Tattoo Removal

Guide to Evaluating Laser Tattoo Removal Machines

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Published: 06.23.2021
Updated: 02.26.2024

Evaluating The Laser Tattoo Removal Machine

As the tattoo industry continually grows, so does the demand for laser tattoo removal services. You’re probably thinking, “how can I get started in the tattoo removal industry?”. Well, it all starts with knowing the medical regulations in your state. If you are qualified to fire a laser, knowing what quality laser equipment to purchase is the next step. This buyer’s guide will cover everything you’ll need to know about the best laser tattoo removal machines for you in 2021. 

We’ll be breaking down what the technology behind laser tattoo removal is, the types of laser wavelengths used for tattoo removal, important factors you’ll need to consider when evaluating the best laser tattoo removal machine to buy,  and how much laser tattoo removal machines cost. We will also touch on the top 4 best laser tattoo removal machines on the market if laser tattoo removal can be done at home, and how you can choose the best tattoo removal laser for you. 

So if you’re interested in starting your own tattoo removal business, you’ll need to learn which lasers are the most effective for your services. Next, we’ll be covering the technology behind the laser tattoo removal machine.

Understanding Laser Tattoo Removal Technology

How does the laser tattoo removal device work? Well, the machine generates short pulses of high-intensity light to the target area. The light effectively shatters the tattoo ink while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. The shattered ink particles are then harmlessly removed through your body’s immune system in the following weeks. With time and continued sessions, a seemingly permanent tattoo can be removed. You can learn more about the technology behind the laser here

Another important factor when determining the best removal equipment is wavelengths, pulse duration, and spot size. All lasers have options to utilize multiple wavelengths in order to effectively target different ink colors within the skin. The amount of power available within a pulse at a certain wavelength determines how efficiently a tattoo can be removed while leaving the remaining tissue unharmed. Learn more about pulse duration and the types of laser wavelengths in the next section.

Types of Laser Wavelengths Used for Tattoo Removal

Typically, there are two wavelengths utilized to target tattoo ink. The two most commonly used wavelengths are 1064 nm and 532 nm. Each wavelength is best utilized for a variety of ink pigments across the spectrum. 

 It’s important to invest in a laser that operates with multiple wavelengths available to target all ink pigments from a variety of skin tones. Learn about the best wavelengths to use on different skin types here.

Tattoo removal wavelengths

The following lasers are currently available on the market in both picosecond and q-switched pulse durations: 

  • Q-switched 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. 
  • Q-switched alexandrite laser (755 nm) which is useful for removing difficult light blue and green pigments. 
  • Q-switched ruby laser (694 nm) which is useful for removing difficult light blue and green pigments. 

As you can see, wavelength is a light spectrum. 1064 nm lives in the infrared category of wavelengths which means that it is not visible to the human eye. 532 – 785 nm live within the visible light spectrum. 755 nm and 694 nm are better wavelengths for treating greens and blues and 532 nm is best for treating orange and red ink pigments. Unlike 1064 nm, the 532 nm requires a longer pulse duration due to the wavelength which creates more heat that is released into the skin. 

The difference between picosecond and nanosecond is that a picosecond is 1000X shorter than the nanosecond. The pulse duration of the picosecond laser is one trillionth of a second which releases the energy in a shorter period of time than a nanosecond laser. This reduces the amount of heat exposed to the surrounding tissue. 

We recommend opting for a laser tattoo removal machine that operates in picoseconds. Pico laser technology paired with a trained professional laser tech can remove a variety of “permanent” tattoos from anybody. In the next section, we will break down some important factors to consider when evaluating the best laser tattoo removal machine to purchase for your operation. 

Important Factors to Consider When Evaluating the Best Laser Tattoo Removal Machine to Buy

Now that you are aware of the wavelength options available, you’ll need to consider a few important factors when investing in a tattoo removal machine. We’ve broken down three key factors to consider: 

  • The laser technology and which lasers are best for tattoo removal services. Whether that be cosmetic, professional, or amateur tattoos. 
  • Spot size and why it’s important to have spot sizes available for your removal equipment. 
  • Ease of use, such as checking reviews like this guide for detailed guidance. 

