The first thing you need to know about the tattoo removal clinic you’re considering is what type of laser they use. There are a lot of intricacies to the whole ink removal process, and many manufacturers of laser machines work on different methodologies. Lasers use powerful bursts of energy to shatter the pigments within a tattoo into tiny particles which are then expelled by your body.
We’ll give you an overview of the main machines and explain the science behind them.
AREN’T ALL TATTOO REMOVAL LASERS JUST USING WAVES TO BREAK DOWN THE INK?
Correct, but what makes the wave more or less effective is the wavelength used for the breakdown of the ink. The two most important features of a wavelength are:
1) How deep it penetrates the skin
2) What color(s) does it target.
Your skin has several layers. Different colors of ink settle in different layers of the skin. Black ink settles the deepest in the skin, blues and greens settle in the middle, while reds and oranges will stay at the surface of the skin. In order to successfully treat different ink shades, you need specific wavelengths to target each color and its depth within the skin. If your tattoo is multicolored or done with a mixture of different shades, you will need a machine that properly combines different wavelengths. The lasers that treat the specific colors are namely:
ND Yag 1064, breaks down the black/navy blue ink; Ruby 694, treats blue and green colors and the only wavelength that targets red/orange – the KTP 532. Machines that are most commonly used are the Q-SWITCHED laser.
WHICH TATTOO REMOVAL LASER WILL WORK FOR ME?
Where is your tattoo located? What is your overall health? What is the quality of the ink that’s been used? Which shades were used? Etc. etc. – you can expect these questions and more upon your first visit to a tattoo removal professional. You should entrust your skin only to the hands of the person who handles the whole process with care and has a good knowledge base. No one – and we repeat – no one should be able to tell you “I’ll get this done for you, it’ll be painless, cheap and quick and your skin will be the same like it was before.” Although each laser treatment only lasts a few minutes, there is no overall quick solution that is safe for your health and even the most renowned technology can’t serve as a 100% guarantee for full ink removal.
If you’ve decided you’ll go for the laser, pick the one that will work for you, at the clinic that has the staff who knows how to use the machine.
Here’s what we’ve found out when we were deciding on which technology to use:
PICOSURE tattoo removal laser is one of the newest lasers on the market that has drawn a lot of positive attention. The manufacturer’s main claims over the competition are:
1) That the treated area will heal more quickly;
2) That the treated ink will come off more easily (i.e. with fewer sessions).
PicoSure is an FDA-approved laser technology, whose bursts are measured in picoseconds (trillionths of a second) – which causes the tattoo ink to break apart into residue which is eliminated by the body. When compared to traditional nanosecond lasers, some professionals claim PicoSure to be more effective on stubborn colors and require fewer treatments to achieve final results.
However, the PicoSure laser only offers one wavelength – 755, that was one of the first wavelengths used in tattoo removal and has two main pitfalls – 1) it does not target specific ink colors and 2) it passes right by red ink and can stop short of deep black colors. Therefore, if your tattoo contains reds or oranges in its shade, it is less likely that this machine will be able to provide you with the result you expect. The PicoSure does give positive results in fading tattoos, but its wavelength inhibits it from hitting exactly where it should in the skin in order to have ideal responses for a complete removal.
On the other hand, Q-SWITCHED TECHNOLOGY features all the wavelengths needed for a wider spectrum of colors, best-in-class power, and a system built for reliability and safety. This machine delivers very short pulses at very high peak power (hundreds of Mega W), but has no thermal interaction with the surrounding tissue. Therefore, the possibility of scarring and skin damage is reduced, with providing maximum impact on the unwanted ink particles.
There are different Q-switched manufacturers out there, so if you opt for this method, once you go to the selected clinic for tattoo removal, make sure to ask what type of Q-switch lasers do they use.
WHAT’S OUR CHOICE? We’ve selected the Italian made Quanta Q-Plus C system, as it is the only FDA approved laser on the market that offers three combined wavelengths (1064, 694 and 532). It is the only laser that has the capabilities to successfully remove a full spectrum of color.
DOES THIS HURT? Of all patients who came to us with having experienced both PicoSure and the “Q-switched” technology, claims differed from one to another: some claimed that PicoSure laser was slightly less painful, other that it was the Q-switched. The truth is – this is all individual, but with a proper specialist, the sensation of laser removal should be sort of “stingy” as if somebody is snapping an elastic band against your skin repeatedly.
The new-generation Q-Switched lasers target your ink without damaging heat. They’re designed to protect your surrounding skin. However, they do still generate some heat and discomfort, just like all lasers. That’s why it’s important for a clinic of your choice to provide you with a proper cooling method, such as a chiller, to ease the discomfort and provide care for the skin.
SO WHAT DOES A TATTOO LASER LOOK LIKE? Most people have the misconception that the laser would be touching their skin and dragging, similar to a tattoo gun. However, it is held a few inches away from the tattoo area and you are given special protective glasses to wear so that you can watch the process.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M IN THE RIGHT TATTOO REMOVAL CLINIC?
Aside from tattoo removal, various skin conditions can be treated by laser – freckles, acne, scars etc. If possible, it is good to choose a tattoo removal clinic that specializes in tattoo removal and has staff experienced in this specific procedure.
The initial tattoo removal consultation where you choose to go should be free. You should feel comfortable to ask any question that may concern you r20method- and satisfied with the clarity and professional level of responses you get.
Firstly, we need to understand if the tattoo is about to be gone for good, or are you thinking of covering it up or changing some parts of it that you are not happy with. As this is a lengthy journey, it’s best we discuss your expectations and plans throughout the months to follow the first treatment. Some patients are eager to get the removal started as they’re deeply unsatisfied. We know where you are coming from and need to understand where you want to go, so that we can help you in the best way possible. Getting to know your plans and habits, establishing good communication and being aware of your demeanor is what will make the whole process a lot easier for you.
I WANT TO KNOW YOU KNOW YOUR BUSINESS
A good practitioner will interact with you and guide you through the process – and you should be able to communicate any potential discomfort.
Not all treatments start at the same pace. It is customary for the first visit to start with short, light attacks on the ink, just so that the professional sees how your skin reacts to the laser and how you personally are coping with the experience. A good and experienced practitioner will know when to add power to the beam and to what extent as it pertains to your skin type & ink density. Bear in mind that even if you think the process may be slow, it is so in order to get the most out of a single treatment, but by preserving your skin at the same time too.
As the most important factor in skin recovery is the pre- and post-treatment care, your practitioner should provide you with detailed instruction on what you should and shouldn’t do before and after your session. You should be able to reach them if you have any kind of concern, especially in the recovery period.