Many patients have asked me, “Dr. Boey, there are so many clinics with lasers for tattoo ink removal. I don’t want to waste money. How do I know which Laser treatment is suitable for me?”
My answer: You probably won’t.
There are so much medical jargon and marketing campaigns floating around in the aesthetics field these days that it’s easy to be lost in it. Different clinics like to name their lasers differently when most of them are really just using one of a few mainstream lasers for tattoo.
It can get really confusing.
You mean not all clinics use the latest proven technology?
So many lasers.. how to tell which is which?
You can’t blame the clinics for managing their cash flow, but you can be wiser and get better value for money. Old technology like the Q-switched still works, but it won’t be as effective as recent improvements like the Picosecond Laser.
Hail the Picosecond Laser
Having worked in several clinics, I have found that different types and brands of lasers have varying levels of effectiveness in removing Tattoo Ink.
Tattoo removal works on the concept of delivering large amounts of energy to shatter tattoo pigments which are then absorbed by your body’s immune system.
A Picosecond Laser is the latest and most effective Laser Technology for Tattoo Removal. This supercedes older technology known as “Q-switched Lasers”, which are also used for Pigment/Tattoo removal.
The difference is that Picosecond Lasers can emit laser beams with Higher Peak Power and Shorter Pulse Duration, which equates to more effective and safer treatments.
Essentially, final results are achieved twice as quickly with less risk of complications such as scarring and pigmentary changes.
Picosecond Lasers can remove tattoos with 80-90% improvement in 4-5 sessions.
In contrast, inferior lasers may require double the sessions to deliver similar results. Some lasers may not even deliver results at all despite more than 10 sessions. Inferior lasers can also cause scarring and worsen the pigmentation, making it even harder to remove subsequently.
10 Sessions of Nanosecond Q-Switch lasers cost $1500. Comparatively, 4 sessions of Picosecond laser only costs about $1200. Picosecond lasers also save you on recovery time and repeated clinic visits.
The brand of Picosecond Laser actually matters
Picosecond Laser is a technology, but the brand actually determines its quality. Ask your doctor specifically for the brand of the machine and do your due diligence. I use Lutronic’s latest PicoPlus Laser (First in Singapore) but I’m sure there are other reliable brands as well.
Additionally, look out for the reputation of the laser company, number of clinics that carry the same machine as well as the doctor’s experience in that particular Laser.
Tip: Ask your Doctor to show you Published Research Papers using their machine. While not all lasers have research publications, all top Picosecond Lasers will have these. Most doctors will be more than happy to share more about the science behind their lasers.
Different tattoo colours require different wavelengths
Apart from the depth of ink, the Color of Tattoo Ink is the most important factor in terms of successful tattoo removal. Plainly put, Black tattoos are a lot easier to remove than Yellow Tattoos.
This means that you should go for Picosecond Lasers with multiple wavelengths if you have multi-colour tattoos. This is exactly why I bought the Picoplus Laser recently: it has all 4 wavelengths to completely eradicate tattoo pigmentation.
Black tattoos are the easiest colour to remove. Using the 1064nm on Picosecond lasers, black tattoos can be cleared 50% faster than with traditional Q-switched laser.
Red tattoos– 532nm wavelength can clear reds 50% faster than with previous nanosecond lasers.
Green tattoos – 660nm
Blue tattoo – 595nm
Quality post-care is ESSENTIAL for best results
Research has shown that Picosecond Lasers are safer than Q-switch lasers for tattoo removal. However, there is no 100% safety.
Meticulous post-laser regimes are still very important to ensure shorter recovery time and lesser side-effects.
The two most common side-effects of Laser tattoo removal are pigmentary changes and scarring.
To mitigate these risks, I use a combination of Anti-Inflammatory Steroid Creams and Antibiotic creams immediately post-laser as well as for home-use, until full recovery.
In addition, I also use Low-Level Light Therapy immediately post-laser to reduce inflammation and stimulate recovery.
Do not underestimate the importance of post-laser care! You might end up having to do even more laser sessions!
Tattoo removal technology has improved greatly in recent years. To get the best results and avoid wasting money, make sure you find the best combination of doctor and laser.
My suggestion is to go for a good picosecond laser that can utilise 4 different wavelengths for maximal pigmentation removal. Remember that the doctor’s experience in using the laser matters a lot too!
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