- PicoSure is quickly surpassing traditional lasers in terms of effective tattoo removal because it’s faster, more effective and more affordable.
- The procedure uses picosecond technology to deliver short bursts of energy into the skin, effectively breaking ink into tiny particles for the body to process.
- Compared with traditional Q-switched lasers, PicoSure has more power to eradicate stubborn, old, previously-treated tattoos.
- Bonus points: PicoSure is gentler on the body (it doesn’t affect the surrounding skin) and comes with almost no downtime or side effects.
Tattoos are more popular than ever — 36 percent of young Americans have one or more of them, according to the Pew Research Center — and, while a good chunk of these people love their tats, others have the occasional regret. In fact, a survey presented at the annual meeting of the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) found that nearly one-third of people who have tattoos regret getting them. So what do you do when you have tattoo regret? Look into tattoo removal procedures, of course!
There are dozens of solutions on the market, from laser tattoo removal to creams and cover-ups. When you’re shopping around for different ways to zap away your regrettable tat’s, you’ll find that laser options are by and large the most popular and most effective procedures. In short, lasers target the old tattoo ink, breaking it into small fragments that are then flushed away by your immune system. Pretty cool, right? But like all cosmetic procedures, not all laser treatments are created equally.
In this article, we’re diving into the world of PicoSure tattoo removal, a technology developed after decades of research by Cynosure. This tattoo removal treatment claims to comfortably, conveniently and effectively remove tattoos using a new generation of aesthetic lasers. The PicoSure laser is also used to revitalize the skin, and claims to smooth away age spots, acne scars, brown spots, freckles and yes, even wrinkles.
How Does PicoSure Work?
Unlike traditional lasers, PicoSure laser tattoo removal works by delivering short bursts of PressureWaveTM technology at a wavelength of either 532 nm, 755 nm or 1064 nm, depending on the treatment. Compared with traditional Q-switched lasers (at one time the most popular laser technology for removing unwanted tat’s), the PicoSure laser doesn’t rely on heat or burning to melt away tattoos.
Instead, it uses rapid, short pulse energy, called Picosecond technology, to penetrate the tattoo colors and break them up. The patented PressureWaveTM is more hyper-focused than regular lasers’ nanosecond technology. The pulse width used in this picosecond laser is 100 times shorter than a nanosecond, which triggers a photomechanical effect and improves the results of the removal process.
Essentially, the PicoSure treatment shoots this advanced laser into the ink that breaks it into tiny particles that are similar to dust. These particles are then absorbed by the body’s lymphatic system and eliminated naturally. Compared with traditional nanosecond lasers, picosecond lasers require fewer treatments and are more likely to get rid of the most stubborn inks.
The PicoSure Procedure
What can you expect when you go under the light, so to speak? The PicoSure procedure is similar to other skin resurfacing procedures in the sense that for ideal results it will require multiple treatments. Each session typically takes 10 to 15 minutes and most patients report only mild pain (more on that below). How many sessions are required depends on the size, color and age of your tattoo, but most tattoos are completely removed within two to six sessions.
Compared to traditional laser tattoo removal treatments, which typically take six to 12 laser treatments for completion, PicoSure offers a quicker and easier solution. Side effects are minimal, and you’re able to return to your daily life immediately after treatment. This is great news for people who are keen on the idea of “lunch break tattoo removal”. You also won’t be required to cover up the area after treatment.
Like any laser treatment, some level of pain can be expected during the PicoSure procedure as well. Most people report that it feels similar to the sensation of a rubber band snapping against the skin. In other words, it’s not much worse than getting a new or cover-up tattoo. The good news is that most providers are able to pre-treat the area with a numbing cream to help dull the pain.
Why It’s Different
PicoSure is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for tattoo removal, wrinkles, acne scar treatment and the removal of benign pigmented lesions. It’s safe for all skin types and claims to zap away all tattoo inks, regardless of color. The treatment is recommended for erasing multicolored, black, and previously-treated tattoos.
PicoSure also claims to effectively remove the most stubborn recalcitrant tattoos. These are the tattoos that, no matter how many times they’ve been zapped, just won’t disappear. PicoSure lasers are said to break up the residual ink colors — especially those super stubborn black and green inks — and difficult scarring on the surrounding skin for a clean result post-treatment.
Because PicoSure is considered a more premium way to get rid of unwanted tattoos, it’s an excellent option for people who want amazing results regardless of whether or not their tattoo removal treatments have shown success in the past. And, as previously mentioned, PicoSure stands out from other forms of laser tattoo removal because it does the job in fewer sessions.
Older tattoo removal lasers only heated the ink, whereas PicoSure heats and fractures it. This, coupled with the quick-pulsing laser, makes it a much faster alternative. This form of tattoo removal is also considered to be less painful than traditional lasers. This is because most standard lasers, such as Q-switched lasers, penetrate the skin more deeply and can affect the nerve fibers which trigger pain.
Is it Safe? Risk and Side Effects
Most practitioners report that PicoSure is safe and highly effective at zapping away old, unfavorable tattoos. What’s more, the treatment promises little or no side effects and causes no injury to the surrounding skin. In one report of PicoSure studies and reviews, researchers determined that PicoSure and other picosecond lasers only caused a few mild side effects, such as hypopigmentation, slight bruising and blistering.
After treatment, most patients only report minor swelling and redness for a few hours. What’s also great about this treatment is that it doesn’t damage the surface of the skin, so unlike other types of lasers, patients can apply makeup, moisturizers and sunscreen immediately if they want. Being able to apply sunscreen so soon afterward is an important consideration, as it mitigates the risk of sunburn and sun damage, which is often worsened after laser treatment.
PicoSure Tattoo Removal Cost
Now that we know that PicoSure is faster, gentler and generally more effective than old-fashioned laser tattoo removal methods, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: how much does PicoSure cost? Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer to this question. The cost of your total tattoo removal depends on how big, how complex and how stubborn the ink in question is.
With that being said, the average cost of PicoSure for tattoo removal is between $300 and $1,500, depending on where you live and your unique circumstances. Most practitioners price PicoSure treatments based on the size, color density and pigments of the tattoo. Some charge by the square inch. For example, this clinic charges $50 per square inch per treatment, equalling $150 per treatment.
Let’s take a look at how PicoSure stands up to other tattoo removal options in terms of cost. The average cost of traditional laser tattoo removal is between $300 and $500 per treatment session. Considering the fact that other lasers require more sessions, you’re likely to pay less with PicoSure.
Is it Worth a Try?
There’s nothing worse than struggling to cover up an unsightly, embarrassing, or downright ugly ink on your body. Whether you went to a novice tattoo artist, succumbed to an at-home tattoo party (the horror!) or simply want to erase a part of your life that’s no longer relevant to you, laser tattoo removal is a smart option.
And when it comes to laser tattoo removal options, PicoSure is the current crème de la crème. It promises effective, thorough removal with less downtime and pain for less money. If you still aren’t sure whether PicoSure is the best option for you, stop by your local cosmetic clinic or laser specialist and request a free consultation.