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Choosing the Best Type of Laser Tattoo Removal

PicoSure vs. Q-Switched

Rethinking the ink? If you’re not as in love with your tattoo as you once were, laser tattoo removal is generally safe and effective way to get the job done. Between recent advances in laser removal and the frequency in which celebrities seem to get new tattoos, a permanent tattoo feels less like a commitment than ever before. But laser tattoo removal is not like using a “magic eraser” – there’s more to it than you think with many considerations. Though lasers are helpful, efficient and effective when it comes to tattoo removal, not all laser tattoo removal is created equal. Before you willingly get that boyfriend’s name etched onto your wrist or take the plunge to have something old removed, it’s important to understand more about laser tattoo removal, as it has come a long way in just a few short years.

The two most common types of lasers used for tattoo removal include the PicoSure and the Q-switched Nd:YAG, and although there are some similarities, there are many differences.

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Q-switched Nd:YAG Lasers 

Q-switched lasers have traditionally been used for corrective eye surgery, dentistry and removal of skin cancer. This treatment option uses intensive laser energy to heat up and break apart the tattoo ink into smaller particles that the body can absorb. They have been effective in removing tattoos of certain colors and on certain types of skin for many years, and were considered the gold standard for tattoo removal until PicoSure’s picosecond technology was launched several years ago. Laser tattoo removal with the Q-switched laser can be a tedious process, requiring enormous patience on the part of the patient.

PicoSure Tattoo Removal 

Unlike the Q-switched lasers, which use laser energy to burn ink particles into smaller pieces, PicoSure doesn’t use any heat – rather, it uses ultra-short “pico-second” pulses that bombard the ink particles at a very high pressure, shattering them into tiny dust particles which are then more quickly and easily absorbed and eventually eliminated by the body. Due to a variety of factors, there are several key reasons that PicoSure provides superior tattoo removal clearance as compared to Q-switched lasers.

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To learn more, schedule your consultation with Dr. Schwartz by filling out the form on this page or by calling his practice at 913-451-8346. Premier Vein & Body by Schwartz serves patients throughout the Kansas City metro.

Ink and Skin of All Colors

PicoSure® Tattoo Removal is the first FDA-cleared medical laser that can treat all skin types and all tattoo colors, including the difficult reds, blues and greensQ-switched laser treatment may be less effective on darker skin than lighter skin, and darker skin will have a higher risk of hypopigmentation (lightening of the treated skin). Removal using traditional laser energy is more difficult in patients who have a darker skin tone based on laser physics and the way the laser works. As the laser targets pigment that’s in the ink, it can also be targeting the melanin in your skin – the darker your skin, the more complicated it will be to utilize a laser to remove the tattoo. Because PicoSure utilizes thermal energy instead of laser energy, there is much less risk for hypopigmentation on patients with darker skin.

Because PicoSure is a multi-wavelength laser, it is effective in removing all ink colors. The 532 nm hand piece effectively removes yellow, orange and red ink colors; 755 nm hand piece targets black, green and blue ink; and the 1064 nm hand piece removes dark tattoo ink. The 1064 nm wavelength has a long history of being used for tattoo removal (along with skin revitalization and pigmentation), but without the additional wavelengths, it is not an effective treatment for multi-colored tattoos. The Q-switched laser only offers the 1064 and 532 nm wavelengths, thus providing inferior results on tattoos with green or blue ink.

Faster and Fewer Treatments

Unlike the Q-switched laser, which required many sessions, the PicoSure’s PressureWave technology shatters ink into particles that are 1,000 times smaller than the majority of tattoo removal lasers. The ink is then encapsulated and eliminated, resulting in clearer skin in fewer treatments, without damaging the surrounding skin. However, there is a huge variation depending on the size, color, body location and depth/intensity/type of ink used.  With this unique technology, an average size tattoo may be 90% removed in as little as 4 treatments, while a Q-switched laser can easily take twice as many treatments, without full clearance. For optimal results, each treatment should be spaced 6-8 weeks apart.

Less Discomfort and Fewer Side Affects

Because PicoSure operates with very fast pulses (one pulse per picosecond or one-trillionth of a second), creating pure energy generation in the form of pressure or pulsed shock wave effect on the tattoo pigments, very little to no heat is generated, resulting in less discomfort. The absence of heat injury and damage to the healthy skin means less risk of hypopigmentation that is seen with the more common lasers. Pain is usually one of the most common pre-treatment concerns among tattoo removal patients, but laser tattoo removal does not have to involve significant pain. Typically, PicoSure tattoo removal treatments are the least painful available, and Premier Vein & Body by Schwartz offers a standard protocol for pain management to ensure the most comfortable tattoo removal procedure in the Kansas City area. We also offer a tumescent licodaine injection for an additional fee.

Since every tattoo is different, Premier Vein and Body by Schwartz offers tattoo removal consultations. Once our laser aesthetician examines the size and colors of your tattoo, she can give you a reasonable idea of how many treatments may be required for total clearance. Patients should typically expect to see 20-25% tattoo removal after each laser treatment, although tattoo size, colors and type/density of ink are contributing factors. For optimal results, each treatment should be spaced 6-8 weeks apart.


*Individual Results May Vary


Read from real patients about their experiences with Dr. Schwartz and his team at Premier Vein & Body by Schwartz.

Take the Next Step

To learn more about PicoSure Laser Tatoo Removal, schedule your complimentary consultation by filling out the form on this page or by calling (913) 451-8346Premier Vein & Body by Schwartz proudly serves the entire Kansas City metro area.

* This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician.

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