Q-Switched Ruby Lasers and Tattoo Removal

There are a number of important considerations in building a successful tattoo removal business; the importance of selecting a great location, front desk employees who excel at converting a telephone inquiry into an in-office consultation, marketing that clearly articulates your message and raises awareness of your services, along with pricing packages that bring the right mix and right number of customers streaming through your doors…and keep them coming back for more.


One of your most important decisions will be the selection of the right tattoo removal laser. This selection involves quality, cost, reliability, serviceability and performance. There are also four technical specifications to consider that will assist in your quest to build a successful laser tattoo removal business.
Technical Specifications to Consider:

  1. Wavelength
  2. Power
  3. Pulse duration
  4. Beam profile

This post will focus on the first consideration of which wavelengths of laser energy treats which ink colors best. Years ago, tattoos were done primarily in black ink. To reduce or remove this ink, a laser which specifically targeted black ink would deliver a strong enough laser pulse to essentially shatter the molecule containing the ink in the dermis. To accomplish this, lasers with extremely short pulse durations (Q-switched lasers) were employed. Once shattered, the ink is removed by the body’s natural scavenger cells and the skin cleared of the tattoo.


This was often done with Nd:YAG lasers operating at 1064 nm. This wavelength penetrates deeply and targets dark blue and black ink, which was, and remains, the dominant ink color used by tattoo artists. Most modern tattoo removal lasers have an Nd:YAG 1064 nm laser like the Quanta Q-Plus A to remove traditional black ink and the darkest blues.


As red and orange ink began to be used, Nd:YAG lasers operating at 532 nm were added to the 1064 nm and became the technology of choice. The Quanta Studio is an excellent example of a laser which delivers both 1064nm and 532nm wavelengths.


As tattoo artists expanded their color palettes, innovative laser manufacturers responded with additional wavelengths capable of targeting these colors. It is important to note that the laws of physics cannot be ignored despite the creative marketing employed by many laser companies. Tattoo pigment will selectively absorb light in a specific spectrum, and will ignore light from other spectra. Like a “magic bullet”, laser light of a specific wavelength selectively targets structures, and colors, within the skin. This is the basis for the process known as Selective Photothermolysis, which forms the basis for all understanding of laser tattoo removal. Certain tattoo pigments are selectively targeted by certain laser wavelengths. The converse of this statement is also true: only certain laser wavelengths can target certain tattoo pigments. It’s physics, regardless of what any lesser-informed laser sales representative may tell you.


A good example of the science at work: green tattoo pigment. This pigment is ignored by 1064/532nm lasers. That means that, despite your best efforts and numerous treatments, you simply cannot clear your customer’s green tattoo. That limits your revenue potential since many modern tattoos incorporate some green. The bigger issue is that many tattoos that appear black are, in fact, deeply pigmented green. You won’t see this at first. However, after two or three treatments, the green in the tattoo will be obvious. You have set yourself up for a very disappointed customer who will need to see your competition in order to finish their tattoo removal process. The loss in revenue and reputation can be devastating to a laser tattoo removal business.


A Q-switched Ruby 694 nm laser like the Quanta Q-Plus R creates a visible red light, which is highly absorbed by green tattoo pigments.  The ruby is the most effective wavelength for the brighter blue and blue-green inks. In order to treat the widest variety of tattoo inks—and potential customers—a device with all three of these discussed wavelengths is the best choice.


Today’s state-of-the-art technology adds a Ruby Q-switched laser at 694 nm to target blue and green inks used in many tattoos. Thus, one laser system emitting collated light at 1064 nm, 532 nm, and 694 nm represents the top of the technology pyramid. Quanta Aesthetic Lasers is the only company to sell the Quanta Q-Plus C, a single laser device which houses the Q-switched Nd:YAG 532 nm and 1064 nm lasers, and also a 694 nm ruby.  Other companies must sell two separate devices that have these wavelengths divided between the two lasers, but that second laser takes up valuable space in a clinic–a compromise that doesn’t need to be made with the industry gold-standard Quanta Q-Plus C.


The bottom line: there is significant opportunity for you and your practice. Laser tattoo removal has come of age and those who move forward aggressively can yield significant profits while building a strong market presence in an industry that will only expand further in the future.

For more guidance on choosing the best tattoo removal laser, call our Consultants at 866-353-5115.