What’s an Nd:YAG laser and what does the acronym stand for? Well here’s your answer: neodymium-yttrium-aluminum-garnet. Wow, no wonder someone came up with an acronym, right? Yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) is a synthetic crystalline material of the garnet group (see photo below). YAG is commonly used as a host material in various solid-state lasers. Rare earth elements such as neodymium can be doped into YAG as active laser ions, yielding Nd:YAG. So now that we know what it stands for, what do all those words really mean? Here you go:
- Neodymium: A shiny, silvery metallic element of the lanthanide series. It is used to make glass for welders’ goggles and purple glass for lasers.
- Yttrium: A silvery metallic element used to strengthen magnesium and aluminum alloys, and as a component of various optical and electronic devices.
- Aluminum: A lightweight, silvery-white metallic element that is ductile, is found chiefly in bauxite, and is a good conductor of electricity. It is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust.
- Garnet: Natural garnet crystals are dodecahedral (12 sided polyhedron) in shape, transparent to semitransparent, and have a vitreous luster. YAG lasers utilize synthetic garnets like those shown below.
Q-switched Nd:YAG lasers also contain a potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP) crystal in addition to the Nd:YAG crystal, which doubles the frequency of the 1064nm laser light. The result is both a 1064nm and 532nm wavelength at the relatively slow pulse speed (for lasers) of a nanosecond. This allows for the photothermal clearance of some pigments but fires so slowly that often times the tissue is permanently damaged. At one time, this was the only possible way to remove a tattoo besides excision. A significant percentage of patients were left scarred or hypopigmented and with residual tattoo ink of previously untreatable colors such as blue, green, purple and recalcitrant black.
PicoSure lasers pulse 100 times faster than their POS Q-switched cousins and deliver both the 755nm and 532nm wavelengths to remove virtually all colors effectively without damaging the skin. The picosecond pulse creates a PressureWave that courses through the skin and literally dislodges and shatters ink pigments in to the smallest of fragments which can be readily absorbed and removed by the body. If you have a colorful tattoo you would like to remove completely or simply fade for a fresh new cover up, I can be reached by phone @ 512-479-9997 or just stop by my NEW location in Austin, TX: Austin Medspa on W. 6th St.