Laser Treatment Wavelengths Affect Skin Type and Ink Colour Differently
To understand how lasers remove tattoo ink from all skin types, it’s vital to be familiar with wavelengths. Different colours of ink and skin reflect varying wavelengths of light differently which if not used properly, could lead to side effects. For instance, a tattoo with primarily red colours will absorb all visible light except red light. To shatter the ink of a red tattoo, you cannot use a red light as it would not absorb the energy.
At Removery, we understand that different colours of ink and skin absorb wavelengths in a variety of ways, which is why we utilise more than one type of laser. While a 1064 nm wavelength is usually ideal for shattering black or very dark ink, a 532 nm wavelength is better for removing red or warm tones such as yellow or brown. Green, blue, and purple inks are typically the most difficult to remove. We have found that the 730 nm wavelength, such as that used by the PicoWay® laser, removes these colours with the fewest number of treatments, minimal damage, and reduced scar tissue to surrounding tissues.
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The Challenges of Laser Removal on Dark Skin
The challenge of dark skin tattoo removal is a result of the amount of melanin. The darker the skin, the more melanin is present. Melanin absorbs energy – especially heat – and the more melanin in the skin, the higher amounts of heat will be absorbed from the laser. Because of this, complications from laser removal on darker skin tones are more likely than with lighter skin. If the technician is not experienced enough, he or she may use the laser for too long or on too high of a setting and cause excessive pain and burning of the skin. This can lead to scarring as well as loss of colour in the skin, known as hypopigmentation.
What Tattoo Removal Laser Works Best on Dark Skin?
Not only do certain colours of ink appear differently on dark skin, but darker skin also absorbs light and heat more rapidly. While those with light skin will absorb the laser energy directly into the tattoo, those with darker skin will often diffuse the energy into the skin surrounding the tattoo as well as into the ink itself.
For this reason, a laser that uses a broad spectrum of light, traditionally a Q-switched laser and now some of the 1064 Pico lasers, are often the best choice. This type of laser can remove ink effectively without removing melanin or burning the skin.
In addition to using the right laser, our specialists also wait longer between treatments for those with dark skin. While those with lighter skin can typically have treatments every six weeks, those with darker skin should wait eight to ten weeks between treatments to avoid hyperpigmentation, skin fatigue or hypopigmentation.