There is tattoo removal equipment available for cosmetic, professional, and amateur tattoos. Tattoo ink, unlike removal machines, is not FDA regulated.

  • Cosmetic ink can be removed, but has the potential to oxidize depending on the color. Typically, it’s best to use a Nd: YAG laser (1064 nm) or the Alexandrite laser (755 nm-730 nm) when treating black, gray, or brown brows.  
  • Professional ink (even from a reputable artist) can have heavy metals, lipids, and other components that can affect the removal process. The best wavelength to use for professional ink is determined by the ink color. Typically it’s recommended to use the Nd: YAG laser (1064 nm, 532 nm) to treat dark pigments like black, blue, and warm toned colors. However, the alexandrite or ruby (755 nm & 694 nm) lasers would prove most effective for difficult light blues and green pigments to remove. 
  • Amature tattoo ink could be made out of anything. From Indian ink to soot, anything can be used to permanently distribute pigment within the dermis. Amature tattoos are typically done with a black pigment and recommended to be removed with the Nd: YAG laser (1064 nm) to target the black pigment. 

The best tattoo removal laser will have a variety of spot sizes. Large spot sizes such as 10 mm target the deepest ink, while smaller ones such as 3mm target the ink closest to the surface. We find that starting with a larger spot size to target the deepest ink and working our way to the surface with smaller spot sizes is the most effective method to remove tattoos safely. 

You will also have to consider the ease of use. It’s important to check the reviews written for the laser of your choosing. Analyze the size of the laser tattoo removal equipment, its accessibility, cost, and technology. Ready to determine the best laser available for you? Continue reading this guide for detailed guidance. We’ll be breaking down the cost of laser tattoo removal machines next.

How Much Do Laser Tattoo Removal Machines Cost?

The cost of lasers can vary greatly. A tattoo removal machine can cost anywhere from $100-$200,000. This is determined by the quality of the laser. As an organization, it’s important to invest in the best laser technology. On average, with a professional laser, clients can expect to spend around $1,000-$2,000 for complete removal services and $400-$600 to fade for a tattoo cover up. Learn more about tattoo removal costs here.

Of course, there are ways of reducing the cost of a professional tattoo removal machine. There are pros and cons to buying or leasing a new tattoo removal machine versus buying used. 

  • Pros to buying or leasing a new tattoo removal machine. With a new machine, there is less risk of the machine being broken or damaged. If you are not ready to commit to investing in a tattoo laser removal machine, there are laser manufacturers who will lease a laser to you. Although, if you are committed to starting your removal operation, investing in a new laser tattoo removal machine secures ownership of the laser as a long-term investment. 
  • Cons to buying or leasing a new tattoo removal machine. Overall, the cons of buying or leasing a new machine have to do with cost. It will be more expensive to purchase a quality laser tattoo removal machine. Buying the laser is an investment that can be quite expensive which is why leasing a laser is a good option. Although, you will not have ownership of the laser if you choose to lease it. 
  • Pros to buying a used laser tattoo removal machine. Typically, a used laser will be cheaper to purchase compared to the price of a new tattoo removal machine. With used lasers, you can hear from the seller’s experience how the machine operates, if there are any weird quirks, and tips/tricks to optimizing your machine. 
  • Cons to buying a used laser tattoo removal machine. You run the risk of purchasing broken or damaged equipment. Many laser manufacturers charge a hefty fee to bring the laser back in good standing to service the laser. Also, there’s no way to tell if proper maintenance of the laser has been done through the lifetime of the laser. There could be a ton of internal damage that will not be visible or detectable upon purchase. Although the initial cost of purchasing a used laser tattoo removal machine may be low, you might have to invest just as much to fix the machine as you would have to purchase a new one. 

Not only are lasers expensive, but there are barriers to enter such as financing options provided by laser manufacturers. Typically they require a significant investment upfront in addition to financing. With the cost of laser tattoo removal machines in mind and the pros/cons for buying new or used, we’ll now be breaking down picosecond vs nanosecond laser tattoo removal machines. 

What’s the Best Tattoo Removal Machine?

Whether new or used, these laser tattoo removal machines have proven to be the best picosecond and nanosecond lasers available. We’ll be breaking down the machine’s features, pros and cons, and the price range of the machine. 

