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BACKGROUND With rapid advancement in cutaneous laser therapy, Q-switched lasers have become the standard treatment for tattoo removal. The longer wavelength Q-switched Nd:YAG laser is used when removing tattoos in darker skin patients to avoid scarring and permanent pigment changes. Nevertheless, the local experience revealed that nearly 25% of the Chinese patients developed scarring. Meanwhile, multiple clinical studies have shown that Contractubex gel (Merz Pharma, Frankfurt, Germany) was effective in the treatment and prevention of hypertrophic scars and keloids.

OBJECTIVE To evaluate the efficacy of Contractubex gel in the prevention of scarring after laser removal of tattoos in Chinese patients.

METHODS A total of 120 Chinese patients with 144 professional blue-black tattoos were recruited into the study. They were randomly assigned into the Contractubex group or the control group. All patients were treated with a QS 1,064-nm Nd:YAG laser using a 3-mm spot size, a 10-Hz repeat rate, a pulse duration of 6 nanoseconds, and fluences that ranged from 3.6 to 4.8 J/cm2 (mean fluence, 4.2 J/cm2). The treated areas were assessed 3 months after the last treatments for clinical clearance and complications.

RESULTS Fifty-two patients with 61 tattoos in the Contractubex group were able to achieve a mean clearing rate of 82.3±11.6%. There were 7 tattoos in 7 patients that developed scarring, 4 patients had permanent hypopigmentation, and 3 patients had transient hyperpigmentation. In contrast, 55 patients with 68 tattoos in the control group had a mean clearing rate of 80.4±11.3%. Among them, 16 tattoos in 14 patients developed scarring, 4 patients had permanent hypopigmentation, and 5 patients had transient hyperpigmentation. Although there was no significant difference in age, sex, fluence, treatment session, and clinical clearance between the two groups, the Contractubex group had a statistically significantly lower rate of scarring than the control group (p<.05).

CONCLUSION Contractubex gel is effective in scar prevention in Chinese patients having laser removal of tattoos.