The letters "P. L." tattooed on the left forearm were evident in a badly
decomposed body examined a fortnight after death.59 A faded tattoo-mark
may be revealed by the use of the ultra-violet lamp, or may be rendered
Fig. 15.—Designs of Tattoo-marks.
visible by rubbing the part and examining it with a magnifying lens in
Artificial removal of Tattoo-marks.—These may be removed artificially
(1) by the surgical method, (2) by electrolysis, and (3) by the application
of caustic substances.
(1) Surgical Method.—The earliest surgical method employed for the
removal of tattoo-marks was the production of a burn by the application of
a red-hot iron to the design. When the dead tissue sloughed off, it took the
tattoo-mark with it but usually left a bad scar in its place. The use of
carbon dioxide now produces similar results. The simplest surgical method
used at present is the excision of the tattoo-marks with or without skin
grafting. This is quite a successful method but is always followed by some
Lacassagne and J. Rousel60 recommend the scarification of the tattooed
spots and then sprinkling over with finely powdered potassium permanga-
nate. After a few days the scab falls off, and a smooth, colourless, almost
unscarred skin appears.
(2) Electrolysis.—Miller61 suggests electrolysis for the removal of
tattoo-marks by means of a needle attached to the negative pole of a battery
in order to get the softening action of the alkali formed there. After the
pigment is laid bare by the needle, it is scraped and picked away, as the
softening action of the alkali continues on the tissues in which the pigment
is deposited. Another method is to insert the needle into the tattoo-mark
a sufficient number of times, using a current of 5 to 8 milliamperes. This
59. K. E. v. Mangali, All. H. Crfc. Criminal Appeal No. 149 of 1921.
60. Bull. Soc. Franc. Dermat. 37, No. 4, 1930 ; Ars. Medici, Nov. 30, 1930, p. 124.
61. Electrolysis for the Removal of Tattoo-marks, Medical Council, Philadelphia, 13,
374, 1908 ; Jour, Amer. Med. Assoc., Jan. 14, 1928, p. 94.