Blue Foot: A Second Case of “Tattoo Blow-out” Pigment Spread Successfully Treated With the QS-Nd:YAG Laser

November 2010 | Volume 9 | Issue 11 | Case Reports | 1429 | Copyright © November 2010

Shilpi Khetarpal BS, Matthew Molenda MD, Eric Seiger DO, John Pui MD, Suzan Obagi MD

The “tattoo blow-out” phenomenon occurs when tattoo pigments spread outside the border of a tattoo. It is thought to occur when ink is injected too deeply. A healthy 36-year-old female presented to a dermatologist with diffuse spread of tattoo pigment outside the original tattoo that occurred within one day of the placement of a professional tattoo on the dorsum of her foot. The patient was seeking treatment six weeks after the tattoo was placed because she thought the discoloration would improve or resolve on its own, but it worsened. Two punch biopsies were obtained for histology. The biopsy results confirmed granular black pigment consistent with a tattoo in the dermis and subcutaneous fat. The location of pigment was deeper than expected. Due to the success of the QS-Nd:YAG laser in a prior patient, the same treatment was recommended for this patient. The patient received nine laser sessions using the Q-switched laser at 1064 nm, 4 mm, 10 Hz, with gradually increasing energy from 4.5 to 6.0 J/cm2. The pigment outside of the original tattoo borders faded and is barely perceptible. It is important that physicians be made aware of tattoo complications so they can advise patients in regards to the associated risks.