Perhaps the most under-considered laser tattoo removal success factor is the laser itself. Understanding the science and physics behind laser tattoo removal will help you make an educated decision so you choose the right tattoo removal clinic for you and your tattoo ink colors.
In this post, the experts at Bare Tattoo & Hair Removal of Greater Chicago will review the science behind tattoo removal. Focus will be on how ink colors play a role in the removal process. We will discuss aspects of laser tattoo removal besides ink colors in future posts so stay tuned for those and take a look at our bloc archives.
Why Do Ink Colors Matter for Laser Tattoo Removal?
Ink colors are important because different wavelengths of light are absorbed by different tattoo ink colors. The right wavelength will be attracted to the ink and “shatter” it into pieces that your body will metabolize. The wrong wavelength won’t target the ink at all and no change in the appearance of the tattoo will occur. Q-Switched lasers are the specific type of lasers designed for laser tattoo removal.
Not all tattoo removal clinics have lasers with the right wavelengths. The right wavelengths for tattoo removal at appropriate energy will help to properly remove a colorful tattoo with:
- Speed – as few treatments as possible and thus, as little time as possible
- Safety – minimal risks of scarring, hypopigmentation (loss of skin pigment) or hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin pigment)
- Efficacy – best laser tattoo removal results or “clearance”
Some clinics will “give it a try” and take your money even though they know the laser isn’t effective on your particular ink color.
What Tattoo Ink Colors are Easiest to Remove?
Black and Grey tattoo inks are the easiest to remove. Most clinics will have a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser with a1064 nm wavelength. This is especially effective on black and grey ink colors.
Red inks are typically the second easiest to remove. A 532 nm wavelength will target red ink. It can also be effective on some brown inks, orange inks and yellow inks.
What Tattoo Ink Colors Don’t Respond Well to Laser Tattoo Removal?
Blue, green, and purple can all be difficult. These tattoo ink colors typically respond best to a 694 nm wavelength. The 694 wavelength is much less common within the tattoo removal industry. If you have one of these ink colors, make sure the clinic you’re considering has this wavelength.
Bare Tattoo & Hair Removal uses a Quanta Q Plus C laser in our Chicago offices. This advanced laser has all three wavelengths (1064, 532, 694) to target all tattoo colors. Our Munster, Indiana office has a RevLite SI laser that delivers a 1064 nm, 532 nm, 585 nm, and 650 nm. Though slightly different, this range of wavelengths on the RevLite also covers full color spectrum of tattoo inks. Both lasers are among the most advanced and best tattoo removal lasers.
Picosecond vs. Nanosecond Laser Technology
Some people will ask about the Picosure laser or pico laser technology. It is touted as the latest development for laser tattoo removal. Unfortunately, picosecond technology is all marketing hype to help the manufacturers sell more lasers at a higher cost. If fact, an Illinois clinic is suing one company for making false claims about the pico technology in their marketing.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Laser and Heath Academy compares picosecond laser technology and nanosecond laser technology and concludes that:
“The published literature and our preliminary results seem to indicate that current “picosecond” lasers are not expected to have a significantly better tattoo clearance effect in comparison with the “gold standard” Q-Switched nanosecond tattoo lasers.”
We hope this was helpful! If you have questions regarding laser tattoo removal technology or other questions about the laser tattoo removal process, the experts at Bare Tattoo & Hair Removal are here to help! Contact information is on our website.