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December 1994

Tattoo Removal Using the Alexandrite Laser

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, University of California—San Diego.

Arch Dermatol. 1994;130(12):1508-1514. doi:10.1001/archderm.1994.01690120044006

Background:  Until the recent development of the Q-switched lasers, it was not possible to remove tattoos without causing scarring, sometimes very disfiguring. Variations in wavelengths and pulse widths used may result in different clinical effectiveness or risks. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the alexandrite laser in removing professional and amateur tattoo pigment without adverse tissue response.

Results:  We describe the clinical and histologic effects of the use of a new Q-switched laser for treatment of tattoos, the alexandrite laser (wavelength, 755 nm; pulse width, 100 nanoseconds). The results of treatment of 17 patients with professional tattoos and eight patients with amateur tattoos are analyzed. Greater than 95% removal of tattoo pigment averaged 8.9 treatment sessions. Transient hypopigmentation occurred in approximately 50% of patients, and transient textural surface changes occurred in 12%.

Conclusions:  The alexandrite laser is a safe and effective treatment modality for removal of black and blueblack tattoo pigment.(Arch Dermatol. 1994;130:1508-1514)

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