In the Western world, more than 10% of the population have at least 1 tattoo. If the tattoo is removed, the tattoo pigment particles in the skin can be selectively destroyed by means of selective photothermolysis by different types of medical aesthetic lasers. This treatment requires laser pulses of short durations (nanoseconds) and high intensities (fluenses).

Dr. Wolfgang Bäumler, Department of Dermatology, University of Regensburg in Germany reports on 12 patients who received treatments with improper treatment parameters. In all patients, his group diagnosed hypo- or hyperpigmentations and scar formation at the treatment site. In particular, the pulse duration of the light sources or lasers applied were considerably longer than those required by the principles of selective photothermolysis. The light intensities of those devices are normally not sufficient to destroy the pigment particles. Instead of destruction, the pigment particles in the skin are heated up and the heat is conducted to the adjacent tissue causing unspecific tissue injury.


Lasers and especially intense pulsed light sources with more than 1 millisecond pulses and low light intensities are clearly not suitable to be applied for laser tattoo removal.