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If you keep up with the latest news in laser tattoo removal, then you know that the PicoSure laser is the “latest and greatest” to hit the scene. What’s different about it is that it delivers a burst of light in a slightly faster pulse than other tattoo removal lasers—a picosecond rather than a nanosecond. What makes it better? Well, the theory is that this increased speed breaks up the ink particles into smaller “bits” that the body can then clear away more quickly and in larger numbers per treatment compared to nanosecond devices. This means faster clearance of a tattoo and total clearance in fewer treatments.
When patients come in asking about the PicoSure, we explain this to them, but what the direct-to-consumer marketing doesn’t inform them about is the type of light this laser uses. It is a 755 nm wavelength, which isn’t the same as most other lasers used for tattoo removal. The Nd:Yag is the most common, which utilizes a 1064/532 nm wavelength. Remember, tattoos consist of colored ink particles embedded within the skin, and the most common color used is black. The optimal color absorbed by a 755 nm wavelength is green.
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia that may help you better understand how the q-switched 755 nm (Alexandrite) laser works and the reasons why it’s not the best for most dark-colored tattoos:
“Q-switched Alexandrite: 755 nm. The weakest of all the q-switched devices and somewhat similar to the Ruby laser in that the Alexandrite creates a red light which is highly absorbed by green and dark tattoo pigments. However, the alexandrite laser color is slightly less absorbed by melanin, so this laser has a slightly lower incidence of unwanted pigmentary changes than a ruby laser. This laser works well on green tattoos but because of its weaker peak power it works only moderately well on black and blue ink. It does not work at all (or very minimally) on red, orange, yellow, brown, etc. This laser wavelength is also available in a picosecond speed with anecdotal claims that it removes ink faster.” **
** Reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo_removal.
We understand that if you have an unwanted tattoo, you want to find the fastest, most effective, safe and cost-effective way to get rid of it. But, laser medicine is a highly technical and complex field that not everyone (even some practitioners) can understand. Just like tattoo artists, there are different levels of skill and knowledge when it comes to laser tattoo removal practitioners. Finding one that has the proper expertise, skill and knowledge of laser physics along with the right laser for your tattoo color is your best bet to get the best outcome. The PicoSure laser might be the right choice of laser for you, but it might not be. It depends on the colors you have in your tattoo.
Be responsible and do your homework. Don’t fall for advertising, flashy marketing or other gimmicks. Research which lasers use wavelengths that are appropriate for the colors in your tattoo and then find a good laser practitioner with lots of experience using that device and treating other patients of your skin type (color). We promise you that this is the best way to get the results you’re looking for!