PicoSure Photomechanical Versus Q-switched Photothermal

The technology behind medical lasers is incredible and the PicoSure laser for tattoo removal is no exception.  It was the first compact medical picosecond laser to be developed.  Researchers had known for quite some time that Q-switched nanosecond lasers fired too slowly to produce an effective PressureWave that could break up tattoo ink.  What’s more, standard Q-switched lasers are likely to cause collateral tissue damage, burns and scarring, when employed for tattoo removal in resistant, tough or colored inks like blue and green.  You may know this personally if you’re still living with a scarred-up blue or green tattoo remnant.  The answer was to build a laser that could target colors and fire a pulse in a trillionth (pico) of a second.  The result was Cynosure’s PicoSure laser and it has more than lived up to expectations.  It’s the only laser that I use for tattoo removal because of its superior clinical results and several of my patients before and after images have been featured in Cynosure ads and instructional materials.

Recently, the manufacturer of the PicoSure laser released a software upgrade called Boost which shortens the pulse duration even more.  This makes the laser fire faster which results in an increase in the PressureWave of up to 70%.  In my experience, Boost has improved the performance of what was already the best laser available for tattoo removal.  I have treated many recalcitrant tattoos with Boost and the patients are pleasantly surprised at how effective the laser is at removing residual ink in tattoos that had previously been treated elsewhere 10 times or more.

Photomechanical Austin PicoSure Laser Tattoo Removal

There are two different mechanisms at work here (1) photothermal and (2) photomechanical (see image above).  Photothermal is the process of heating ink particles and photomechanical is the effect of the PressureWave literally breaking the pigments apart in to the smallest of sizes which can be easily carried away by the body.  The lasting effects on the skin are minimal whereas the tattoo itself is permanently destroyed and removed.

Besides the Boost upgrade, there have been other revolutionary upgrades to the PicoSure laser since its release in April 2013.  Advancements include the 532nm handpiece for red, yellow and orange tattoo inks plus a detachable Focus Lens Array for pigmentation removal and tissue and scar rejuvenation as well as others pending FDA clearance.  As always, I’ll try my best to keep you up to date on further developments. Meanwhile, if you have a tattoo you want faded for a cover up or safely, effectively and completely removed I can be reached  by phone @ 512-479-9997  or just stop by my NEW location in Austin, TX:  Austin Medspa on W. 6th St.


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