Tattoos have been around for centuries but the over the past decade, the number of individuals getting tattoo has surged dramatically and so has tattoo remorse, typically among middle aged Americans. As a practitioner, it makes sense to take advantage of this growing opportunity to help individuals get rid of unwanted tattoos. The average cost for a tattoo removal session can range from $200 to $500 depending on the equipment used and since depending on the size of the tattoo it may take several sessions with a tattoo removal laser to get rid of the tattoo, the total cost of removal can range from usually $1000 to even as much as $10,000. A 1 inch by 1 inch area of skin takes about 5 minutes to treat. There are many tattoo removal lasers on the market so which one is right for your business and your patients?
The Evolution of Tattoo Laser Technology
Laser technology has come a long way for a variety of aesthetic treatments and that is also the case for tattoo removal. Lasers were first used in the 1970s; these were Argon and then then eventually CO2 lasers. Results weren’t great – scarring, residual tattoo pigments and lightened skin were problematic. And it hurt like heck.
In the 1990s Q-Switched hit the market. These are continuous wave lasers with wavelengths of 532 nm and 1064 nm and they use nanosecond technology. Continuum Biomedical (eventually acquired by Hoya ConBio) was one of the first manufacturers to produce Q-Switched medical lasers for tattoo removal.
Q-Switched lasers represented an improvement over previous lasers because they treat all color ranges and emit light energy in nanoseconds. Another big plus is that these lasers also typically don’t leave scars.
The Q-switched lasers were developed with three different types of technology – the Nd:YAG, the ruby and alexandrite. Each of these offered their own effectiveness based on tattoo ink color. Q-Switched Ruby lasers were most effective with black and blue ink and Q-Switched Alexandrite was the best with green ink. The release of Hoya ConBio’s MedLite IV Q-Switched Nd:YAG meant that all colors could be treated with the assistance of dye impregnated polymers.
Latest Tattoo Removal Lasers to Hit the Market
The latest tattoo removal lasers to hit the market are the PicoWay by Syneron and the PicoSure by CynoSure. Both of these lasers get the job done, but watch your pockets – they cost over $200K to acquire, so you better be able to draw in a significant volume of steady clientele who can afford a treatment session with this laser. The PicoSure which was released with much fanfare, does an excellent job on red, orange and yellow ink, which are some of the hardest colors to treat. It uses a combination of 532 nm and 755 nm wavelengths to remove all tattoo ink colors. This laser boasts picosecond technology over nanosecond technology and shatters targeted ink into tiny particles that are then eliminated by the body. The PicoWay uses picosecond technology with 1064 nm and 532 nm wavelengths. Both of these lasers offer shorter treatment times, less pain and less sessions, but the acquisition costs are huge.
ConBio MedLite C6 Is Your Best Bet For A Tattoo Removal Laser Based on Cost and Effectiveness
The MedLite C6 by Hoya ConBio remains one of the best all round lasers for tattoo removal. From the practitioner perspective, the acquisition cost of a used MedLite C6 is nominal compared to one of the newer picosecond lasers. Also from a maintenance perspective the C6 is a very durable unit and repairs are very easy as parts are readily available to fix these units. The Nd:YAG laser has a very fast repetition rate of up to 10 Hz / pulses per second. Light energy is delivered from 532 to 1064 nm.
From a patient perspective, the MedLite C6 is able to treat all colors of tattoos on all skin types. This is made possible by the used of additional handpieces that utilize dye-impregnated polymers to convert light energy to different wavelengths. For example a polymer can convert a 532 nm wavelength to 585 or to 650 which will allows you to target different ink colors more effectively. You can treat a complete range of multi-colored inks that are more prevalent in today’s tattoos. The only downside is that the laser can be painful, but with numbing cream and lidocaine, the pain level can be reduced or become minimal. It also will take more sessions, but is still less expensive over the long run.
In the end, the MedLite C6 is an affordable and highly effective option from both the patient and provider perspective. It works on all skin types, and ink colors.