1) Candela PicoWay Laser Tattoo Removal Machine

The Candela PicoWay Laser tattoo removal machine is top of our list. This machine uses a photoacoustic effect rather than a photothermal effect which reduces the risk of the skin heating and damaging the surrounding tissue. This laser comes with the wavelengths 1064 nm and 532 nm installed. 785 nm and 730 nm are separate handpieces that can be purchased to attach to the laser machine. We recommend this laser as your ultimate tattoo removal machine due to the variety of wavelengths available and photoacoustic technology. This is also the laser that we use in our studios. See our before & after gallery for results.

Pros: This laser is FDA certified, it uses photoacoustic effects to minimize surrounding skin damage, offers 4 picosecond wavelengths to target ink color across the spectrum, and minimizes the risk of hypopigmentation for darker skin types. This laser can also be used for acne scars, wrinkles, and benign lesions. 

 Cons: The Candela PicoWay Laser is one of the most expensive lasers on the market. Retails around $175,000 for a regular consumer. It will take multiple sessions to see complete removal results and depending on your state’s laser regulations, it can only be operated by a certified laser professional, RN or doctor.  

Best for: All tattoos. With 4 wavelengths and adjustable handpieces, the Candela PicoWay can target ink color across the spectrum and tattoo size. 

Price range: $$$$

2) Quanta Pico Discovery Laser Tattoo Removal Machine

The Quanta Pico Discovery tattoo removal machine uses the Nd: YAG (1064 nm, 532 nm) wavelengths and 694 nm available. 

Pros: The Quanta Pico Discovery laser tattoo removal machine uses the 1064 nm, 532 nm, and 694 nm wavelengths which target most ink colors across the spectrum and uses a photoacoustic effect to shatter ink while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. The Quanta Pico Discovery laser uses fractional treatments which take advantage of two different laser actions. The laser uses “LIOBs for collagen remodeling and ablation of damaged skin through picosecond ‘cold’ ablation” which is good for treating wrinkles and acne scars.

Cons: Just like the Candela PicoWay laser, the Quanta Pico Discovery is more expensive than most. It will also take multiple sessions to see complete removal results and depending on your state’s laser regulations, it can only be operated by a certified laser professional, RN, or doctor.  Unlike the Candela PicoWay laser, the Quanta Pico Discovery laser only uses 3 wavelengths to target ink color.

Best for: Most tattoo types and sizes. 

Price range: $$$$

3) PicoSure Tattoo Removal Laser by Cynosure

The PicoSure Laser tattoo removal machine by Cynosure is the world’s first picosecond aesthetic laser. It uses 3 wavelengths (1064 nm, 755 nm, 532 nm) and photothermal effects.

Pros: The PicoSure laser has 3 wavelengths that can target most ink colors across the spectrum. It operates in picoseconds which should reduce the risk of surrounding skin damage and has an adjustable spot size of up to 10mm.

Cons: The PicoSure laser uses photothermal effects vs the PicoWay which uses photoacoustic effects. The photothermal effect uses heat to break the ink particles apart which puts the client at risk of burns and hypopigmentation. It’s also not safe to treat skin types 5 and 6 with the 755 nm wavelength. Hypo or hyperpigmentation can occur as a side effect, along with a higher risk of causing scar tissue. This laser will take multiple sessions to see complete removal results and retails around $100,000 for a regular consumer.

Best for: Most tattoo types and sizes. 

Price range: $$$

4) Lutronic Spectra Nano Laser Tattoo Removal Machine

 The Lutronic Spectra nano laser tattoo removal machine uses four wavelengths (1064 nm, 532 nm, 585 nm, 650 nm) to target all ink colors across the spectrum. It operates in short 5-10 ns pulses and has different spot sizes available.

Pros: The Lutronic Spectra laser utilizes multiple wavelengths to target all types of ink pigments and utilizes auto sensing spot sizes. The laser operates in short 5-10 ns pulses and offers .8 mm – 8 mm spot sizes. 

Cons: The Lutronic Spectra does not offer the largest spot size available (10 mm) which is important because smaller spot sizes target the shallow ink and larger spot sizes target the deepest ink within the dermis. It also has a disadvantage working in nanoseconds compared to picosecond lasers. The pulses are longer than the picosecond lasers which requires more energy and distributes more heat into the surrounding tissue. 

