Article medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic physician, liposuctionist)
Templestowe Lower and Berwick Clinics
Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2004, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction, fat transfer, skin needling, and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections.
What is the PiQo4 laser?
PiQo4 is actually an acronym for the features of this laser;
Pi – is short for a picosecond, or a billionth of a second. This laser is able to fire very short acting pulses in the billionths of a second domain.
Q – is short for Q-switched. Q-switching modulates the laser to produce nanosecond laser pulses. A nanosecond is a millionth of a second. The flexibility to fire either nanosecond or picosecond pulses improves the effectiveness of the laser for treating different skin conditions, skin types, and tattoos at different stages of removal.
4 – denotes that this laser produces 4 different wavelengths (1064nm, 532nm, 585nm and 650nm), each specific to treating different tattoo colours and certain skin types and skin concerns.
In comparison to other competing nanosecond and picosecond lasers, such as the PiQo4 laser has;
- Highest pulse energy – up to twice that of competing systems. This is one of the factors that has contributed to owners of the PiQo4 laser stating that up to 40% fewer treatments are required for complete tattoo removal in comparison to their other laser machines.
- The largest spot size available (up to 15.5mm) – larger spot sizes penetrate relatively deeper into the skin without having to use higher power settings, and this can reduce the risk of scarring with tattoo removal.
- 4 wavelengths available – studies show that 9 of the most common tattoo colours are absorbed by the 4 wavelengths available on the PiQo4. Other systems with fewer wavelengths (only one in some cases) cannot remove different colours as effectively.
- The ability to fire nanosecond or picosecond pulses allows it to treat a bigger variety of skin concerns, as well as tattoos in various stages of removal. For example, in the early stages of tattoo removal, the ink particles are bigger and respond better to nanosecond pulses than picosecond pulses(see below for more information).
- Homogenous beam profile – that is the laser beam over the entire spot size is more even which will lead to more even and consistent results.
- Fractional handpiece – to treat conditions such as melasma, rejuvenate skin without downtime, and also can create channels for the infusion of skin products.
High pulse energy and power required for effective treatments
The pulse energy is the amount of energy fired during a single laser pulse. Higher pulse energy is required especially in treatments such as tattoo removal.
The fluence or energy density is equal to the laser pulse energy over the effective focal spot area or spot size;
The fluence generated by the laser needs to reach a certain threshold to be effective for a given concern. For example, to break down a tattoo pigment, a certain fluence must be generated by a laser. Some lasers are unable to generate a high enough laser pulse energy, and to increase the fluence, they may utilise a smaller spot size to increase the fluence. A general laser physics principle is that the depth of penetration of a laser pulse is greater with larger spot sizes assuming the fluence is the same. Therefore, with larger spot sizes, lower fluences can be used, which reduces the risk of scarring.
High power is also required for lasers to fire very short pulses, especially in the picosecond (billionths of a second) range;
As the pulse duration becomes shorter, more power is required in order to keep the pulse energy high. Otherwise, the advantages of short picosecond pulses are negated by relatively low pulse energy in underpowered lasers.
The overall intensity of a laser pulse will depend on how powerful the laser is and its ability to fire adequate pulse energy over a short pulse duration or larger spot size.
Pulse width or duration - the difference between nanosecond and picosecond pulses
One of the key features of the PiQo4 laser is its ability to fire both picosecond pulses and nanosecond pulses. A picosecond is one-billionth of a second, and a nanosecond is one-millionth of a second.
The pulse width is the duration of each laser pulse. Until only a few years ago, the shortest pulse widths available for cosmetic lasers were in the nanosecond domain. Picosecond lasers have been a more recent development, and have expanded the use and effectiveness of these lasers.
For tattoo removal, having both nanosecond and picosecond pulses allows better tailoring of the laser treatment to remove different ink densities and tattoos at different stages of removal. The size of the ink particle will generally become smaller with laser treatments. Bigger ink particles may require longer nanosecond pulses to help to heat and disrupt larger ink particles. Conversely, as the ink particles become smaller, shorter picosecond pulses help to disrupt the smaller ink particles better. Lasers with only nanosecond or only picosecond pulses are disadvantaged to those like the PiQo4 which have both.
