Tattoo Removal Why Colours Are Not Removed Equally

Removal of coloured tattoosIf you’ve made a trip to the beach recently, you might have noticed that tattoos have become so popular that they can’t really be considered radical anymore. Around a quarter of Australian men and women aged 20-29 have at least one tattoo and the rate is rising. Tattoos are still an expression of individuality, but with improved techniques and a greater range of colours to use, tattoos are also becoming more intricate and artistic.

However, a downside to the broader palette of colours available is that coloured pigments can be difficult to remove should the appeal of the tattoo ever fade. This article explains how tattoo inks interact with the lasers during laser tattoo removal and how this can affect the overall success of treatment.



Tattoo inks are composed of the coloured pigment and a carrier solution. The pigments are made from a range of sources, from plant-based dyes, to manufactured chemicals or dyes derived from metals (iron, cobalt, cadmium or zinc are examples). The carrier solution is generally alcohol, because it keeps the dye solution sterile and keeps the pigment fluid so that it moves easily through the needles and into the skin.



Lasers work by sending high intensity, but extremely short (measured in billionths of a second) pulses of light into the skin. The pigment attracts and absorbs the light energy and converts it to heat. The heat makes the pigment swell and finally shatter into small fragments that are removed by the body’s natural detoxification processes.

The problem in laser tattoo removal is that different colours of pigment require different waves lengths. Black is the easiest pigment to remove, because it is the darkest and absorbs the most energy all wave lengths. Green and blues are some of the most difficult as they don’t absorb most wavelengths. Using the wrong wave length and type of laser means little results. In the past, this has meant that multi-coloured tattoos required complicated (and costly) treatment regimes, using different lasers to treat different colours with very little results.

PicoWay operates at the 1064nm and 532nm wavelength so that it covers a wide spectrum of colour. The most important factor is the PicoWay operates at the picosecond speed which means the laser creates a photo-acoustic shockwave to shatter the ink instead of the old q-switched lasers with was a photo-thermal effect to heat the ink to break it down.


The PicoWay laser is a new generation laser with a much shorter energy pulse (measured in picoseconds, a trillionth of a second) than traditional lasers. The PicoWay is 4.5 times more powerful in shattering the pigment, and creates smaller fragments that are removed more efficiently.

A big advantage of the PicoWay laser over traditional lasers is that the safer short pulse length, combined with two different energy levels (532nm and 1064nm), is able to remove multiple tattoo colours at the same time. The higher energy 532nm laser removes red, yellow and orange pigment, while the lower energy 1064nm laser removes black, brown, green, blue and purple.

The PicoWay laser system is a significant step forward in laser tattoo removal and is the best option for removing or fading intricate, multi-coloured tattoos. If you are looking into having your tattoo removed, come in for a free consultation to see the amazing results we have achieved with the PicoWay Laser system.