched alexandrite laser (5.5 J/cm2, 755 nm, 100-nanosecond pulse duration, 3-mm spot size). Patients were followed for 6 months. At 3 months, results on a 5-point measure were significantly better on the R20 sides (P<0.01). In punch biopsy samples, more pigment had been removed from deeper areas with the new technique. Transient side effects included more epidermal injury and purpura on the R20-treated sides, but these did not translate into later adverse effects such as scarring.

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