Multiple wavelengths required to remove different colours
The PiQo4 laser has 4 different wavelengths. These are 1064nm, 532nm, 650nm and 585nm (nm is a nanometer or one billionth of a meter). Different wavelengths are attracted to different coloured tattoo pigment or ink. When picosecond lasers were first released it was thought that because the pulse durations of these lasers were so short, it was possible to remove any coloured ink with a single wavelength. It was assumed that the short pulses could shatter any tattoo pigment. However, this was subsequently found not to be the case. Different wavelengths are required for different colours, irrespective of the pulse duration.
The 4 wavelengths on the PiQo4 laser allow it to remove almost any tattoo colour. Other lasers, especially those with only one or two wavelengths, cannot remove all colours. Some lasers only have 1064nm and 532nm, and these can remove most ink colours, but not green. There are also lasers for tattoo removal that only have one laser wavelength, and these are the least flexible in terms of removing different tattoo pigments.
Advantages for tattoo removal
To summarise the above points, the PiQo4 laser is effective for laser tattoo removal because;
- It has 4 laser wavelengths to remove the majority of tattoo pigments.
- It has high pulse energy and high power which allows the use of larger spot sizes which cause less scarring, and also allows sufficient energy to be provided during very short pulse durations.
- The option of larger spot sizes up to 15.5mm
- Both picosecond and nanosecond pulses to optimise pulse duration for tattoos at different stages of removal.
Advantages of PiQo4 laser for skin pigmentation treatment
Problems of skin pigmentation affect people of all ages and skin types. Laser procedures are one of the methods of treating skin pigmentation concerns. Due to the variety of skin pigmentation concerns on different skin types, laser treatments need to be tailored. In general, one laser or one laser wavelength cannot treat all concerns. The PiQo4, with 4 wavelengths and both picosecond and nanosecond wavelengths, has the ability to treat a large number of skin pigmentation concerns.
Different wavelengths penetrate to different depths and can be more or less attracted to the key target – melanin (the pigment in skin). Having different wavelengths provides a greater ability to marry the type and depth of pigmentation concern with an appropriate wavelength.
Picosecond pulse durations have also added a new frontier to the treatment of skin pigmentation concerns. They may be particularly useful in the treatment of pigmentation problems on olive or darker skin types. Picosecond laser pulses are ultra-short and impart less heat energy onto the skin, and this, in turn, reduces the risk of heating or burning normal skin, whilst still being able to treat the problem pigmentation. Concerns such as melasma are particularly suited picosecond laser treatment.
Advantages of PiQo4 for skin rejuvenation treatment
The PiQo4 is also an effective laser for skin rejuvenation treatment. It is possible to use quite low settings on this laser to treat the skin and provide a brightening of the skin and improved skin quality. Usually, there is little or no downtime when the laser is used in this manner.
An example would be the use of the PiQo4’s 1064nm wavelength in picosecond mode, using a low fluence, large spot size, and high repetitions per second. The low fluence reduces the risk of the treatment. The 1064nm wavelength and large spot size is penetrates deeply into the skin, and is more uniform in its coverage of the face than smaller spot sizes. The face can also be quickly covered with high repetitions per second. This treatment only takes a few minutes, is not painful, has no downtime, and provides improvements in skin quality.
A fractional handpiece can also be used to further increase the depth of penetration of the treatment and help to treat pigmentation and improve skin with less risk and downtime.
Why choose Victorian Cosmetic Institute as your provider of laser treatments?
At Victorian Cosmetic Institute, we use the latest laser technology to perform your treatment. We have a wide variety of lasers at our clinic so we are able to choose the one that is most suited to your skin concern. The PiQo4 laser is the class leader for tattoo removal, being able to remove tattoos of any
The PiQo4 laser is the class leader for tattoo removal, being able to remove tattoos of any colour with its 4 wavelengths, and also by being the most powerful laser available. Our practitioners are also highly experienced in laser treatments and will be able to give you the best advice for your treatment. The first step is simply contacting us for your initial laser skin rejuvenation consultation, where we will discuss with you what is a realistic and achievable outcome, and what to expect from your laser treatment.
Making that first phone call about any cosmetic procedure can be a confronting task – many of our patients have preferred filling out our online enquiry form. We can then contact you with an understanding of the results you are hopeful of achieving and ensure the treatment is appropriate. It’s as easy as clicking either of the buttons below and completing the provided form. Otherwise, you can phone us directly on 1300 863 824.