Background: All previous treatment modalities for the removal of tattoos, with the possible exception of the Q-switched ruby and YAG lasers, result in scarring.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of a new laser that may remove tattoo pigment without leaving a scar.
Methods: A Yucatan micropig was tattooed by a professional tattoo artist with black, blue, green, and red pigments. These tattoos were then treated with single overlapping pulses with the alexandrite laser (wavelength 755 nm, pulse 100 nsec) and evaluated clinically and histologically. Comparison treatment with an argon laser (wavelength 488 nm, 514 nm, continuous-wave) and flashlamp-pumped dye laser (wavelength 585 nm, pulse 450 microseconds) was performed as well for removal of red tattoo pigment.
Results: The alexandrite laser was found to be very effective in removal of professional and amateur black tattoo pigment, moderately effective in removal of blue and green pigment, and minimally effective in removal of red pigment. No scarring was seen clinically or histologically.
Conclusion: The alexandrite laser shows promise as a treatment modality for tattoo removal without scarring.