If you’re considering laser tattoo removal to get rid of an unwanted tattoo, you might want to know what lasers work well. Laser tattoo removal can be a bit of a complicated thing; no doubt you’ve come across a lot of information and are a bit confused about what laser might be best for your tattoo.
We want to discuss with you the top three lasers that are used for laser tattoo removal. The first part of this article discusses the type of laser technology. These names are generic for the type of laser (not brand). The second list includes will name brands of each type (think Kleenex, Puffs, etc.). Putting these two lists together will help you as you shop around and research the best laser practice for your tattoo.
First, here are the generic laser types. This lasers may have different brand names, but that they all incorporate one (or more), specific wavelength(s) of light to remove specific colors of tattoo ink:
- Practitioners most commonly use Q-switched Nd:Yag (and double frequency Nd:Yag) lasers for tattoo removal because these lasers possess two wavelengths and can effectively treat various ink colors. One is a 1064 nm (nanometer) wavelength of light, frequently referred to as just Nd:Yag. The other is a 532 nm wavelength, which is a double frequency Nd:Yag. The 1064 nm is great for black, blue, deep purple and other dark colors of tattoo ink, and the 532 nm is best for red ink. We also use this laser for all the colors in between (yellow, orange, pale blue, green, etc.), but we inform our patients that treating these colors with this laser may require more overall sessions. Usually, in our practice, it’s anywhere between 5 and 15.
- Q-switched ruby: This laser uses a 694 nm wavelength of light. It is effective for treating green and other darkly colored tattoo inks.
- Q-switched alexandrite: Also with a 694 nm wavelength, this laser can treat green ink along with other dark colors.
Now, onto the specific brands of these lasers:
- Hoya Conbio Medlite (C3, C4, C6 and Revlite): This device is a q-switched Nd:Yag/double frequency Nd:Yag. The 1064 nm/532 nm wavelength combination of this laser makes it one of the most versatile and most readily used devices around the world for laser tattoo removal.
- The Palomar Q-Yag 5 features another dual q-switched Nd:Yag laser equipped with both 1064 nm and 532 nm wavelengths. It is like the Hoya Conbio device, but it has a special feature that allows the practitioner to mix the 1064 nm and 532 nm wavelengths. This is unique and valuable when treating a tattoo on a patient with a darker skin type (color).
- Picosure (and other picosecond lasers): This brand and others like it are newer in the market for tattoo removal devices. They are heavily marketed to be able to remove tattoos in less treatments. Using a shorter burst of light (which these lasers have) may help remove tattoos in fewer treatments, but this comes at a price. Owners of picosecond lasers are charging twice as much for procedures and in many cases not getting rid of them twice as fast.
So, remember when considering laser tattoo removal that both the type and brand of lasers matter in determining the result of your treatment.