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PFD patch improves laser tattoo removal

Article-PFD patch improves laser tattoo removal

Shining Q-switched laser light through a transparent perfluorodecalin- (PFD-) infused patch can improve laser-assisted tattoo removal, with more rapid tattoo clearance and greater patient satisfaction, according to a new study looking at the technology.

Dr. Biesman“PFD is an optical clearing agent that prevents the epidermal whitening that occurs with Q-switched picosecond or nanosecond lasers,” says Brian S. Biesman, M.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology, ophthalmology and ENT at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn. Dr. Biesman was principal investigator for the pivotal clinical trial for the DeScribe Transparent PFD Patch (ON Light Sciences).

In the open-access study, published October in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, Dr. Biesman and colleagues found that when treating tattoos through the patch, researchers were able to do about four passes at a higher energy, rather than being limited to a single pass, which is the case when physicians treat tattoos through air.

In the study, patients with black or dark blue tattoos (N = 17) had half of their tattoo serve as control and treated with a single pass of a standard Q-switched Alexandrite laser. The other half of the tattoo was treated with three or four laser passes through the PFD patch. The researchers reported faster clearance on the patch side in 11 of the 17 tattoos. They also reported higher patient and clinician satisfaction when they used the patch and no unanticipated adverse events, according to the study’s abstract.

Tattoo shown before (above) and after (below) laser treatment with and without PDF patch. All photos courtesy Dr. Biesman.

Tattoo at baseline (left). Same tattoo (right) comparing treatment with  three or four laser passes through the PFD patch (top right) versus a single pass using a Q-switched Alexandrite laser (bottom right). Photos:Brian S. Biesman, M.D.

“With any patient that undergoes laser-assisted tattoo removal, there’s going to be some erythema. There’s typically going to be a little bit of crusting, and it’s going to take a little time to heal. We saw nothing out of the ordinary [in this trial]. It wasn’t worse with PFD,” Dr. Biesman says.

At the 30-day evaluation for adverse events, researchers asked study participants if they’d like to continue tattoo removal with or without the patch and all (30 out of 30) wanted to continue with the PFD option, according to Dr. Biesman. The 30-patient study was the pivotal trial, whereas, the data reported was from the researchers’ initial pilot study, he says.

“Patients also preferred the side that was treated through the patch from a recovery standpoint,” he says.

NEXT: PFD Patch How-To


PFD Patch How-To offers a five-minute how-to video for using the patch during tattoo removal.

“It’s not complicated. The patch is impregnated with PFD. It comes individually, in a plastic package. There is extra PFD in the package. Usually, we’ll take a cotton-tipped applicator, dip it in the PFD and put a little of the PFD on the skin. Then, we put the patch over the PFD, onto the area to be treated, and treat through the patch. It’s really very straight forward,” Dr. Biesman says.

Dr. Biesman says his practice rolls the cost of the patch into the patient’s bill for tattoo removal. Most patients need only one patch, he says. But some, with bigger tattoos, might need two.

“With most tattoos you can move the patch around,” he says.

Since conducting the research for the DeScribe patch, Dr. Biesman says his practice has changed its approach to tattoo removal.

“My very protective staff feels we are doing patients a disservice if we don’t use it,” he says.

Roy G. Geronemus, M.D., director, Laser & Skin Surgery of New York, and clinical professor of dermatology, New York University Medical Center, tells Cosmetic Surgery Times that he uses the DeScribe patch for tattoo removal using picosecond and q-switched lasers.

“I have found it helpful in facilitating faster tattoo removal and some pigmented lesions. It is also of value in patients with skin of color as the patches help protect epidermal melanin from injury,” Dr. Geronemus says.

The study appears in the October issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

Click here for more information on the PFD patch.


Dr. Biesman was principal investigator for the pivotal clinical trial for the DeScribe Transparent PFD Patch.

Dr. Geronemus is an investigator for Cynosure and performed the clinical trials on Cynosure’s PIcoSure. 

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