Laser Treatment of Accidental Tattoos: Experience at a Tertiary Referral Center

Dermatology. 2020 Apr 2;1-7. doi: 10.1159/000506459. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: To date, information on laser treatment of accidental tattoos is limited.

Objectives: This study analyzes the efficacy and safety of quality-switched ruby, quality-switched Nd:YAG and picosecond lasers in the treatment of accidental hyperpigmentation in a larger patient cohort. To date, there is limited information on laser therapy of accidental hyperpigmentation.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective systematic single-center analysis on 70 patients, which presented with accidental hyperpigmentation at the Dermatology Department of the University Hospital of Zurich between 2008 and 2017. Patients with accidental tattoos due to road injuries, explosives or other traumas and iatrogenic measures were included. We analyzed the data including laser parameters such as wavelength, energy density, spot size and intervals between the sessions. Also, the number of sessions performed and the overall success were registered.

Results: We treated 38 patients by quality-switched nano- and/or picosecond laser therapy and completed the treatment in 28 cases within a mean number of 3-5 laser sessions. No complications occurred.

Conclusion: We demonstrate the validity and safety of quality-switched and picosecond lasers in the treatment of accidental hyperpigmentation. Using a combination of different wavelengths and pulse lengths on the same lesion and gradually increasing the fluence in the course of the laser treatment is recommendable to increase efficacy. We observed a tendency towards faster elimination of facial accidental tattoos and/or originating from road injuries compared to tattoos located on the extremities and those caused by explosions, piercings or iatrogenic measures or consisting of metal pigment particles.

Keywords: Dermatologic surgery; Laser treatment; Surgical techniques; Tattoo pigment.