Is your tattoo bothering you? There is a breakthrough in laser dermatology for you!


“Sonoillumination” is the name for a new and soon-to-be marketed technology that combines ultrasonic pulsation with a clinical laser, for a more efficient and safe removal of everything from tattoos to telangiectasias and port-wine stains to benign birthmarks.

Brainchild of Paul Whiteside, a doctoral candidate in engineering at Missouri University, was the creator of this novel technique that made waves at the annual conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery in April. It grasped the attention of many because it solves three major issues when compared to current lasers.

Specifically, lasers from sonoillumination can be more selectively absorbed by the targeted skin area, meaning lower-powered lasers can be used. The system makes direct contact with the skin, which translates into a lowered risk for eye damage because present-day lasers are typically held at a distance from the patient’s skin.

Additionally, Nicholas Golda, an associate professor of dermatology and director of dermatology surgery at the MU School of Medicine, suggests that sonoillumination could potentially lower the number of treatments needed.

Whiteside, along with his adviser Heather Hunt – an assistant professor of bioengineering in the MU College of Engineering – led a multidisciplinary team that tested the system on porcine skin samples, and their paper has been accepted for publication in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

The team is presently in the planning stages of developing a start-up company to commercialize the technique.


Written by: MaryAnne Pankhurst

Study titled: Ultrasonic modulation of tissue optical properties in ex vivo porcine skin to improve transmitted transdermal laser intensity.