Unlike the tattoo industry where the focus is always on the finished product, the laser tattoo removal industry has a lot of attention spent on the best laser. With this comes a lot of technical industry jargon that commonly over-represents or confuses clients, drawing the eye further away from results and more into the tools that achieve them.
For this article our focus is on FDA approved technology. Not the kind of portable devices that look like meat thermometer and promise pain free, near instant results, or the semi-portable, medium sized briefcase looking machines that have a ray gun looking apparatus at the end of a flexible hose. These devices are unregulated, don’t have enough power to actually work and may leave you with long-lasting scars.
The focus here is to explain apples and oranges and why they shouldn’t be compared against each other.
There Is No Best Laser For Tattoo Removal
There are better lasers for particular colors, skin types and protocols that our staff use to ensure maximum results from every office visit.
When choosing a tattoo artist one looks through their portfolio of work, usually will have a discussion about the art and influences of the tattoo and then an appointment is booked. Never in that discussion is questions about what the best tattoo machine is. Likewise, buying a pair of Air Jordans doesn’t mean that the wearer suddenly has the ability to do dramatic dunks the way MJ used to. When a car is taken to a mechanic to be fixed due to a problem, the driver doesn’t ask what brand of tools are in the toolbox, just like buying those tools won’t automatically enable the tool’s owner to work on the car, that is without the knowledge and protocols mechanics hone after years of honing their skills.
When choosing a laser tattoo removal business, focusing on the laser used and not on the results is a somewhat backwards way of researching. At any given time there are reviews commonly found from Google searches about which laser is the best, but the best laser in an inexperienced clinic won’t achieve great results.
Proper Protocols Are As Important As Lasers
Tattoo removal is achieved by using lasers to fracture large pigment particles into smaller pieces so the immune system can more easily remove them. What happens in the office is just the fracturing portion of removal, the actual removal portion happens over a period of time.
Above is a mortar and pestle, think of it as an analogy for a laser, serving the purpose of fracturing the large peppercorn (the ink particles that make up a tattoo) on the left into finely ground pepper on the right. The ground pepper (fractured pieces of pigment) is much smaller, and more easily digested (through the body’s lymphatic system).
Each tattoo on every client in our office will be treated slightly different, there is no set it and forget it way to treat tattoos, and each client will have a specific time interval between treatments to achieve maximum results.
The protocols used at GO! Tattoo Removal have been refined since 2012 when we opened and continue to be evaluated to achieve the best possible results for clients. With thousands of treatments done annually by our experienced staff rest assured knowing we have your best interests in mind.
Cynosure Medlite C6 & PicoSure
We chose to use two laser systems in our office, both from Cynosure. The Medlite C6 having two wavelengths and a long history of being a leader in the industry and extremely reliable and the PicoSure. The PicoSure is a beast with the blue, green and purple inks which have been notoriously hard to remove prior to this laser coming to market.
The choice among laser systems is not an easy one, there are many factors that contribute to investing in these extremely expensive machines. Both our machines have a proven track record of being extremely effective with tattoo removal, our service technicians that do routine maintenance, are located nearby and ensure everything is running in tip top shape.
Laser tattoo removal cost is a factor in choosing where to go, we have always charged a flat rate for treatment, regardless which laser is used. Because there is no best laser, our staff will use the best laser for your tattoo. Never worry that we’re going to try and up-sell you to a newer or better laser, because many of our clients require both to effectively treat their tattoos.
There are several other amazing lasers on the market that we continuously evaluate including the Quanta Discovery Pico, Candela Picoway, Cutera Enlighten, Lutronic Spectra, and Lumenis PiQ04. With an experienced tech that has proven protocols, tattoo removal with any of these laser systems is possible, some of our industry friends use these systems with great results.
