Q-switched lasers have made a huge impact in the aesthetic world, primarily for their ability to safely and effectively remove unwanted tattoos. However, that’s not all they’re capable of doing. This innovative technology has been instrumental in the development of various clinical and dermatological applications.
Many of the procedures performed by Q-switched lasers are popular, in-demand treatments that are sought out daily by millions of people all around the world. In fact, the medical aesthetics industry is expected to reach $13.29 billion by 2021.
In this article, we will discuss the most popular Q-switched laser procedures and the benefits of adding these services to your practice.
What is Q-switching?
Q-switching is the result of a technology with which a laser produces a pulsed beam of light energy. Unlike a continuous wave laser that delivers a steady beam of light, a Q-switched laser emits a very short and intense pulse of light followed by a short period of no light. The length of each pulse is called a pulse duration. Pulses that last a few milliseconds are typically considered long pulses, while pulses in the nanoseconds range are considered short. Q-switched Nd:YAG laser pulses generally range from 3 to 7 nanoseconds.
Q-switching generates selective photothermolysis, a technique used to target tissue in an area using specific wavelengths of light energy to heat and destroy pigments and tissue components without damaging any surrounding skin tissue. It is this technique that is used to carry out the following procedures.
Laser Tattoo Removal
Currently, around 45 million Americans are getting tattoos. As the demand for tattoos increases, so does the demand for tattoo removal. Laser tattoo removal has proved to be the only successful method to safely and effectively remove tattoos to completion without resulting in scarring or damage to the skin. Patients of all ages, genders, and demographics seek tattoo removal, with the average patient being a female in her late 20s. Year after year, more patients experience “tattoo regret” and seek out laser tattoo removal in hopes of regaining control over their skin. Entrepreneurs, tattoo artists, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and more are adding laser tattoo removal onto their practice.
Depending on which laser you purchase, you will be able to treat a specific spectrum of tattoo colors. Most Q-switched Nd:YAG lasers are equipped with 1064 nm and 532 nm wavelengths, like our Astanza Duality, and can treat most tattoo colors. Lasers like ourAstanza Trinity offer a third ruby wavelength, 694 nm, which make it a system capable of treating all ink colors, particularly resistant green and blue pigments that are considered untreatable with traditional lasers.
Pigmented Lesion Removal
Pigmented lesions, also referred to as brown spots or age spots, are common skin blemishes in the skin that form due to age or excessive sun exposure. Most patients get this procedure to rewind signs of aging. Pigmented lesions are caused by excess melanin in the skin. While the majority of pigmented lesions are harmless, some are melanomas and can be associated with skin cancer. Q-switched lasers are able to break up the excess melanin of benign lesions and completely remove them within 1 to 2 treatments.
If you choose to offer this procedure and are not a licensed medical professional, we recommend having your patients see a dermatologist or physician before proceeding with treatment.
Vascular Lesion Removal
Vascular lesions, commonly referred to as spider veins, are another common skin blemish that can be successfully treated with Q-switched lasers. Vascular lesions are the result of numerous or large vessels that appear directly underneath the skin. They are usually red or purple and form in all shapes and sizes on all parts of the body, most commonly on the face and legs. Although vascular lesions are harmless, many patients wish to remove them for aesthetic reasons.
Q-switched lasers emit use light energy to collapse the veins and capillaries while leaving the surrounding skin tissue unharmed. It only takes a few treatments to break down the vein and reveal clear skin.
Toenail Fungus Treatment
Toenail fungus is a very common condition and is experienced by as many as 10-15% of Americans. Clinically named onychomycosis, toenail fungus is an infection of the nail and nail bed that results in a change of appearance in the nail. Toenail fungus causes a nail to look yellow, brittle, thickened, and oddly shaped. Toenail fungus usually presents itself in warm, damp environments such as locker room. People who have diabetes, athlete’s foot, weak immune systems, or spend a lot of time in water are also likely to develop toenail fungus.
Q-switched laser treatment is the most effective method to treat toenail fungus. Unlike topical creams, lasers are able to emit light energy through the nail plate to the nail bed where the fungus and infection reside. Visible changes are not seen immediately, but can be seen after a few months, once the nail grows out.