Lasers for tattoo removal: a review

Abstract

Tattoos have existed and have been used as an expression of art by man for ages—and so have the techniques to remove them. Lasers based on the principle of selective photothermolysis are now being used to remove black as well as colorful tattoos with varying successes. The commonly used lasers for tattoo removal are the Q-switched 694-nm ruby laser, the Q-switched 755-nm alexandrite laser, the 1,064-nm Nd:YAG laser, and the 532-nm Nd:YAG laser. Newer techniques and methods are evolving in tattoo removal with lasers. Choosing the right laser for the right tattoo color is necessary for a successful outcome. Our review aims to understand the principles of laser tattoo removal and their applications for different types and colors of tattoos. The review also highlights the complications that can occur such as dyspigmentation, allergic reactions, epidermal debris, ink darkening, and so on, in this process and how to prevent them.

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Correspondence to Sonal Choudhary.

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Choudhary, S., Elsaie, M.L., Leiva, A. et al. Lasers for tattoo removal: a review. Lasers Med Sci 25, 619–627 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10103-010-0800-2

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Keywords

  • Lasers
  • Tattoos
  • Q-switched ruby laser
  • Q-switched alexandrite laser
  • Ink darkening