From the Journals

Lasers expunge mucosal tattoos



Picosecond and Q-switched (QS) lasers are safe and effective for removing tattoos from the oral mucosa, according to results of two recent cases, researchers reported.

Mucocutaneous tattoos are relatively rare, and lasers have been used for their removal, but cases and results have not been well documented, wrote Hao Feng, MD, then of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, and the department of dermatology, New York University, and coauthors.

In a report published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, the clinicians noted significant improvement with no scarring or dyspigmentation at 1 month after the last treatment session in two patients, with mucosal tattoos that had not been previously treated.

In one case, a healthy 19-year-old woman with Fitzpatrick skin type II presented for removal of a 6‐month‐old, black tattoo on the mucosal surface of her lower lip. She received six treatment sessions at months 0, 1, 3, 5, 7, and 12 with a QS 694‐nm ruby laser at settings of 6-mm spot size, 20-nanosecond pulse duration, and 3.0-3.5 J/cm2.

In a second case, a 30‐year‐old man with Fitzpatrick skin type IV presented for removal of a 10‐year‐old black tattoo on his left buccal mucosa. He received one treatment with 755-nm alexandrite picosecond lasers at settings of 2.5-mm spot size, 500-picosecond pulse duration, and 3.36 J/cm2.

Both patients experienced local mild discomfort, erythema, and edema after treatment.

“Older tattoos respond better and quicker on the skin to laser treatments, and it is likely the reason why the buccal mucosa tattoo (10 years) resolved with a single treatment whereas the lower lip tattoo (6 months) required six treatments,” the authors noted.

Mucosal tattoos, they added, “tend to respond better, faster, and with less unwanted side effects than tattoos on the skin. This may relate to the fact that mucosal skin is thinner, non-keratinized, well‐vascularized, and contains less melanin content.”

As to which laser is the best choice for removing mucosal tattoos, the authors noted that it is unclear, but while they said they have been using picosecond lasers for tattoo removals, QS lasers “remain excellent treatment modalities,” they wrote.

“Given the excellent clinical response combined with lack of scarring and dyspigmentation in our highly satisfied patients, it is the authors’ opinion that laser treatment should be considered as the first‐line treatment in removing unwanted cosmetic mucosal tattoos. This can be accomplished with various wavelengths in the picosecond and nanosecond domains,” they concluded.

Dr. Feng, who is now director of laser surgery and cosmetic dermatology at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, disclosed serving as a consultant and medical monitor for Cytrellis Biosystems. Another author disclosed serving on the advisory boards for Cytrellis, Syneron Candela, and Cynosure; owning stocks or having stock options with Cytrellis; and investing in Syneron Candela, Cynosure, and Cytrellis. The remaining two authors had no disclosures.

SOURCE: Feng H et al. Lasers Surg Med. 2019 Dec 30. doi: 10.1002/lsm.23207.

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