Pico Lasers vs. Q-switched Lasers for Tattoo Removal

Remember when you were considering getting that tattoo and everyone told you that you better make sure you really think about it before committing because tattoos are forever? Well, that’s no longer technically true. There have been advances in tattoo removal systems. Some of the earlier options included dermabrasion; which removes layers of the dermis and epidermis to remove your ink, skin excision; which is the surgical removal of the tattooed skin, and tattoo removal creams; which promise the removal of your tattoo with a lotion-like cream.

Pico Lasers vs. Q-switched Lasers for Tattoo Removal

Those methods were not only painful, but they also left visible damage to the skin or simply weren’t truly effective at removing tattoos. Thanks to advances in laser technology, if you want to remove a tattoo, you can do so much more effectively and without damaging your skin. If you have a tattoo that you want to get removed – for any reason at all – you’ve got much better options today for how to do so.

The two most common types of lasers are the Q-switch lasers and the PicoSure laser for tattoo removal. Below, we will go over how laser tattoo removal works, the main differences between the two lasers, general tattoo removal costs, and whom to turn to when you find yourself searching for ‘tattoo removal near me’.

How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?

The process of getting a tattoo involves ink injection into the skin through a needle. The needle can be a singular needle poked by hand, which is often referred to as a ‘stick n poke’ tattoo, or by a tattoo gun, which is a machine that pricks the skin thousands of times per minute. The ink goes into the dermis, the layer of skin below the epidermis.

When you get a tattoo removed with a laser, the laser is applied to the area of skin where the tattoo is. The heat from the laser shatters the ink particles in your dermis, starting with the topmost or most shallow layer of ink. The particles of shattered ink are then flushed out through your lymphatic system. It takes multiple sessions of laser tattoo removal to remove your tattoo completely. The number of sessions and the tattoo removal cost will depend on a few factors such as how old the tattoo is (older tattoos are easier to remove because your body’s immune and lymphatic system have already started wearing down some of the ink), what colors are in the tattoo (black and grey are easier to remove than colors), the type of laser used, and how your body responds to treatment. Every body is different so what works best for someone else might not work best for you.

What is a Q Switch Laser?

Q switch laser is a type of laser tattoo removal that’s non-invasive and effectively removes tattoos without damaging the skin. The first commercially available type of laser specifically made for tattoo removal was a Q-switched laser in 1983. The phrase ‘Q switch’ refers to the type of pulse that’s created by the laser. Instead of a continuous laser beam, like traditional lasers, the Q switch creates a photo-thermal pulse beam that lasts about one billionth of a second. The pulses are strong enough yet brief enough to shatter the ink without damaging any skin. They were originally considered to be the gold standard of tattoo removal, but with advances in laser technology, they’re quickly being outpaced by Pico lasers for tattoo removal.

What is a Pico Laser?

A Pico laser is like the Q switch, but it’s faster and more effective. Pico lasers for tattoo removal were given FDA approval for use in 2012. They use photomechanical technology lasers to deliver rapid pules – which are one trillionth of a second – to the tattoo to shatter the ink. Patients who use the Pico lasers for tattoo removal typically receive fewer treatments overall, which reduces the overall tattoo removal cost and reports a faster recovery time after each session. Pico lasers are also better at targeting colored ink than their predecessors are.

When it comes to tattoo removal, any laser option is going to be better for your skin than the older and more abrasive methods of removal. At Colorado Skin and Vein, we use the PiQo4 Pico laser for tattoo removal, which is the newest and fastest version of the Pico laser and our patients are more than satisfied with the removal process. But don’t just take our word for it; scroll through these incredible tattoo removal before and after shots to see the laser in action. To learn more about laser tattoo removal or to schedule an appointment with our team, contact us today!

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