Pico-Second vs. Nano-Second Lasers
When Cynosure introduced the PicoSure in 2012 it was the first major breakthrough in laser tattoo removal technology since the 1990’s and their marketing campaign to clinic owners and directly to consumers was extremely aggressive. Until that point, the Q-Switched Nd:YAG (commonly referred to as QS for short) laser had been the gold standard for tattoo removal. A pico-second laser will deliver energy at one trillionth of a second, compared to the slower QS at one billionth of a second. The advantage of a pico-second laser is best described using one of Cynosure’s marketing messages:
If tattoo pigment is represented by a mountain, a nano-second laser will fracture the mountain into rocks, the body’s immune system then removes it. In the same analogy, a pico-second laser will fracture the mountain into sand and these smaller particles can be removed by the body.
This is factually true, but there are caveats*.
From our discussions with industry insiders, trusted colleagues and service professionals, we’ve yet to see night and day difference between similarly equipped nano and pico-second lasers at the same wavelength. That is to say, an average black and grey tattoo treated with a QS laser will roughly take 10-12 treatments to remove. The same tattoo treated with a pico-second laser might require 1-2 treatments less. Adding new equipment to our office is always a calculated decision, to get a new system in that’s maybe 5% better then what we’ve proven to work, and possibly needing to raise our pricing to offset the purchase doesn’t make sense for us as a business, or for our clients.
In this before and after comparison photo the PicoSure was used and shows amazing progress on the bright, vibrant colors. Sharing this image is extremely important because it showcases the little, if any progress on the black line-work of the tattoo, the PicoSure is mediocre at best with black inks and unable to treat red, brown or orange pigments. Future treatments will include the use of the Medlite C6 to achieve fading in the black outlines. Having both lasers in our office allows flexibility and the ability to alternate between the two at different appointments, maximizing results and helping achieve the desired outcome, enough fading for a cover-up or removal. The Medlite C6, nor any comparable nano or pico-second laser that we’re aware of will achieve this level of fading from a single treatment on blue, green or purple pigment.
*The caveats mentioned earlier are for the wavelengths used, there simply isn’t a nano-second laser on the market that we’ve seen as effective on blue, green and purple pigments as the PicoSure. Because of the specific wavelength it operates at, we continue to use and believe in the PicoSure for specific tattoo pigments due to the high success rate we’ve been achieving. The results are not because of the pico-second technology.
Common & Misleading Marketing Catchphrases
Laser tattoo removal machine manufactures, industry professionals, small business owners and laser operators across the board have and continue to use misleading catchphrases. They often over-sell the capabilities of the technology or place too much emphasis on the machine, leaving none of it in the hands of the laser operator. Some of the more common marketing terms include:
- Advanced technology
- Latest technology
- Cutting edge technology
- Capable of treating all skin types
- Capable of treating all colors
- Fewer treatments then ever before
- Pain free treatments
- Don’t settle for older technology
- Highest performing
- Best-made laser system
- Highest energy
- State of the art
Some of these catchphrases are stretching the truth, some of them are superfluous and some are outright lies and misleading. In an earlier article about how long it will take to remove a tattoo we discussed skin type assessment, pigment saturation and how certain colors, specifically yellow simply can’t be removed. Not everyone will be a candidate for full removal and there isn’t a laser on the market that is pain free.
Photos Show All
We are extremely proud of the results we’ve able to achieve and do our best to set realistic expectations. In addition to tattoos that have been removed, we also have galleries for tattoo removal in progress and tattoo removal to help make a cover-up easier to accomplish. Curious what tattoos look like immediately after treatment? Have a look at our frosting gallery.
Laser tattoo removal costs just $200 per treatment at GO! Tattoo removal. We don't charge per square inch, per local, location on the body and can even treat two or three smaller tattoos at one office visit, for no added cost.
Additionally, discounts for pre-paying multiple laser tattoo removal treatments are offered. No need to send in a photo of the tattoo you want faded or removed, either.
Our pricing has always been published online, too. Don't live with tattoos you don't love. GO! Tattoo Removal can fade what you have so a tattoo artist can do a proper cover up without any compromise. We can also offer full tattoo removal*, too.
We use proven treatment protocols to achieve maximum fading at each treatment and have, since 2012.