Correspondence |

Picosecond Laser Pulses for Tattoo Removal: A Good, Old Idea

Omar A. Ibrahimi, MD, PhD; Fernanda H. Sakamoto, MD, PhD; R. Rox Anderson, MD
JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(2):241. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.2136.
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We read with great interest the recent study in this journal by Brauer et al1 and congratulate them for carrying out a well-designed pilot study of a picosecond laser for tattoo removal. In particular, we applaud the authors for demonstrating the potential of these lasers to remove multicolored tattoos, which often prove to be more challenging to remove than traditional black tattoos with current nanosecond technology.

While it is exciting to read about a new commercially available device, the use of a picosecond laser for tattoo removal is not novel. Over a decade ago, several key studies that were not cited by Brauer et al1 fully set the stage for their work. The Wellman Center for Photomedicine2 at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School pioneered the use of picosecond lasers for tattoo treatment over 14 years ago in a landmark human pilot trial comparing picosecond and nanosecond pulsed lasers using pulse durations shorter than those used in the study reported by Brauer et al.1 Herd et al3 also reported an animal study showing superiority of a picosecond titanium:sapphire laser over the Q-switched alexandrite laser in removing tattoo pigment.

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