Clinical, histologic, and ultrastructural evaluation of tattoos treated with three laser systems

Brian D. Zelickson, David A. Mehregan, Ali A. Zarrin, Charlotte Coles, Patricia Hartwig, Susan Olson, Janette Leaf‐Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


We examined the response of tattoo pigments treated with three commercially available lasers: Q‐switched ruby, Q‐Switched neodynium:yttrium, aluminum, garnet (Nd:YAG), and the alexandrite. Tattoos applied to hairless guinea pigs and treated with the aforementioned lasers were evaluated clinically, histologically, and ultrastructurally. Clinical evaluation showed red brown, dark brown, and orange pigment responded best to the Nd:YAG laser (1064 nm). The alexandrite laser was most effective for removing blue and green pigment, the Q‐switched ruby laser was most effective for removing purple and violet pigment, and the NdYAG laser (532 nm) removed red pigment the best. Black pig ment was lightened equally with the Nd:YAG laser (1064 nm) and (532 nm) and the alexandrite laser (755 nm). No clinical scarring was observed; however, some colors turned black after treatment. Histologic and ultrastructural examination showed epidermal and dermal damage to be most evident after treatment with the Nd:YAG laser. Our study shows that certain tattoo pigments respond better to different laser systems. © 1994 WiIey‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-372
Number of pages9
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Alexandrite
  • electron microscopy
  • Q‐switched ruby
  • Q‐switiched ND:YAG


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