Q-Switch / Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser and Picosecond Laser (sometimes called Pico Laser) are both advanced technologies that are commonly used in aesthetic treatments to address a range of skin concerns, including tattoo removal, pigmentation removal and skin rejuvenation. We take a look at the technical differences and applications of the Laser technologies.
Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser
The Q-Switched / Q-Switch Nd:YAG Laser is a type of Laser used in medical and aesthetic procedures. It works by producing short pulses of high-intensity light that are absorbed by the targeted tissue, which can be anything from pigmented lesions to tattoo inks.
How it works:
- The Nd:YAG Laser crystal is excited by a flash lamp or diode, causing it to emit light at specific wavelengths.
- The Laser beam is then focused by a lens, then directed onto the targeted tissue.
- The energy from the Laser is absorbed by the targeted tissue, which causes it to heat up and break down.
- As the tissue breaks down, it releases pigments or other substances that are then removed by the body’s natural processes.
The Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser is unique in that it produces very short pulses of light (measured in nanoseconds) with very high peak power. This allows it to selectively target pigmented lesions or tattoo ink without damaging the surrounding tissue.
Additionally, the Q-Switched Laser uses a “Q-Switch” mechanism that allows it to rapidly switch on and off, producing pulses of light that are very intense and short. This helps to minimize the amount of heat that is transferred to the surrounding tissue, reducing the risk of side effects.
Picosecond lasers, sometimes called Pico Lasers, are a type of Laser used in medical and aesthetic procedures that deliver ultra-short pulses of light that are measured in picoseconds (trillionths of a second). The Picosecond Laser works on a similar principle to the Q-Switched laser, but with much shorter pulse durations.
How it works:
- The Picosecond Laser uses a high-power Laser diode to generate pulses of light at a specific wavelength (usually 755 nm or 1064 nm).
- The Laser beam is focused onto the target area, such as tattoo ink or a pigmented lesion.
- The ultra-short pulses of light delivered by the Picosecond Laser create a photoacoustic effect, which means they produce a mechanical pressure wave that breaks apart the pigment in the target tissue into smaller fragments.
- The smaller pigment fragments are then expelled by the body’s natural immune system.
Picosecond Laser can deliver shorter pulse durations, which means it can break apart pigments into smaller fragments with less thermal damage to the surrounding tissue.
This can make it more effective for treating certain types of pigments, such as stubborn tattoos, while also reducing the risk of scarring and other side effects.
Picosecond Laser can also be used on a wider range of skin types and colours, as it is less likely to cause hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation, compared to older Laser technologies.
Comparing Q-Switched Nd:YAG vs Picosecond Lasers
Both Q-switched Nd:YAG laser and Picosecond Laser are very similar in their applications. However, there are some key differences:
The main difference between the two lasers is the pulse duration. Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser has a pulse duration of nanoseconds, while Picosecond Laser has a much shorter pulse duration of picoseconds.
This means that Picosecond Lasers can deliver shorter, more powerful bursts of energy, allowing for faster and more precise treatment. Yet Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser can provide a wider range of pigmentation treatments.
Due to the shorter pulse duration, Picosecond Lasers can deliver treatment in a shorter time frame, usually within a few sessions. Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser may require more treatments to achieve the same results.
Wavelengths & Ink Colours
Research has shown that different wavelengths & power levels can target different ink colours when used in Laser tattoo removal. For example, Q-Switched laser using 532nm wavelength can target red orange & purple inks – Picosecond laser using 1064nm can target black, blue & green inks.
Q-Switched Nd:YAG wavelengths :
Picosecond wavelengths :
To summarise, Picosecond Laser may be a better option for those looking for faster and more precise results, while Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser is still an effective choice for tattoo removal and a wider range of pigmentation applications. The effectiveness depends on the balance between pulse duration & power, depending on the targeted treatment.