Types Of Lasers: The Ink Colors They Treat & Their Side Effects
Today, laser tattoo removal specialists use three different types of Q-switched lasers, and each are more useful than the other in removing certain ink colors. Because heat is produced by these lasers and the skin’s layers are penetrated at various depths, there are some side effects to consider. And despite the picosecond laser revolutionizing the art of tattoo removal when it was introduced in 2013, it too comes with side effects and breaks up some ink pigments better than others.
Q-switched Ruby laser:The light wavelength of 694nm makes this useful for removing blue, black and green pigments.
- Side effects: scarring, change in the skin’s texture, hypopigmentation, hyperpigmentation
Q-switched Nd:YAG laser: This laser can operate alone at a wavelength of 1064nm , or with a frequency-doubling crystal to shorten the wavelength to 532nm .
- Side effects: According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, hyperpigmentation and textural changes are potential side effects, but they are infrequent, and the incidence of hypopigmentation is a lot lower than with the ruby laser.
Q-switched Alexandrite laser: This laser operates at a wavelength of 755nm, which resides between those of the ruby and neodymium: YAG lasers. It is excellent for the removal of green, blue and black tattoos.
- Side effects: textural changes and transient hypopigmentation
Im Nervous About Scarring
20 years ago, right when laser tattoo removal became a more common procedure, then this worry would be warranted. Today, the technology is so incredibly advanced that you will not experience any scarring.
The lasers are firing so quickly that the skin cells surrounding the tattoo ink are not affected. The only thing that is being targeted by the laser is the tattoo ink.
What Is The Best Tattoo Removal Laser
While Picosecond lasers can remove nearly any color ink, theres no single model that takes care of everything.
A laser with a 755nm wavelength is best for green and blue ink. A wavelength of 532nm gets rid of red, orange, yellow, and brown. A 1064nm wavelength is the best choice for black and some other dark colors.
If you want all the colors in your rainbow-colored tattoo to fade away, youll need to find a shop with more than one laser. The Untattoo Parlor uses two lasers that, in combination, can remove nearly any color.
The Enlighten Cutera has been our laser of choice since March 2015. Weve recently acquired a PicoSure laser. With these two weapons in our arsenal, we can eradicate a full range of colors, including green and blue.
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Why Diy Methods Of Removing Tattoos Are Dangerous
Weve been in the business of helping people remove old tattoos long enough to understand that some people may be desperate to remove their ink. However, doing it at home or without the supervision of a professional will certainly cause more harm than good. Common complications from at-home removal methods can include infection, permanent scarring, hyperpigmentation, and hypopigmentation.
Over a decade ago, there were very different tattoo removal methods that were popular, like infrared treatments. We still have patients who come in that are hoping to clean up the damage caused by the other treatments theyve tried over the years. In particular, we still get a lot of patients who attempted infrared tattoo removal in the past and encountered side effects, like burning, infections, and extended recovery times. This treatment looked like someone had applied a cigarette multiple times to the tattoo.
|Before: a star ankle tattoo post-infrared treatments 13 years ago.||After: results after two laser removal treatments with MEDermis.|
We dont share these stories to shock or scare you, but to warn you of the real danger in choosing the wrong tattoo removal method.
Types Of Laser Wavelengths Used For Tattoo Removal
Typically, there are two wavelengths utilized to target tattoo ink. The two most commonly used wavelengths are 1064 nm and 532 nm. Each wavelength is best utilized for a variety of ink pigments across the spectrum.
Its important to invest in a laser that operates with multiple wavelengths available to target all ink pigments from a variety of skin tones. Learn about the best wavelengths to use on different skin types here.
The following lasers are currently available on the market in both picosecond and q-switched pulse durations:
- Q-switched Nd: YAG laser . The 1064 nm wavelength is FDA approved to remove black and tribal blues. The 532 nm wavelength is useful for removing red and reducing orange, purple, and other warm toned colors.
- Q-switched alexandrite laser which is useful for removing difficult light blue and green pigments.
- Q-switched ruby laser which is useful for removing difficult light blue and green pigments.
As you can see, wavelength is a light spectrum. 1064 nm lives in the infrared category of wavelengths which means that it is not visible to the human eye. 532 785 nm live within the visible light spectrum. 755 nm and 694 nm are better wavelengths for treating greens and blues and 532 nm is best for treating orange and red ink pigments. Unlike 1064 nm, the 532 nm requires a longer pulse duration due to the wavelength which creates more heat that is released into the skin.
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Fitzpatrick Scale Skin Types
Skin type I: Pale skin that burns very easily and never tans. Individuals with this skin type usually have eyes that are blue or green and hair that is blonde or red.
Skin type II: Fair skin that almost never tans and instead burns most of the time. People with this skin type usually have blonde hair and gray or blue eyes.
