Laser Tattoo Removal: A Review

Authors

  • Kathryn M. Kent MD,

    Corresponding author
    • Boston University and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Emmy M. Graber MD

    1. Department of Dermatology, Boston University and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Resident Training Program, Boston University and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
    3. School of Medicine, Boston University and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
    4. Cosmetic and Laser Center, Boston University and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • The authors have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Kathryn M. Kent, MD, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, 609 Albany St., Boston, MA 02118, or e-mail: kathrynkentmd@gmail.com

Abstract

Background

Tattoos have played an important role in human culture for thousands of years, and they remain popular today. The development of quality-switched (QS) lasers has revolutionized the removal of unwanted tattoos.

Objectives

To thoroughly review the literature on laser tattoo removal pertaining to its history, its theoretical basis, the various devices used, potential adverse effects, and future developments.

Material and Methods

An extensive literature review of publications related to tattoo removal was conducted.

Results

Reports exist demonstrating the efficacy of laser removal of different tattoo types, including professional, amateur, traumatic, cosmetic, and medical. The literature supports the use of different QS lasers for removal of tattoos. Some colors have a more-complete response using particular wavelengths.

Conclusion

QS lasers can effectively and safely remove different types of unwanted tattoos.

Ancillary