Same-day laser treatments show tattoo clearance benefit, but with diminishing return

July 1, 2012

Repetitive same-day treatment with a nanosecond pulsed, Q-switched laser increases tattoo ink clearance and is safe, but the magnitude of improvement does not appear to increase linearly with the number of treatments, reported Suzanne L. Kilmer, M.D., at LASER 2012, the 32nd annual American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery conference.

Key Points

Kissimmee, Fla. - Repetitive same-day treatment with a nanosecond pulsed, Q-switched laser increases tattoo ink clearance and is safe, but the magnitude of improvement does not appear to increase linearly with the number of treatments, reported Suzanne L. Kilmer, M.D., at LASER 2012, the 32nd annual American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery conference.

The tattoos were predominantly professional (73 percent) and included some that were multicolored. Fifteen tattoos were divided into four quadrants that received one, two, three, or four same-day laser treatments, and 11 were bisected and received one or four same-day treatments.

Patients returned for follow-up after one month for evaluation of tattoo ink clearance and were offered a second set of treatments that were to be performed with the tattoo divided in the same manner as in the initial session. All patients returned for the first follow-up, and 14 patients with 20 tattoos were evaluated at one month after undergoing a second treatment session.

Study results

Results from the first follow-up showed tattoo ink clearance was clearly improved when a second treatment was performed on the same day compared with a single treatment (50 versus 39 percent). However, compared with the quadrant treated twice on the same day, the areas that received a third or fourth consecutive same-day treatment showed modest incremental benefit at best, Dr. Kilmer says; tattoo ink clearance rates after three and four same-day treatments were 55 percent and 59 percent, respectively.

The same patterns were observed when evaluating tattoo ink clearance in patients seen after their second treatment session, when the clearance after one, two, three, and four treatments was rated as 63 percent, 69 percent, 74 percent, and 78 percent, respectively.