Difference Between Q-switch and Pico-Switch Lasers

Difference Between Q-switch and Pico-Switch Lasers

Q-switched and picosecond lasers are both types of lasers used in dermatology for various skin treatments. Here are the differences between them and references for further reading:


Q-Switched Laser

Picosecond Laser

Pulse Duration





Ultra-short pulse duration

Pulse Formation

Population inversion and rapid switching

Population inversion and ultra-fast switching

Pulse Duration and Energy

Short nanosecond pulses with high peak power

Ultra-short picosecond pulses with even higher peak power

Targeting Pigment

Selective photothermolysis to break down pigments

Highly efficient in shattering pigment particles


  1. Q-switched Laser: Utilizes Q-switching to generate high-intensity, short nanosecond pulses for targeting pigment. Effective for tattoo removal and pigmented lesion treatments.
  2. Picosecond Laser: Utilizes ultra-short picosecond pulses for highly efficient pigment shattering, making it faster and more effective in tattoo removal and pigmented lesion treatments compared to Q-switched lasers.

Both lasers use precise pulse durations to selectively target and break down pigment particles, but the ultra-short pulse duration of picosecond lasers allows for faster and more efficient pigment fragmentation and elimination.


Anderson RR, Parrish JA. (1983). Selective photothermolysis: precise microsurgery by selective absorption of pulsed radiation. Science, 220(4596), 524-527.

Brauer JA, Kazlouskaya V, Alabdulrazzaq H, et al. (2012). Use of a picosecond pulse duration laser with specialized optic for treatment of facial acne scarring. JAMA Dermatol, 148(11), 125-130.

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