Which is better Q-switched or Q-switched ND YAG laser for best safest results for a black orange red tattoo for rework? (photo)

Im wanting to get a tattoo lighten so it can be covered up by another tattoo. The tattoo consists mainly black - orange and small amounts of red ink. I currently have the option of a Q-switched laser or a Q-switched ND YAG laser, while research points to the ND YAG for colours like orange and red, there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of comparison evidence as to which is the better choice or what will works best? The Q-switched laser treatments are far more affordable then the ND YAG laser.

Doctor Answers 3

Black, orange and red tattoo laser removal

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The Yag laser can be q-switched or long pulsed.   Only a q-switched laser would be used for tattoo removal, any experienced physician can help you with this question.  Your tattoo has dense pigment.  The black and red can be taken care of by the more routine q-switched nd-yag laser, sometimes the orange may be more stubborn.  In your case I think it is fortuitous that you are going for lightening, not removal, which would require many more treatments and many years.   Also, the laser can create a scar so in tattoos such as yours, the physician will start off with lower settings to ensure blistering and possible scarring do not occur.  Now we tend to space treatments two months apart, no sooner. The laser process takes time.   If you eventually cover it with another tattoo and ever with to treat it again with the laser, the physician will have to reduce the settings significantly as it has, due to the layering, much more pigment and is prone to blistering if too much energy is used.

The pico-sure laser is a step forward it seems in tattoo removal, flashing faster than the normal q switched lasers, and theoretically with less tissue injury and clearing tattoos faster (twice as fast is their claim).  These lasers are expensive and thus treatments cost more.    Orange is a traditionally stubborn color to remove and the picosure claims better results.  The red will have to be treated with the traditional nd-yag q switched or similar laser.  Any physician with a picosure should have another laser to treat your red section.

I advise my patients with such tattoos that it will take time to achieve lighteining.  To avoid scarring a conservative start to laser settings is important.

Black and orange ink tattoos - Buffalo Niagara Laser Tattoo Specialist

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Black inks are targeted by almost most laser tattoo systems as black ink absorbs all wavelengths.

You can choose a picosecond laser like Picosure for black ink tattoos or others like RevLite or the Alex TriVantage.

Red inks are difficult to treat and require a 532 nm laser (Q switched) or a picosecond laser like PicoWay - note that PicoWay is different than Picosure.

Picosure targets blue and green inks and used high speed, high intensity laser that uses high pressure to disintegrate tattoo ink into very small particles that are cleared by the skin sooner.

Pastels colors are more stubborn to treat with tattoo lasers and more than one laser system may be needed.

Alex TriVantage has 3 wavelengths - 755 nm, 532 nm and 1064 nm, each with different advantages and so on.

The 1064 nm laser is great for black ink tattoos as it spares the melanocytes in dark skin individuals and high Fitzpatric scales.

Picosure laser to remove your tattoo

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Thank you for your question and photo. I recommend learning more about the Picosure laser in regards to permanently removing your tattoo. This revolutionary new laser will not harm the surrounding tissue while removing the laser. Good luck!

Bruce E. Katz, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.