Picoway tattoo removal questions and answers to educate yourself before your free consult.
What is the PicoWay advantage?
The PicoWay is a remarkably innovative triple-wave picosecond laser from Syneron Candela. The triple wavelength allows for treatment of all tattoo colours and types, including recalcitrant tattoos on any skin type. The picosecond pulse on the PicoWay is one trillionth of a second, which is 1000 times faster than the nanosecond pulse. When combined with its high power peak, the laser energy is delivered so rapidly that even the smallest pigment fragments will shatter, allowing the body to remove the particles much faster than nanosecond technology. With PicoWay technology, tattoos are affected by not only selective photothermolysis, but also subsequent photo-acoustic shock-waves that result in caviation of the smallest ink particles, promoting phagocytosis, the body’s natural elimination process.
What is the difference between photo-acoustic vs. photo-thermal?
With photo-acoustic, the laser energy is delivered so rapidly that even the smallest pigment fragments will shatter. For photo-thermal, the laser energy is delivered more slowly so that only the larger pigment fragments will shatter. Nanosecond lasers have proportionally more photo-thermal action, which heats the pigment and the surrounding tissue. The PicoWay’s picosecond technology delivers photo-acoustic peak power and shatters the ink pigment with the little photo-thermal effect – thus ensuring that the surrounding tissue does not receive any heat. Q-switched lasers use nanosecond technology delivering photo-thermal, and a small amount of photo-acoustic, energy. The surrounding tissue is traumatized with the ink pigment being slowly heated and broken down. The skin needs more time to heal between treatments and the ink particles need more treatments to break down.
Am I a candidate for tattoo removal?
The PicoWay can remove tattoos on Fitzpatrick skin types I through VI. We recommend coming in for a consult so that we may educate you on tattoo removal and what type of results you can expect. During the consult we will have a look at your tattoo, skin type, pricing, and discuss other factors that we take into account before treatment. From there, if you decide you would like to proceed with the treatment, we will do a mandatory patch test on your tattoo to ensure that there are no adverse reactions from the tattoo removal and there is a positive healing process. If you would like to know an estimated price of your tattoo removal prior to booking a consult, you can e-mail us a photo of the tattoo to be removed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does laser tattoo removal hurt?
Every individual has a different threshold for pain. Like getting a tattoo, it also depends on the area being treated. The pain, however, is less than that of getting the tattoo, and the treatment time is quicker. For anyone requiring pain control, a tube of Zensa Topical Anaesthetic can be purchased at our lounge for a fee of $45 +gst prior to their appointment. A client can also be numbed at our lounge by our tattoo removal specialist for 30 minutes at a fee of $25 +gst. Pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen that thin blood and promote bruising are not recommended.
Are there any side effects?
Blisters may occur after treatment but, when treated properly, will not have any long-term effects. Occasionally, hypopigmentation (whitening of the skin) may occur, but normal skin tone should return 6-12 months after your last treatment. There are minimal chances of scarring after treatment, and long-term side effects are rare.
What will my skin look like after treatment?
Immediately after your treatment, the treated area will have a white discolouration (white frosted crust). Redness and swelling will also occur. This is normal and will disappear slowly over time. Some blistering may occur as this is the body’s natural healing process, but this is rare. Gauze and ointment will be applied at the end of the treatment to protect the area from infection.
How long does each treatment take?
Treatments are usually completed in a few minutes. Factors contributing to treatment time are size and colour of the tattoo being removed. Most tattoos require several sessions to remove, with spacing of 8 to 10 weeks in between each session.
How does a laser remove a tattoo?
Lasers work by producing short pulses of intense light that penetrate the top layers of the skin (1 to 3 mm). The laser energy is selectively absorbed by the tattoo pigments, causing the pigments to fragment without damaging the surrounding skin. The shattered ink pigments are then attacked by the body’s immune system and naturally cleared. Several sessions are needed for tattoo clearance depending on the depth and quality of ink. (This procedure is bloodless.)
How many treatments are required?
With the Syneron Candela PicoWay laser system, clearance is achieved between 6 to 8 sessions.
What are factors contributing to successful tattoo clearance?
- Individual’s immune system: How well your body will get rid of the tattoo ink and your body’s ability to heal.
- Type of tattoo: Professional, amateur, cosmetic, traumatic or medical. Professional tattoos require more treatments because the ink quality is higher and the ink is deposited deeper in the dermal layer.
- Type of ink: Varying compounds make up tattoo ink. Amateur tattoo inks are of less quality of ink than professional. Granule sizes differ for every colour pigment.
- Skin type: Type I to Type VI on the Fitzpatrick scale.
- Location: Effectiveness of the body’s immune system to attack the fractured tattoo pigments depends on the location of the tattoo. The larger the vascular supply, the more effective elimination will be and the less treatments needed for clearance (head/neck). Areas with decreased vascular supply means a weaker immune system (hands/feet) and may require more treatments.
- Scarring and tissue changes: If scarring happened during the tattoo process, the ink may be encapsulated. Therefore, the effectiveness of tattoo clearance may not be as great. If there is clearance, the scar from the initial tattoo will remain.
- Cover-ups: When tattoo artists do cover-ups, they must layer darker ink and use more ink to hide the unwanted tattoo. This results in more treatments needed for clearance.
- Age: Older tattoos are more faded, causing less absorbance of the laser wavelength.
What kinds of tattoos can you treat?
With PicoWay, we can treat professional, amateur, cosmetic, traumatic, and medical tattoos of all colours.
Can I remove only one part of my tattoo?
Yes, the PicoWay has adjustable spot sizes (2 to 10 mm) to precisely remove only certain parts of your tattoo.
How soon after treatment can I tattoo over the area I just removed?
Some of our clients want their tattoo removal end result to be faded to a certain percentage, and others want total clearance, depending on what the plan is for their new tattoo. You should wait until the skin is completely healed from the removal before tattooing over the same area. We recommend waiting at least 3 months.
I just had a tattoo done that I want removed, how long should I wait?
Before you come in for your first treatment, we recommend waiting 3 months after getting your tattoo to allow your skin to heal and your immune system to return to normal.
What conditions prevent me from qualifying for laser tattoo removal?
- You cannot be treated if you have recently-tanned skin. You must avoid the sun or tanning beds for 30 days prior to treatment. If you fail to avoid the sun, blisters and hypopigmentation/hyperpigmentation may occur. You must also avoid direct sun exposure for another month after treatment.
- Accutane therapy must be stopped 6 months prior.
- Fake tans must be stopped 2 weeks prior.
- History of photosensitivity to infared light
- Acne breakout or infected areas cannot be treated
- Seizure disorders
- Photsensitizing medications must be stopped 3-5 days prior.
- Medications and suppliments: Iron supplements, anti-coagulation therapy, herbal supplements (i.e. ginkgo, ginsenf, garlic, fish oil) may cause bruising more readily.
- Topical medications and skin care products (acids, glysolics, retinoids, AHA, BHA) must be discontinued 72 hours pre- and post-treatment.
- Poorly-controlled medical conditions: Must be evaluated by a healthcare provider for medical clearance prior to treatment.
- Active skin infections: open wounds or skin that is infected cannot be treated.
- Keloid scarring: Test patch to see if ink clearance is possible.
- HSV 1 & 2: Cannot treat if active lesion(s) are present within the treatment area. Clients with history should begin prophylaxis prior to treatment as prescribed by their healthcare provider.
- Implanted medical devices: consult healthcare provider before treatment if you have a pacemaker, cardioverters and other implantable devices or fillers.