Skin type III: Skin that is fair, with a golden undertone. Individuals with this skin type usually have eyes that are brown or hazel in color and hair that is brown or dark blonde. They may burn but usually tan easily.
Skin type IV: Skin that is light brown or brown, with an olive undertone, accompanied usually by dark brown eyes and hair. People with this skin type may sometimes experience a mild sunburn, although they tend to tan uniformly.
Skin type V: Skin that is brown to dark brown, with eyes that usually are dark brown and hair that is black or dark brown. Individuals with skin type V burn very minimally in the sun and almost always tan.
Skin type VI: dark brown to black skin, brown or brown-black eyes, and black hair. Individuals with this skin type generally never burn when in the sun and almost always tan.
How Lasers Work To Remove Tattoos
The lasers used in the tattoo removal process break down these artificial pigments, thus removing the tattoo from the persons skin. However, there are certain requirements that must be met to ensure that only the targeted skin area is treated with the laser so as not to damage surrounding tissue. The requirements are:
- Penetration of the laser should be sufficient enough to reach the tattoo pigment.
- The color of the laser must correspond to the absorbability of the pigment. For example, red lasers are used to treat green skin pigments2.
- Duration of the laser blast must be precisely timed to avoid scarring and burning of surrounding skin tissues. In tattoo removal, laser blasts should only last nanoseconds.
- Sufficient energy is required for the laser to break down tattoo pigments. If energy is too high, it could damage the skin tissues. If it is too low, no pigment fragmentation will occur3.
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Types Of Lasers Used For Tattoo Removal
There are two main sub-categories of lasers used today: Q-switched lasers and picosecond lasers. Q-switched lasers make up the majority of tattoo removal lasers, and each Q-switched laser subcategory is best used for certain inks and situations.
Picosecond lasers are newer than Q-switched lasers and are effective on more ink colors at once, including a few colors that are more difficult to remove.
Choosing The Best Type Of Laser Tattoo Removal
Are you tired of looking at that old boyfriends name tattooed on your wrist or that barbed wire/tribal thing going on around your bicep? According to a recent study, 40% of adults in the United States ages 26-40 have at least one tattoo. Tattoos have become so prevalent in society today that it has become a $1.65 billion industry and not surprisingly, 1 in 5 people who have a tattoo have considered getting it removed.
Laser tattoo removal has come a long way in just a few short years. There are two main types of laser tattoo removal procedures: PicoSure and Q-switched Nd:YAG.
Q-switched Nd:YAG lasers are used mostly for corrective eye surgery, dentistry and removal of skin cancer. The lasers pulse the targeted area in nanoseconds to heat the ink underneath the skin. Q-switched lasers are effective, but PicoSure laser removal has rapidly become the gold standard in laser tattoo removal.
PicoSure lasers deliver rapid pulses in picosecondsliterally, a trillionth of a secondto the tattooed area to break up the small tattoo ink particles. While traditional Q-switched lasers deliver photo-thermal pulses that heat the skin and surrounding tissues, PicoSure uses photomechanical technology to shatter the tattoo particles.
PicoSure patients report shorter recovery time compared to Q-switched lasers and fewer treatments to remove the tattoo. PicoSure laser tattoo removal can even remove stubborn blue and green ink and can be used in areas that have already been laser treated.
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How Many Sessions Does It Take To Remove A Tattoo
So we know how the whole process works, but in general, how long does it take to remove a tattoo? It varies from person to person and is impossible to predict, says Dr Fiona Worsnop, NHS & Harley Street Consultant Dermatologist. Its affected by both people factors and ink factors. In terms of people factors, each individual is different and will respond differently to the removal process, she adds.
The skin of the person undergoing removal is a big factor things like the skins texture , laxity , hydration, and collagen concentration should all be taken into consideration and will cause the session lengths to vary. One step anyone undergoing treatment should take, says Dr. Worsnop, is to protect your skin with a sun-safe skincare routine and use moisturising sunscreen with high SPF and UVA 4* or above protection when exposing your treatment area to direct sunlight within two weeks of your treatment. This can have a big impact on reducing redness after treatment – and generally improves outcomes, she explains .
Finally, theres which method of laser tattoo removal you go for. Full removal could take as little as 4 months with newer, lower energy options, or as long as 1-2 years with more traditional options that require more healing time for the skin. Overall, its a gradual process that requires a little patience – you wont see results overnight. You can find more information onhow long tattoo removal takes here.
Some Toronto Tattoo Removal Stories
In almost 20 years of performing Toronto tattoo removal our Doctors have had thousands of success stories. Many patients regret a tattoo almost immediately, we have even had patients come directly from the Tattoo Shop, without even booking an appointment!
Usually patients feel they have outgrown the tattoo an image or script they related to in their teens or twenties no longer has any meaning for them. Or it might be the name of an ex-partner they want to remove.
