PicoSure laser treatment is a method of removing tattoos or discolored skin areas like brown spots or acne scarring. The laser involved in the process fires for only a picosecond (one trillionth of a second) which is where the procedure gets its name. PicoSure has been validated as safe and effective by the FDA for both processes, and is considered one of the best forms of tattoo removal in existence today.
When a tattoo is administered, the ink is placed beneath the surface of the skin. The body identifies this as an invasive intruder and swarms it with white blood cells to contain and eradicate what it views as a threat: but the ink is too large for the white blood cells to carry away using the lymphatic system. This is the reason tattoos fade over time, but never totally go away: the body cannot transport the ink away to dispose of it.
This is where PicoSure comes in: the laser targets the blobs of ink and breaks them into tiny pieces that are small enough for the body to clean up and dispose of. Because there is high contrast between the ink and the surrounding tissue, the laser beam can target the ink without harming the patient’s skin. While black tattoo ink is the easiest to remove, PicoSure works for all tattoo colors, including difficult to remove pigments like red, green, and orange.
About a month before your scheduled treatment it is important to avoid sun exposure and tanning– the more melanin the skin, the more difficult it is for the laser to target the ink. While this can mean darker skinned individuals require more treatments to remove their tattoos fully, PicoSure is still a good solution. Additionally, individuals who have an infection or are otherwise sick, and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their doctors before the procedure. Smokers will need to abstain completely for two weeks before the treatment as well.
While the procedure itself is relatively fast (between ten and forty minutes, depending on the size of the area being treated) the number of sessions required to achieve desired results can vary by the individual. Typically between two and four sessions are needed for full tattoo removal, but skin blemishes can be removed in fewer sessions. Most sessions are scheduled with six to eight week increments in between them, so that the skin has time to heal itself.
Most patients compare PicoSure as less painful to getting a tattoo, though this is not always true. Most doctor offices will offer anesthetic or other topical pain relief for patients concerned about this.
Immediately after treatment the skin will be tender: patients must wait 24 hours before showering or submerging the treated area in water, and should avoid pools and hot tubs for the duration of the treatment. The body will react to the treated area like it has been injured, so it is important to take similar precautions as one would normally for a wound, including using topical creams and bandages.
Just like when getting a tattoo, it is important to leave the skin alone and not pick or scratch at it after treatment. There is a risk of scarring, so keep the skin well hydrated and covered in Vaseline or a similar ointment for three to five days while the body heals.