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Carmen Brodie, the VP of clinical operations for Removery, has decades of experience in laser tattoo removal. In fact, she’s been a leader in the field since its early days. Here, she shares the basics of how the laser removal process clears unwanted ink from your skin.

How does laser tattoo removal actually work? 

“Very simply, laser tattoo removal is aiding your body in doing what it’s already been trying to do,” Carmen explains. Your immune system has been working to get rid of that ink since the day you got the tattoo! That’s why an older tattoo has a more faded appearance than a newer one.

“New, fresh ink looks perfect and crisp, but something that’s a little older is more hazy,” says Carmen. “That’s your body breaking down particles of ink that are foreign; they’re not supposed to be there.” Your body slowly works to break down and remove the ink particles embedded in your skin. A laser just speeds up the process. The laser breaks down the ink particles into smaller pieces so your body can do what it’s been trying to do all along.

“The energy actually hits the particle, and it shatters it. And then it sits there and waits for your body to carry it away. So it flushes those particles away,” Carmen continues. Each time you go to a tattoo removal session, the laser’s energy breaks down more and more particles. This allows the immune system to remove the ink more efficiently until the tattoo fades away completely.

Here’s a quick visual of what happens to the ink during tattoo removal.

Tattoo-Removal-Illustration-01-768x769

The laser breaks apart the tattoo particles that are placed within the dermis into tiny fragments for your white blood cells to carry away through the lymphatic channel.

What’s the difference between pico and nanolaser technology?

Pico and nanolaser technology are two different types of tools for removing tattoos. Pico lasers are a more recent evolution.

“The main difference between pico technology and nanotechnology is the duration of the pulse within the skin. In nano, which is a little bit of older technology, it just sits there for a little bit longer,” Carmen explains. “A pico goes in and out more quickly.” This more effectively breaks the ink particles down into tinier pieces while causing minimal impact to the skin.

“If it’s smaller, your body has an easier time absorbing and carrying it away,” Carmen continues.

Why is a pico laser gentler on the skin? “A pico laser is not a heat-based laser, whereas a nanolaser is a heat-based laser,” says Carmen. “Any sort of feeling that you get from a pico laser is more of friction as opposed to heat. So most of our clients say that a pico treatment is less uncomfortable than a nano.” Learn more about laser tattoo removal machines in this guide. 

What type of aftercare is required after laser treatment?

“Taking care of a nano treatment after is a little bit more intense than in the case of a pico treatment,” Carmen asserts. “Pico is much more friendly and kind to your skin.” That means adverse effects like blisters are much less prevalent than with nanotechnology.

Carmen and the team at Removery chose which technology to use very carefully. “When deciding which laser we wanted to go with for this expansion, we did a year-long study,” she says. “That study included nanotechnology and all of the leading pico technology on the market then.”

They wanted to compare the results from the different lasers on the market firsthand. “We put them side by side in one room, and we had test models, and we divided all the tattoos to see which machine effectively treated the clients most safely and most quickly,” Carmen continues. “And Candela PicoWay was the company we chose.”