Temporary dermal scatter reduction: Quantitative assessment and implications for improved laser tattoo removal

Roger J. McNichols, Matthew A. Fox, Ashok Gowda, Shilagard Tuya, Brent Bell, Massoud Motamedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Temporary dermal clearing, i.e., reduction in the attenuation coefficient of the dermis and epidermis, may lead to improved laser tattoo removal by providing increased efficiency of laser delivery to embedded ink particles and enabling the use of shorter wavelength visible lasers more effective on certain inks. Study Designs/Materials and Methods: In a hairless guinea pig model of human tattoo, we tested both intradermal and transdermal application of glycerol, using visual inspection, spectral analysis, and optical coherence tomography techniques to assess effectiveness. In controlled experiments, we compared the outcomes of single laser treatment sessions for both cleared and uncleared tattoo sites using Q-switched 755 and 532 nm lasers on three different inks. Results: Intradermal injection of clearing agents induced dermal clearing but resulted in necrosis and scar. Transdermal application of clearing agents resulted in moderate reversible clearing, which was localized to the superficial layers of the skin and did not result in complications. Statistically significant differences in laser treatment outcome were observed relative to a number of treatment parameters including the treatment of certain tattoos by short wavelength lasers. Conclusions: Temporary clearing of superficial skin layers may be performed in an apparently safe and reliable manner. Clearing should lead to increased penetration of laser light to tattoos and should, therefore, increase treatment efficiency. Further study is needed to determine the degree to which this change is of clinical value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-296
Number of pages8
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Dermal scatter reduction
  • Glycerol
  • Laser tattoo removal
  • Optical clearing
  • Skin
  • Transdermal delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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