SURGICAL tattoo removal is generally unsatisfactory.1 Total excision or partial excision in stages usually leaves a noticeable, wide scar. Complete excision and skin grafting not only scar the site of the tattoo but the skin graft donor site as well. Many patients accept the surgical treatment for tattoos only because the social stigma of the tattoo is of greater hindrance than the scarring.
The laser is uniquely adapted for this surgical problem. Emitting a brief (8 to 10 nanosecond (nsec) Q-pulsed; 1.8 msec long pulse) narrow band (6,943 Angstroms) of high energy light (100 megawatt), the ruby laser beam, as any light, is absorbed more by dark substances than by light substances. A large amount of laser energy is delivered accurately to the target area and one is able to capitalize on the differential uptake of light energy by dark versus light materials. It can be done without
Yules RB, Laub DR, Honey R, Vassiliadis A, Crowley L. The Effect of Q-Switched Ruby Laser Radiation on Dermal Tattoo Pigment in Man. Arch Surg. 1967;95(2):179-180. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1967.01330140017004