We’ll explain why different lasers can remove certain coloured pigment, and others cannot, so depending on your tattoo, you can choose the best laser.
The major classes of laser tattoo removal machines are the range of Q-switched lasers to IPL machines. We think our picosecond Q-switched laser is the most effective and efficient laser tattoo removal system on the market, with our machine one of just three in Australia.
Whence we came…
Before laser tattoo removal came along, it was nigh on impossible to remove a tattoo. You could maybe fade it, but complete removal was not going to happen unless you physically scrubbed it off or cut it out, leaving an ugly scar.
In the early days, people were applying acids, like lime juice or vinegar, or undergoing microdermabrasion, scrubs, or surgery. Q-switched lasers now dominate the laser tattoo removal scene, but not all tattoo removal lasers are created equal. Knowing your stuff when it comes to making your laser tattoo removal decision will matter in the amount of time it takes, the money it costs, and the pain you endure.
How laser tattoo removal works
A tattoo is a collection of ink particles buried in the skin. When you apply the right kind of laser to this pigment, what you are actually doing is breaking up this pigment into tiny pieces so that your body can scavenge the pigment and remove it via normal excretion methods. That is, it gets absorbed into your lymphatic system, and then escorted out of your body forever.
Your channels of elimination include your lymphatic system, bowel, kidneys, liver and yes, the skin. This is an immune process to eliminate foreign objects from your tissue, and it is very effective so long as the bits of pigment are small enough to go inside your body and out the other side.
Different wavelengths break up different colours, which is why most laser tattoo removal machines simply cannot remove all colours. The lasers are not capable of spitting out the right frequencies, which is why sometimes we may need to use a couple of different machines to get your tattoo removed properly.
Why intense pulsed light (IPL) machines are useless at removing tattoos
IPL lasers work in milliseconds, unlike Q-switched lasers, which work in nanoseconds, or our picosecond laser, which works even faster. IPL has a broad beam, so it’s less effective over a broader area – which works well when doing a skin treatment or laser hair removal, but for something as specific as laser tattoo removal, we need a fast, deep, effective beam of energy.
Beaming energy rapidly and powerfully into the pigment to burst it apart is key to successful laser tattoo removal treatments – we are trying to fragment the pigment without damaging surrounding skin, which is no mean feat.
Q-switched lasers with dye attachments
Q-switched lasers work in nanoseconds, but not all Q-switched lasers are the same, and so care must be taken if choosing a Q-switched laser for laser tattoo removal treatments. Any Q-switched laser with dye attachments – that is, an attachment designed to allow the laser to break up different coloured pigment – can have a significant loss of power and work less efficiently.
Q-switched laser – picosecond laser (which we think is the best!)
A picosecond laser is the fastest tattoo removal laser around, and the kind we use at our Melbourne clinic. These machines are much more expensive than other types, but remove tattoos of almost all colours in half the time with half the pain.
Contact us for more information on laser tattoo removal at our Melbourne clinic.