It’s 2021 and there are plenty of tattoo removal equipment options available on the market, but what’s the right one for your removal business? Tattoo removal equipment can vary greatly based on the laser machine’s features and capabilities.
While some machines have the ability to treat a wide range of tattoos, some laser systems are ideal for very specific tattoo ink colors. The topics covered in this guide will help you navigate options to make the right choice when making an investment into laser removal equipment for your tattoo removal business.
In this article, we break down the following:
- How to use different wavelengths to laser remove colored tattoos
- What settings are available on tattoo removal machines
- What to know about tattoo removal machines and FDA clearance
- Which tattoo removal equipment machines provide training and support
- How to maintain and service your laser tattoo removal machine
- How much tattoo removal equipment costs
Factors to Consider When Determining the Best Lasers for Tattoo Removal
Some important factors to consider when determining the best tattoo removal laser are the ink colors it can remove, pulse duration, and the risk of thermal energy. We broke down what each of these factors are, and how they contribute to the laser technology.
The ink color a laser can remove is a very important factor to consider. The best tattoo removal laser will have multiple wavelengths available to target different ink pigments. Some tattoos will require multiple laser wavelengths due to having different colors within the design.
Pulse duration is the interval of time between the first transition. In other words, the pulse duration is the measurement of time between the light entering and exiting the dermis. The best tattoo removal lasers will have a short pulse duration which minimizes the risk of thermal injury to the surrounding tissue.
Risk of Thermal Injury
It’s also important to consider the risk of thermal injury. The longer the light sits in your skin, the more likely it will heat up the surrounding tissue which can cause scarring and damage. That’s why it’s important to consider a laser that works in picoseconds which is one-trillionth of a second and is only in the dermis for a short period of time. Less time in the dermis equals less risk of thermal injury.
Evaluating Tattoo Removal Laser Technologies
There are many laser tattoo removal options on the market, but it’s important to take a look at the technology. Lasers will often have different wavelength settings available, peak power, and spot size. It’s important to understand the type of laser that is best for your practice.
Picosecond Laser Technology
Picosecond laser technology is revolutionary to the laser removal industry due to its ability to have the shortest pulse duration of one trillionth of a second. This laser technology can remove tattoo ink across a spectrum of color. Lasers currently on the market that offer picosecond technology are the PicoWay laser and PicoSure. Removery uses the Candela PicoWay laser technology to treat their clients.
Q-switch technology works by concentrating a high amount of energy into pulses and maximizing peak power. We’ll explain more about pulses and peak power in this article. But how does the laser actually remove a tattoo? Laser tattoo removal works by targeting the ink particles and shattering them into tiny pieces for your body’s white blood cells to carry away through the immune system. It’s important to note that there are different forms of Q-switched technologies, and not all lasers effectively remove tattoos.
Passively Q-Switched vs. Actively Q-Switched
There are two types of Q-switched lasers on the market, passively Q-switched and actively Q-switched. Passively Q-switched lasers are portable and affordable lasers that do produce pulses of energy that can remove tattoos, but lack the power of actively Q-switched lasers. Actively Q-switched lasers are larger and more expensive lasers that have high performing power to remove tattoos effectively.
- Passively Q-switched laser pros: Cheaper than an actively Q-switched laser.
- Passively Q-switched laser cons: Not enough power to actually remove tattoos effectively. Run the risk of scarification or hypo/hyperpigmentation. Not FDA certified to use clinically.
- Actively Q-switched laser pros: FDA certified device with the proper pulse power to effectively remove tattoos. Opportunity to remove a multitude of ink colors with different wavelengths and the safest device to reduce the risk of scarification or hypo/hyperpigmentation.
- Actively Q-switched laser cons: More expensive than passively Q-switched lasers. Must be certified to operate the laser equipment.
Understanding What Wavelengths Can Remove Which Ink Colors
Understanding the capabilities of different wavelengths will help you choose the best tattoo removal equipment for your facility. Three of the most common wavelengths available are Nd: YAG (1064 nm, 532 nm), Alexandrite (755 nm), and Ruby (694 nm).
Different wavelengths are necessary to target different colors of tattoo ink because color absorbs different wavelengths of energy. It’s important to have adjustable settings to target the correct color of ink in the skin. Below are examples of tattoo colors that the three wavelengths are best at targeting:
- Nd: YAG laser (1064 nm, 532 nm). The 1064 nm wavelength is FDA approved to remove black and tribal blues. The 532 nm wavelength is useful for removing red and reducing orange, purple, and other warm-toned colors.
- Alexandrite laser (755 nm) is useful for removing difficult light blue and green pigments.
- Ruby laser (694 nm) is also approved to treat light blue and green pigments.
Tattoo Removal Equipment Training and Support
It’s important that you receive the proper training and support in order to follow state regulations and obtain the most effective results. With proper training, a technician can feel confident in their ability to effectively treat their clients. The laser supplier you choose should be able to train and guide you in utilizing the machine to its full potential. Laser training can be found on state or healthcare websites or you can contact a healthcare attorney to help you receive proper training protocols.
What to Know About Tattoo Removal Machines and FDA Clearance
Laser tattoo removal machines are classified as medical equipment which is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA stamp of approval ensures that the removal is safe and effective. It’s important to use an FDA-approved laser removal machine because it’s illegal in the United States to perform tattoo removal with devices that have not been approved by the FDA. Penalties for operating a non-FDA-approved laser machine can vary from fines to imprisonment and patients treated with a non-FDA certified laser have the grounds to take legal action as well.
It’s important to only operate a business with an FDA-certified laser machine. Although cheaper alternatives on Amazon may look appealing, they are not FDA approved and could result in serious injury. To find quality laser removal machines, we recommend looking at the source, the tattoo removal machine manufacturers. Make sure you are buying from a reputable laser manufacturer.
Maintaining and Servicing Your Laser Tattoo Removal Machine
Regular maintenance is required for all lasers. From cleaning, calibrating, and re-aligning, these systems need regular maintenance. It’s important to work with a laser removal supplier who can provide service for many years.
Final Advice for Evaluating the Top Tattoo Removal Equipment
When buying a laser, it’s important to understand all of the information provided in this article before committing. From the specs to FDA clearance, it’s all-important information to consider for your removal services. Removery’s clinical advisory board is dedicated to testing and approving the laser technology in our studios to ensure that we are using the safest and most effective technology. Learn more about tattoo removal from Removery’s clinical advisory board member, Dr. Barrows.
Curious about the cost of removal? Check out our tattoo removal cost page to learn more. Want to learn more about how tattoo removal works? Read our article that breaks down the removal process.