Some patients come before an important event removing a visible tattoo before a wedding is a common reason. Or before an important job interview or possible promotion.
Quite a few patients visit us first for another treatment, Botox for example. And, over time, they start to think of getting rid of that old, faded tattoo as well. In many cases, the tattoo just doesnt fit their lifestyle anymore, a tattoo of a band they loved when they were 16 might be reminder of awful that music sounds to them today. Or the name of a long-lost romance form 20 years ago no longer sits well with their new partner or spouse.
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Chemical Peel Tattoo Removal
Trichloroacetic acid peels can also be used to remove tattoos. TCA is a mild acid that is applied to the skin to remove the outer layers of the skin, and with them, the tattoo ink.
This type of procedure may be mildly painful, but typically does not require the use of an anesthetic.
Like the other types of tattoo removal, TCA peels will result in an open wound that will need to be cared for after the procedure is completed. Daily cleaning with soap and water, application of an antibiotic ointment and a dressing are all that is necessary. These wounds will typically heal in approximately 5-7 days.
Faster And Fewer Treatments
Unlike the Q-switched laser, which required many sessions, the PicoSures PressureWave technology shatters ink into particles that are 1,000 times smaller than the majority of tattoo removal lasers. The ink is then encapsulated and eliminated, resulting in clearer skin in fewer treatments, without damaging the surrounding skin. However, there is a huge variation depending on the size, color, body location and depth/intensity/type of ink used. With this unique technology, an average size tattoo may be 90% removed in as little as 4 treatments, while a Q-switched laser can easily take twice as many treatments, without full clearance. For optimal results, each treatment should be spaced 6-8 weeks apart.
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Ruby Nd: Yag Alexandrite Pico
So youve finally decided to zap that tatt. Congratulations! Youre not alone. As much as 48% of the population in Australia are tattooed, and as many as 50% of the people eventually want to have laser tattoo removal.
Happily, theres good news for those who have an unwanted body design. Newer tattoo removal techniques can eliminate tattoos with minimal side effects. Even the most seemingly stubborn tattoos disappear with the latest innovations in laser technology, leaving that unsightly mistake nothing but a memory.Laser tattoo removal works by targeting pigment colours in the skins dermis, the layer of skin between the epidermis and subcutaneous tissues.The science behind laser tattoo removal is nothing short of magic. Laser tattoo removal works by targeting pigment colours in the skins dermis, the layer of skin between the epidermis and subcutaneous tissues. Light beams radiated by the laser are absorbed by tattoo pigments, which then fragment. The body then absorbs and eliminates the pigment fragments.
Some people see results immediately. But most have to undergo a series of treatments before they see a significant difference. The number of sessions depends on the amount and type of ink used and how deeply it was injected. Also you must wait six weeks to eight weeks between sessions to allow the pigment residue to be absorbed and eliminated by the body. But patience pays off when it comes to laser tattoo removalbefore you know it, that tattoo will be long gone.
About Laser Tattoo Removal
Q-switch lasers are often used in the removal of tattoos. Q-switching is a technique in which a laser is used to generate a pulsed output beam in the nanosecond range. The light pulses produced penetrate the layers of skin, where they reach the ink pigment and break it up. The body then uses its natural elimination process to expel the ink from the body. After multiple sessions , the tattoo fades or is completely removed.
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Can The Laser Tattoo Treatments Lighten An Existing Tattoo
Many tattoo artists encourage customers to receive a minimum number of laser treatments to lighten an existing tattoo before covering it with a new one. This will dramatically reduce any chance of the old tattoo appearing through the new one.
In some cases, a minimum of 2-4 treatments is all thats required to lighten an existing tattoo. It does depend on the colors in the existing tattoo. If there are colors in the existing tattoo that will not fade as well as others, more treatments may be needed.
Schedule A Free Consultation With Medermis Laser Clinic Today
With over 12 years of laser tattoo removal experience and nearly 300,000 removals, the technicians at MEDermis Laser Clinic are the most trusted and effective removal specialists in San Antonio and Austin, TX. We use only the best laser technology available the Spectra laser system to ensure your tattoo removal is painless, safe and effective. Were also one of the first laser removal companies to offer a guarantee for our services if your tattoo isnt removed within our estimated number of sessions, well continue treating the area at no additional cost to you for one full year.
Schedule your free consultation today by completing our online scheduling form or speaking with one of our specialists at or .
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Get Rid Of Your Tattoo Safely And Successfully
Tattoo eliminations can cause some rather awful side results, like pain. But do not fret! Some of these damaging reactions are a indication that your body is starting to respond positively and damaging down the ink you were as soon as so pleased with.
Types Of Laser Tattoo Removal Machines
Whitewashes can be an easy means to disguise tattoos. If you don’t like the design but would still want another tattoo in its place, they are a good option. Types Of Laser Tattoo Removal Machines