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As tattoos have increased in popularity across a widening demographic over recent years, so too has the desire to have them removed or replaced. 35% of the UK population aged 25 to 39 have at least one tattoo. Birmingham is the most tattooed city – 48% of that demographic have at least six tattoos. 35% of those who have tattoo regret them and would have them removed; the most common reason being to remove someone’s name. These statistics indicate a large and growing market for the removal of unwanted tattoos. Laser tattoo removal is regarded as the most effective means of doing so. Q-switched lasers are the most common devices used and more recently, picosecond lasers have been introduced.

The concept of laser tattoo removal is based on the theory of selective photothermolysis where a particular laser is selectively absorbed in a chromosphere such as oxyhemoglobin, melanin, water or pigment to heat and destroy the target without damaging the surrounding tissue. As the energy from the laser is absorbed it produces heat, which in the case of laser hair removal, will cause destruction of the hair follicle.

With Q-switched lasers, each pulse is delivered in nanoseconds, causing pressure force to mechanically break down the pigment into small fragments that can be absorbed and removed by the lymphatic system in a process of phagocytosis. This is known as photoacoustic effect.

A millisecond is the speed used for laser hair removal (a 1000th of a second). A nanosecond, however, is a billionth of a second and therefore much more efficient at producing this photoacoustic effect to break down the pigment in the tattoo.

In choosing the best technology for your clinic it is important to understand different lasers and their pros and cons.

There are two basic types of Q-switched lasers, namely passive and active Q-switched lasers. Passive Q-switched lasers are typically small, with the laser in the handpiece. They have lower power, a smaller and single spot size and may be suitable for fading tattoos. The larger active Q-switched lasers have an articulated arm, high peak power (high power and a short pulse duration), adjustable spot size and multiple wavelengths. They are effective in removing almost all pigment colours.

In recent years, picosecond lasers have been introduced. A pico second is 1000 times faster than a nanosecond, and these lasers are believed to be more effective and less painful that Q-switched lasers. They do, however, command a large premium in price, so the cost-benefit analysis needs to be considered.

The Q-10 Laser, distributed in the UK by Cosmeditech, is an active Q-Switched laser offering up to four wavelengths, high peak power and a variable spot size from 1-10mm.

In addition to removing 90% of all tattoo colours, the laser can remove benign pigmented lesions, vascular lesions, nail fungus, seborrheic keratosis and melasma making it a versatile addition to your practice.

For more information visit, email or call 0800 038 55 80

This article appears in the November/December 2021 Issue of Aesthetic Medicine

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This article appears in the November/December 2021 Issue of Aesthetic Medicine