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Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2013 Aug;29(4):218-20. doi: 10.1111/phpp.12039.

Second-degree burn within a tattoo after intense-pulsed-light epilation.

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Department for Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, Academic Hospital Feldkirch, Feldkirch, Austria.


The use of high energy light sources [laser, intense pulsed light (IPL)] is booming in aesthetic surgery. A trend, especially concerning usage of photoepilation in cosmetic institutes, is detectable. Photoepilation works through selective photothermolysis, by heating the chromophore melanin within the hair follicles. We present a case impressionably demonstrating that high-energy light demands profound knowledge of its mechanism of action, and can cause severe harm in absence of basic knowledge. Photoepilation is a balancing act between maximal therapeutic effect and minimal side effect risk. Nevertheless, complications have to be clearly distinguished from professional errors. The latter are rising especially with IPL devices, mainly because its use depicts a legal grey area in most of the countries and is not bound to physicians' supervision. Due to its worse risk-benefit profile as compared with that of laser therapy, we advise against the use of IPL devices and claim for stricter regulation of its use, similar to laser devices.


IPL; burn; hair removal; laser; photoepilation

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