pico & nano machines

Tattoo Removal Tech Talk

An Important Approach To This Topic.

We wanted our take on this subject to be as evidence based as possible, where rather than trying to tell you one laser system is your only option, our aim is to provide you with more knowledge on the top machines and on how to make sure you’ll be safe. This article takes into consideration what we believe to be the best performing picosecond and nanosecond machines currently being used for tattoo removal in Sydney: The Quanta Discovery Pico, The Quanta Q-Plus C Evo, and The Syneron Candela PicoWay.

pico & nano machinesWhen beginning tattoo removal, it’s crucial you do so based on what the outcome of your treatments will be. Choosing a clinic that doesn‘t provide any evidence of results will more than likely end in disappointment. Most machine manufacturers market their product as being more advanced than any other, and these claims are commonly pushed by tattoo removal clinics in their advertising to convince potential clients to partner with them, often without even mentioning any results they’ve achieved.

Before we start, it’s important to stress that we in no way recommend you visit a clinic operating with a PicoSure laser. Please visit this link should you need any more information.

One current hot topic surrounds the concept that picosecond systems can produce quicker results than their nanosecond counterparts, and you may have heard that picosecond machines are faster. We’ve come across a number of statements claiming them to be anywhere from ‘100 times’ to ‘1000 times’ faster than nanosecond machines. But what does the ‘speed’ actually refer to?

An easy mistake to make is thinking of the speed like driving a car. In fact, it’s the speed that the laser switches off after it makes contact with your tattoo…just like an extremely fast light switch. The Quanta & Syneron Pico machines switch off after 450 picoseconds (0.45 nanoseconds) when treating black ink, while our Q-Plus C Evo switches off after 6 nanoseconds.

With some quick math (feel free to check yourself), this means both pico machines only switch off 13 times faster than the Q-Plus C Evo, not even close to the claim of ‘1000 times faster’. Even so, why is this being considered more efficient in theory?

mathematics of tattoo removal pulses

The greatest claim is that it allows more ink to break down per treatment, by creating a larger photo-acoustic (shock) effect. This has been exaggerated through animated images and videos, but no real evidence exists of it actually being the case. While the specs are appealing on paper, there are no case studies available (not even level 5 evidence) to back up the claims. Considering they’ve been on the market for a number of years, the comparative data should be available. Further, there have been no split tests with the Discovery Pico (which houses both technologies) to compare the two settings. By splitting a number of centrally located tattoos right down the middle, treating one side pico and one side nano, the differences should supposedly be clear. As the data is not available, the question must be asked: Is the difference in speed not enough to show any significant difference in results?

When reviewing research articles published through the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) – part of the United States National Library of Medicine –  we found no evidence comparing any of the machines mentioned in this article. In fact, the only comparisons available looked at outdated pico and nano technology with very different specifications. To strengthen this point, one of Sydney’s longest serving tattoo removal specialists is still using nanosecond technology and produces results which are undoubtedly the best in Australia.

One aspect of pico technology we enjoy is the idea that faster lasers will produce less heat (the faster you turn a light on and off, the less heat generated).  This can contribute to reducing the possibility of short term side effects or even speed up the healing process after your treatment. Again however, no true evidence exists comparing differences between the 3 machines in this article, and as far as we understand no numerical values indicative of heat production have been reported. With the differences in speed measuring just 5.55 billionths of a second between the technologies, we’re interested in what these values might be.

false comparison of tattoo removal laser pulsesFurther, both the Quanta Discovery Pico and Quanta Q-Plus C Evo have exactly the same laser to treat blue and green inks. Should you be deciding between the two and have these colours, there is no need to choose based on the machine, as there is no difference in the speed (just be confident in your laser specialist). On the other hand, the PicoWay uses a different laser to treat these colours, which is unique to the PicoWay only. As this reasonably new addition has been available for more than 12 months, it could be suggested that any real advancements for treating with this wavelength would now be apparent, however at this time there is no indication.

Another point to consider when comparing the 3 systems is the considerably higher peak power of the Quanta machines (ability to hit harder) when compared with the Picoway. While we feel this is important based on experience treating more difficult tattoos, it is again hard to comment on without any true evidence. As far as our own research goes, we’d say that there are a number of clinics operating with Quanta System technology that have more extensive portfolios than those operating with a PicoWay machine. This could however be due to a variety of different reasons not only including the machine capabilities. We’re also confident the discomfort is similar with all systems, from both experience and client feedback. In specialist clinics this can be managed with chilled air, numbing cream and regular breaks during treatment.

We’d like to sum up this post by answering the following 2 questions: Is it advantageous for the laser to fire as quickly as possible? The answer is YES. Is there any conclusive data (at all) comparing the 3 machines of this article? The answer is NO. If anyone would like to contact us with any uncertainties about this topic, please feel free to do so. We’ve never come across an article written in this way before, so we’d love to hear from both clients and fellow laser specialists with their thoughts. We’d also like to call on operators of the Quanta Discovery to conduct high quality clinical trials comparing the pico and nano settings. It is important for the tattoo removal industry to have this information available and you have the opportunity to be at the forefront of the research.

On a final note, we’d like to say this does not necessarily mean these are the only machines you should consider, but they are our top three choices. Machine specs do matter, but the best way to check is to look at the clinics portfolio. Should you be searching and are a little unsure, make sure they have a good catalogue of results achieved in the clinic, start with a test patch and don’t commit to any long term packages unless you’re completely confident.

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