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Article
April 1990

Traditional Tattooing of the Gingiva: Successful Treatment With the Argon Laser

Author Affiliations

Department of Dermatology University of Munich Frauenlobstrasse 9-11 D-8000 Munich 2, West Germany

Arch Dermatol. 1990;126(4):547. doi:10.1001/archderm.1990.01670280133037
Abstract

To the Editor.—  In the Archives, Goertz and Goos1 reported an unusual soot tattoo of the maxillary gingiva in an Eritrean woman. We present another case of gingival tattooing as a tribal mark in a 26-year-old woman, in whom most of the pigment could be removed by argon laser treatment.

Report of a Case.—  In 1985, a 26-year-old white woman was referred to our department with the question of a possible therapeutical approach to a gingival tattoo.Some years ago, the woman had married a black from Senegal and had gone with him to his homeland. There it is a traditional custom to tattoo the gingiva of women for reasons of beauty or as a tribal mark. Our patient, too, had her gingiva tattooed with soot. After her marriage had dissolved and the patient had returned to Germany, she sought medical help for removal of the pigment. On examination, the maxillary and mandibular gingivae showed a blue-black coloration (Fig 1). Under superficial anesthesia with lidocaine spray a test treatment with the argon laser was performed with promising results. After five treatment sessions with over 1300 laser pulses (argon ion laser, 488 nm, spot diameter, 0.5mm, exposure time, 0.3 second, output, 4.0 watts), most of the pigment was removed without scar formation (Fig 2) and only moderate shrinking of the gingiva.

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