Getting a tattoo is a commitment made with permanent ink. Some put a lot of thought into visual appeal and symbolism. For others, their ink is the result of a dare, impaired judgment, an unlicensed tattoo artist or may be a reminder of a broken relationship. Whether it's a change of heart or a poor tattoo job, according to a July 14 article on Wachfox, many people are turning to a new technology for laser tattoo removal. The FDA-approved PicoSure by Cynosure has transformed the process using the first and only picosecond laser which removes pigment more effectively and rapidly than conventional Q-switched lasers. Examiner.com had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Roy Geronemus, Director of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York to learn more about this effective laser treatment.
Examiner (EX) How does the PicoSure laser differ from other lasers used to remove tattoos?
Dr. Geronemus (Dr. G): [It is] recognized as the first significant improvement in laser tattoo removal in more than 20 years. PicoSure by Cynosure is the world’s first FDA-cleared picosecond aesthetic laser for tattoo removal. Unlike many tattoo removal lasers […] PicoSure laser utilizes “picosecond technology,” which are ultra-short pulse bursts of energy delivered to the skin in trillionths of a second, resulting in faster results and better clearance.
Traditional nanosecond lasers predominately rely on photothermal action, delivering heat to the pigment and surrounding tissue. PicoSure’s ultra-short pulse duration goes beyond photothermal action, creating an intense photomechanical impact. PicoSure’s patented PressureWave Technology shatters the target ink into tiny particles that are easily eliminated by the body resulting in better clearance with fewer treatments, less effluence, and without injury to the surrounding skin.
EX: Does it leave any scaring or discoloration of skin?
Dr. G: No. The chance of scarring or permanent discoloration following treatment with the PicoSure is quite small.
EX: How many visits are required for total removal in comparison to previous laser removal methods?
Dr. G: The number of treatments vary based upon on a number of factors including colors of the ink and age of the tattoos. Complete removal can be seen anywhere from 1- to over 10 treatments. However, patients can see a dramatic before and after results in the first treatment, which can be done in as little as 60 seconds, depending on the size of the tattoo.
EX: Are there any certain colors that are harder to remove?
Dr. G: Blue and green ink is notoriously difficult to remove with traditional lasers, but these colors respond very quickly with the PicoSure laser.
EX: Does it hurt more than getting a tattoo?
Dr. G: A numbing cream or local anesthetic can be administered prior to treatment to ensure optimal comfort during the procedure.
EX: Do you have to be a doctor to perform tattoo removal?
Dr. G: As with any treatment of this nature, it is always wise to seek out a licensed professional who is properly trained to perform the procedure and working within the practice of medicine laws within that state or country – not your random salon owner who has only had a weekend crash course. It’s vital that patients do their homework, going as far as asking to see examples of the practitioners past work, including patient testimonials.
EX: Is PicoSure laser tattoo removal expensive?
Dr. G: In general, the cost of a PicoSure treatment can vary anywhere from $300 to $1000 per treatment, depending on the size of the tattoo. Also, some doctors may offer package deals (i.e., charge patients per tattoo, not per treatment, depending on the tattoo).
National Tattoo Day
Tattoos offer an artistic way to express yourself, however, be sure to give it thought and seek out an experienced tattoo artist. If you've been thinking about it, Thursday, July 17, is National Tattoo Day. It's an informal holiday that recognizes tattooing, the tattoo culture and tattoo artists. What better day to get inked? However, part of that culture includes removal of bad or unwanted ink. If you're thinking of having one of your tats removed check out the Cynosure website to see more before and after pics and to watch a 90-second video that shows how PicoSure works.