Which type of laser is best for tattoo removal?

Doctor's Answers (3)

Hi there! 

Thank you for your question regarding treatment options for tattoo removal. I recommend using a pico-second laser to target tattoo ink/pigments. Picosecond lasers are more effective and safer than nanosecond (Q-switched) lasers (1). 

However, do note that the type of laser used is only one of the factors affecting your personal clinical response to tattoo removal treatments. There are other factors to consider (2), such as:

- your skin type

- the location of your tattoo on your body

- the amount of ink in your tattoo (usually less for amateur tattoos and more for profesionally-done ones)

- whether the ink was layered in your tattoo

- presence of any skin scarring or changes over your tattoo

- the number of colours and colours present in your tattoo

As you can see, the type of laser used is only one of many factors involved to determine your response to laser tattoo removal. In addition, do speak to your doctor to find out more regarding appropriate after-care, potential risks, adverse effects and an estimate on the number of sessions required for you. 

Best regards and happy new year!

Cheers,

Dr. Joanna Chan

References:

1. Choi MS, Seo HS, Kim JG, et al. Effects of picosecond laser on the multi-colored tattoo removal using Hartley guinea pig: A preliminary study. PLoS One. 2018;13(9):e0203370. Published 2018 Sep 6. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0203370

2. Kirby W, Desai A, Desai T, Kartono F, Geeta P. The Kirby-Desai Scale: A Proposed Scale to Assess Tattoo-removal Treatments. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2009;2(3):32-7.

That is an excellent question. There are 3 processes that happen during a tattoo removal process.

1. Photo-thermal effect
As soon as the pigment absorbs the laser energy, some of it is burnt up.

2. Photo- acoustic effect
Light waves behave like sound waves. Some of the pigment shatters upon contact with the light waves.

3. Lymphatics
The fragments of pigment are cleared by the body.

The location, colour, age of the tattoo and amount of ink involved determine the difficulty or ease of removal of the tattoo.

The best method remains the laser. The most widely used is the Q-Switched Nd-YAg lasers for tattoo removal. The later lasers are the Picoway-second lasers which I use. I use the PicoWay in my clinic because the shorter pulse duration of the laser means more pigment can be treated whilst still keeping the surrounding skin safe. This means a faster recovery time and generally less pain involved. I use the PicoWay also because it has a wavelength that can treat the traditionally difficult green and blue inks.

Make your decision based on both the technology used as well as the operator experience.

Warm Regards,

Dr Kevin Chua

Dr Justin Boey

"Doctor with interest in Aesthetics and Lasers"

Laser tattoo removal in Singapore is a diverse market. 

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.

Based on research studies, a Pico Laser or 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.

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 PicoPlus Pico Laser for tattoo removal but I’m sure there are other reliable brands as well.

Hope this helps!

Warmest regards,

Dr Justin Boey

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