Dr. Gaston Dumais, M.D. Dermatologist - a.b.l.s., l.m.c.c., c.r.s.c., c.s.p.q., f.r.c.p. (c) - Diplomate of the American Board of Laser Surgery (1986)
  • LASER TREATMENTS

PICOWAY® Tattoo Removal

How Is It Possible to Eliminate Them?

If you have a tattoo that no longer harmonizes to your current lifestyle we now have an efficient exit door to eliminate it.

PICOWAY® is a NEW laser treatment from Syneron-Candela: a picosecond laser system for the elimination of tattoos. PicoWay’s unique mode of action is based on delivering ultra-short picosecond pulses of energy to the tissues. These bursts of energy create a photo-mechanical impact which shatters the tattoo ink into smaller particles that are more easily eliminated by your bodily phagocytic cells. It allows us to reduce the number of treatment sessions necessary by comparison to the traditional lasers used up to now.

The PicoWay system consists of an alexandrite laser head with a picosecond Nd:YAG Laser Deck. The 532nm and 1064nm wavelengths have been carefully selected and the laser pulse duration being well controlled, the treatment of tattoos can be performed with minimal energetic densities, reducing the possibility of adverse effects to normal surrounding tissues.

What makes tattoos so difficult to remove?

DEPTH: Ink is injected into the dermis, below the skin, where it’s harder to remove.

INK PARTICLE SIZE: The bigger the ink particle size, the harder it is to remove a tattoo. Traditional laser tattoo removal can be used to break up ink particles making them easier for the body to carry away, but sometimes the remaining ink particles are still too large, even after multiple laser treatments.

COLOR: While dark blues, blacks and red are easy to treat, other colors such as oranges, purples and yellows can be more difficult to remove.

SKIN TONE: With most lasers, darker skin tones are harder to treat because too much energy can be absorbed into the skin rather than the targeted ink particles. Not only does this weaken the results, it also increases the risk of injury.

How does laser therapy work?

A short pulse of intense red light emitted by a laser PicoWay is selectively absorbed by the tattoo ink localized in the dermal skin. This laser energy causes the tattoo ink to fragment into smaller pigment particles that are removed by your body's immune system. Dark tattoos can have larger ink masses and may require several sessions of treatment to break the ink into small enough particles for the body to dispose of. One will note that the tattoo gradually fades from one session of treatment to the other.

What results may I expect?

An amateur tattoo contains less ink than a professional tattoo and is habitually made of ordinary black or blue ink. So it will generally be easier to remove.

Does it hurt?

The laser pulse feels like a rubber band snapping against your skin. Each pulse treats an area approximately the size of a pencil eraser. If your tattoo is very large, you may elect to apply a topical anesthesia cream (EMLA or MAXILENE) which you will apply at least one hour before a session of treatment, with a Saran Wrap occlusive dressing or choose a local Xylocaïne infiltration which will be administered by us at the time of the session of treatment, however the latter is rarely necessary.

Are there any side effects?

Your skin's natural pigment, melanin, also absorbs the laser energy, so in people with darker skin the area treated by the laser may become lighter then the surrounding skin for a period of a few months. Melanin eventually repopulates this area restoring the skin to its original color, but once the tattoo ink is gone, it will not return. In any patient, a temporary increase in pigmentation (browning) can occur, particularly, if the treated area is not protected from the sun. It is more likely to happen in individuals with darker skin that tan easily.

Is it safe?

Because the laser beam selected for your treatment according to your type of skin and the color of your tattoo is mostly absorbed by the tattoo ink and very little by the normal skin structures, consequently the surrounding skin is not affected by the treatment: epidermal and dermal cells are not destroyed and stay viable. The risk of permanent scarring is estimated to be less than 2% in published studies and is usually observed as a loss of some pigmentation or a change in the texture of the skin.

What happens after the treatment?

Immediately after laser exposure the treated area turns white and swells slightly. This whiteness usually fades within twenty minutes. Punctate bleeding can also appear. Over the next several days, blisters may form and then a scab or a thin crust can follow. (Often the scab is the same color as the tattoo, because the superficial tattoo ink has been eliminated into the scab). The skin usually returns to normal in about 7 to 10 days.

How many treatment sessions will I require?

This will depend on the size of your tattoo as well as its age, location, depth, type of ink and color. One must take into consideration that the exact number of sessions of treatment necessary to remove any given tattoo is therefore impossible to predict. But with PicoWay not only fewer treatment sessions are generally necessary, as few as 5 to 6 sessions compared with up to 15 to 20 with conventional lasers, but also more effective in removing certain colors such as purples, greens, yellows and light blues. These sessions should be spaced 8 weeks apart to allow your natural immune system to remove the maximum amount of ink particles. You will continue to see fading of the tattoo in between treatment sessions as the ink is gradually eliminated by your body.

Will the tattoo completely disappear?

Yes in most cases. Greater than 95% of the tattoo may be eliminated.. However, it is very important to know that over 100 multi-colored tattoo inks are in use today. Not knowing what type of tattoo ink, how deep or how much ink has been put in, makes it impossible for a physician to predict the exact percentage of removal on any given tattoo.

How much will it cost?

The cost to remove a tattoo depends on the number of treatment sessions required. The number of sessions required depends on the age, size, location, depth, color and type of ink of your tattoo. The cost of treatment shall be discussed with the physician at the time of the initial consultation.