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Picosecond laser shows significant promise for new era in tattoo removal


Kissimmee, Fla. — Treatment with a picosecond 755 nm alexandrite laser (Cynosure) appears to be a significant advance for clearing tattoos as well as benign pigmented lesions, according to research presented at LASER 2012, the annual conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.

Results from two clinical trials investigating the laser to treat a variety of professional tattoos and pigmented lesions showed it was safe and worked rapidly and effectively in both indications.

Kenneth A. Arndt, M.D., presented findings from using the picosecond laser in a study enrolling treatment-naïve patients, including five patients with benign pigmented lesions and 15 patients with professional tattoos, which were predominantly black but also included some with green or blue ink. All of the pigmented lesions cleared with just two treatments, and among the 12 tattoo patients who completed the study, all achieved better than 75 percent clearance and generally with just two to four treatments, he reports.

“With its 100-fold shorter pulse duration compared with existing Q-switched nanosecond lasers, the picosecond 755 nm alexandrite laser is more effective in fragmenting carbon tattoo particles, and that translates into better and faster clearance,” says Dr. Arndt, who is in private practice, SkinCare Physicians, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

“The laser also clears benign pigmented lesions both rapidly and effectively, and the relatively long wavelength of the alexandrite laser makes it suitable for treating dermal as well as epidermal benign pigmented lesions,” he adds.

Tackling blue and green
Roy S. Geronemus, M.D., director, Laser & Skin Surgery of New York, and clinical professor of dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, presented outcomes from treating 18 patients with 24 tattoos, including 11 previously untreated, multicolored tattoos and 13 that were recalcitrant to previous laser treatment.

Dr. Geronemus says he is particularly impressed by the performance of the laser in clearing blue and green ink; in his series, more than two-thirds of green and/or blue tattoos were nearly 100 percent cleared after just one or two treatments.

“Blue and green tattoos have been very resistant to treatment with nanosecond-pulse lasers. The average tattoo needs six to 10 treatments to achieve acceptable results, but up to 20 sessions are sometimes needed,” Dr. Geronemus says. “The dramatic clearing of blue and green tattoos in just one or two sessions using the picosecond alexandrite laser is really remarkable.”

Disclosures: Cynosure provided the laser used in the study. Drs. Arndt and Geronemus report no relevant financial interests.

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