In the last 2 years the standard for tattoo removal has conclusively moved away from the Q-Switched laser systems to Picosecond systems. The consumer now also has a few other choices other than the PicoWay (the system we use) or the PicoSure.
The latest release is the Quanta Discovery Pico. This article is to help you understand the difference between laser systems and factors to consider when comparing Sydney tattoo removal pricing between clinics.
Picosecond Laser vs Picosecond/Nanosecond Laser
PicoWay: Picosecond platform
Discovery Pico: Hybrid picosecond/nanosecond platform
PicoWay is a second-generation picosecond device with a dedicated picosecond platform. Discovery Pico is a second-generation picosecond device with a peculiar hybrid picosecond/ nanosecond platform. The claim is sometimes you need nanosecond and then sometimes you need picosecond. Nanosecond produces heat therefore creates sub-dermal scarring as it treats tattoos. The scar tissue encapsulates the tattoo ink and limits the body’s lymphatic system to remove the ink. There is no scientific reason a laser system would use a superseded technology to assist in the latest technology. We have seen many tattoos that have resisted fading due to the use of a nanosecond laser. We used other modalities such as a fractionated RF device to break up the scarred tissue to release the ink.
Number of picosecond wavelengths
PicoWay: 3 wavelengths - 532nm, 785nm, 1064nm
Discovery Pico: 2 wavelengths - 532nm, 1064nm, (694nm is nanosecond)
Wavelengths of lasers refer to how deep a laser can reach in the skin and also different colours are attracted to certain wavelengths. The PicoWay has 3 picosecond wavelengths 523nm, 785nm and 1064nm. This scale is shallowest to the deepest respectively. 785nm is proven to be highly successful in treating the difficult blues and greens. We have seen these colours cleared in 1-2 treatments in 80% of cases.
The Discovery Pico only has 2 picosecond wavelengths at 532nm and 1064nm. It depends on the 694nm from a ruby laser that is in the nanosecond (Q-Switched) wavelength. The 694nm ruby laser has been abandoned by most manufacturers due to its aggressive nature causing post-inflammation pigmentation (PIH), pain and downtime.
PicoWay: 375ps @ 532nm, 300ps @ 785nm, 450ps @1064nm
Discovery Pico: 370ps @ 532nm, 450 ps @ 1064nm, 6ns @ 694nm
Pule duration refers to the speed that the laser is fired. The lower the number i.e. 300ps the faster the laser. This is the most important aspect to tattoo removal. The faster the laser the more shattering shockwave effect the laser has.
PicoWay is the only true 3 picosecond wavelength rated at 370ps for the 532nm, 300ps for the 785nm and 450ps for the 1064nm. In fact, the PicoWay is the fastest in the world at 300ps.
Discovery Pico markets itself as 3 wavelengths but one of them is the ruby laser (694nm) with 6ns (nanosecond). The 532nm and 1064 are rated effectively the same.
PicoWay: 0.9gw @ 1064nm, 0.53gw @ 532nm
Discovery Pico: 1.8gw @ 1064nm, 0.9gw @ 532nm
The formula is Peak power = Energy (J)/ Pulse duration (S). You would never operate at maximum energy (fluence) regardless what skin type or tattoo you are treating because it would cause irreparable trauma in the skin tissue. Therefore, peak power is irrelevant when used for tattoo removal on human tissue it is just marketing because if the clinician used too much energy they would be over treating, risking bleeding and blisters. Peak power marketing may be more relevant when talking about industrial applications. The aim is to use the least amount of energy to create the fastest pulse duration. This ensures the least trauma to the tissue while treating. Ultimately, the only two specifications that matter are wavelengths and pulse duration.
PicoWay: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 mm spot sizes
Discovery Pico: 2, 3, 4, 5 (square) & 2, 4, 6, 8 (round)
The larger the spot size, the deeper the laser reaches. The smaller the spot size the more concentrated the laser becomes. The correct protocol is to start on the largest spot size and increase the fluence and assess skin response. Based on the how the tattoo and skin handles the parameters the clinician will continue to reduce the spot size to achieve maximum effective threshold. This is the perfect balance of energy used to achieve results without damaging the tissue.
PicoWay: Holographic fractional technology
Discovery Pico: Fractional technology
Both systems have the fractional laser function. This is primarily used for facial rejuvenation by cell destruction in the dermal layer with little to zero epidermal disruption. This process stimulates new collagen and elastin production.
Since the 2015 release, multiple clinical white papers have reported on the PicoWay’s success in clearing tattoos. Since the 2017 release of the 785nm the clearance rate of blue and green tattoos has increased significantly, in fact some have cleared after 1-2 treatments. Due to the time in the market the results have been well documented by many clinical studies.
Discovery Pico has just been recently released therefore the systems have not been in the market place long enough to establish in clinic results with photographic evidence.
Another important point is when a clinic says the words “guaranteed result” there should be a guarantee linked with the results. Otherwise, it is a hollow promise. Ask the clinic what they will do if the result is less than expectation.
Cost per treatment
This is one of the most misunderstood factors in tattoo removal. Many clinics are discounting to make their quote attractive. However, if the treatments take more time due to an inferior system or inexperienced operator the number of actual treatments could mean you need double the amount of treatments or more. This mistake could end up costing you more. This is when a maximum number of treatment guarantee will cap the total cost.
This is a very simple yet overlooked question a client forgets to ask the operator. “What are your qualifications?” In NSW there is no regulation preventing anyone operating a Class 4 laser. Qualified dermal clinicians, registered nurses and doctors are trained in understanding skin science and responses. If they are not one of these then the person handling the medical device doesn’t understand the clinical endpoints and contradictions of such devices.
Other articles to help you choose the right tattoo removal clinic:
- 5 Leading Tattoo Removal Clinics To Consider In Sydney
- Warning Signs You Chose The Wrong Tattoo Removal Clinic
- How To Choose The Right Laser Tattoo Removal Clinic
- Laser Tattoo Removal: Why Dodgy Operators Are So Dangerous
At Detail Tattoo Removal we offer the PicoWay from Syneron Candela and we offer a 10 treatment maximum guarantee. Along with a price match policy to give you peace of mind that you are getting the best value service.
We strongly advise you to research and visit a few clinics before making your final decision on the clinic you choose to perform your treatment. Price should only form a small part of why you choose the clinic. Professionalism, honesty and expert advice is as important, if not more important. If you choose the cheapest price it often becomes an expensive mistake in the long term.
If you would like to talk to the team at Detail Tattoo Removal you can call us on 02 9231 5999. Check out our tattoo removal before and after photos for Sydney.