Price range: $$$

5) Cynosure RevLite SI Laser Tattoo Removal Machine

The RevLite SI laser tattoo removal machine is a q-switched multi-wavelength laser that treats tattoos, acne scars, wrinkles, and pigmented lesions.

Pros: The RevLite SI offers two wavelengths (1064 nm, 532 nm) to treat most ink pigments across the spectrum. It also offers a SmartInfinite (SI) handpiece, photoacoustic technology, and precision beam technology. This laser also offers multiple handpiece options to adjust spot size.

Cons: The RevLite SI only operates in two wavelengths which are best for black and red pigments but do not target blues and greens as well. Again, the laser operates in nanoseconds which is a shorter pulse duration than the picosecond lasers causing more heat to distribute to the surrounding tissue and the largest spot size is not listed as available on the website.

Price range: $$$

6) Quanta Q Plus C Laser Tattoo Removal Machine

The Q Plus laser tattoo removal machine can have two different laser sources inserted, the pure q-switched or hybrid q-switched technology. It also has 6 different configurations available for adaptability.

Pros: The Q Plus laser offers the Optibeam II handpiece which offers different flat-top spot sizes and contact skin cooler to keep the target area cool when treating. It also offers twain handpieces to treat hair removal with the Twain IPL or tattoo removal with the Twain 2940. 

Cons: Each piece of the laser is an additional cost vs being automatically integrated. The Q Plus laser can offer Q-switched Er:YAG wavelength options at an additional cost. The laser also operates in nanoseconds vs picoseconds which distributes more heat to the surrounding tissue. The initial laser is an investment that will cost more with all of the additions. 

Price range: $$$$

7) NEATCELL Hand-Held Laser Tattoo Machine (At-Home Option)

The Neatcell Hand-Held Laser tattoo machine is a small portable laser that you can purchase from Amazon. It claims to be a picosecond pen with 9 kinds of light output frequencies and 4 kinds of light intensity. This product is mainly used to remove moles, “wash tattoos” and spots.

Pros: It can be purchased and operated by regular consumers, and it’s cheaper than professional removal services. It’s a hand-held laser pen that comes with a USB charger and protective eyewear. 

Cons: The Neatcell Hand-Held laser is not FDA certified and does not require a certified laser professional. It does not explain the 4 kinds of light intensity or 9 kinds of light output frequencies and will likely take longer to see complete removal results vs professional services. There is also the risk of hypopigmentation occurring due to the lack of knowledge and experience by the consumer. Given what you already know, the pen does not create a big enough spot size, have enough power, or pulse duration to effectively remove a tattoo.  

Best for: At-home DIYers and small tattoos.

Price range: $

Can Laser Tattoo Removal be Done at Home?

Short answer, yes it can be done at home. However, just like getting the tattoo, it’s always best to see a professional to assist in your removal. Here are some pros and cons to at-home tattoo removal:

Pros: At-home removal is cheaper than professional services. You have the ability to treat your tattoo from the comfort of your couch, and you have complete control over the outcome of your removal.

Cons: While at home DIY tattoo removal can be cheaper, there is no pulse power, spot size variance, pulse duration, or wavelength options available. At home tattoo removal essentially is the same power of a flashlight and will not be able to target different colors within a tattoo. Typically, due to lack of experience, it can hurt you more to remove your own tattoos. While it is more convenient than going to a professional removal specialist, learning how to remove tattoos properly takes time and experience. Much like getting a tattoo, it’s always best to see an expert. 

How to Choose a Laser Tattoo Removal Machine

Now that you’re ready to choose the laser tattoo removal machine that best fits your needs, remember to refer to the key takeaways from this buyer’s guide. The most important factors to consider when buying the right laser tattoo removal machine are the quality of the laser, the wavelengths and additional settings, and the overall cost of the machine.

Here at Removery, we’re dedicated to continued education in the realm of tattoo removal. If you have any questions regarding tattoo removal laser machines and why we choose to use the Candela PicoWay, please give our representatives a call at 866-465-0090. 

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Carmen VanderHeiden Brodie Carmen Brodie VP Clinical Operations

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