Picosecond Lasers Effective for Treating Facial Cosmetic Tattoos

Doug Brunk

June 07, 2023

TOPLINE: The picosecond laser is an effective and safe treatment for cosmetic tattoos.


  • The researchers retrospectively reviewed the charts of 33 adults who underwent removal of facial cosmetic tattoos between January 2015 and January 2022.

  • All tattoos were treated with a picosecond laser.

  • Two board-certified dermatologists reviewed before-and-after photos of each patient and applied the Physician Global Aesthetic Improvement Scale (PGAIS) to rate results.


  • It took an average of three treatments to achieve satisfactory results.

  • On the basis of the PGAIS, 66% of patients were rated "very much improved," with 76% to 100% of the tattoo removed.

  • 34% of patients were rated "much improved," with 51% to 75% of the tattoo removed.

  • Ten patients (30%) experienced unexpected changes in the color of the tattoo after the first picosecond laser treatment, mostly in eyebrow tattoos, which turned a red-orange color. These were successfully treated with a 1064-nm or a 532-nm picosecond laser.

IN PRACTICE: Results suggest that picosecond laser treatment of cosmetic facial tattoos is effective and safe.



  • The study is limited by inherent bias because of its retrospective design and small sample size. Also, termination of therapy was determined by patient preference, not by clearance of the tattoo.


  • The authors have reported no significant conflicts of interest.

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