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Laser removal of decorative tattoos inside the mouth

Study demonstrates safe and effective removal of oral mucosal tattoos

By Emilee Green | Jan 24, 2020



Wausau, WI (January 24, 2020) – Cosmetic mucosal tattoos are rare, however tattooing of the inner lip or buccal mucosa has been practiced for generations in many cultures. Even in this area, there can be tattoo regret. There are only a handful of cases of successful laser removal for oral mucosal tattoos. In this report two cases are presented that demonstrate the safe and effective removal of decorative tattoos of the mouth using both picosecond and q-switched lasers.

The case report of this study, published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine (LSM), the official journal of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. (ASLMS), was selected as the January 2020 Editor’s Choice.

The study, led by Roy Geronemus, MD and co-authored by Hao Feng MD, MHS, is titled “Successful Treatment of Cosmetic Oral Mucosal Tattoos Using QS 694nm Ruby Laser and 755nm Alexandrite Picosecond Laser.”  

“Decorative tattoos are becoming more and more popular worldwide. Tattoo application appears to have unlimited boundaries with novel and unique sites for placement expanding rapidly. Tattooing of mucosal surfaces including the mouth is one of those areas that have become a canvas for tattooing and consequently there is an increased demand for removal in this area,” said Geronemus.

One month after treatment both patients demonstrated marked improvement to the treatment area without scarring or dyspigmentation. Given the excellent results seen in the patients presented in the study, the authors recommend that lasers should be the first-line treatment for the removal of unwanted cosmetic mucosal tattoos.

geronemus-roy-gRoy G. Geronemus, MD, Director of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York®, graduated from Harvard University and pursued his medical education at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

He is a Clinical Professor of Dermatology at New York University Medical Center where he founded its laser program and served nine years as chief of dermatologic and laser surgery. He is past president of a number of societies including the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery. 

Dr. Geronemus has been a featured speaker of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery for many years, as well as speaking to other national and international audiences. He has published over 300 medical articles, chapters and books. He has been involved with the development of multiple new laser systems and therapeutic techniques, which are now commonly used throughout the world.

Editor’s Choice is an exclusive article published in LSM, the official journal of the ASLMS. View the complete manuscript.

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. (ASLMS) is the largest multidisciplinary professional organization dedicated to the development and application of lasers and related technology for health care applications. ASLMS promotes excellence in patient care by advancing biomedical application of lasers and other related technologies worldwide. ASLMS membership includes physicians and surgeons representing more than 51 specialties, physicists involved in product development, biomedical engineers, biologists, nurses, industry representatives and manufacturers. For more information, visit


The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participation in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.

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