Pico laser technology uses light pulses compared to traditional laser treatments that tend to use heat. Pico means ‘one trillionth’ – imagine flicking a light switch off and on one trillion times within a second! That’s exactly what a picosecond means, which is the amount of light energy which enters the skin within a second. As the light ‘flicks’ off and on (light pulses) one trillion times within a second, it’s like a bunch of waves on the ocean cresting up and crashing down again. When the waves crash onto the shore, it creates shapes within the sand and can even break up dead pieces of coral into more sand particles. This is similar to what happens in the skin as well.
The picosecond pulses enter the skin and create a photomechanical impact known as a ‘pressure wave’. These pressure waves target areas in the skin (e.g. tattoo pigments or hyperpigmentations and scarring), which ‘squeezes’ those cells and causes them to shatter into fine particles. These particles are then eliminated by the body’s own immune system who employ macrophages (think of them like the white knights of your body whose duty is to pick up on the presence of intruders and throw them out) to clear them off naturally.
The PicoCare laser is pretty unique due to the fact that it can be used to treat completely unrelated purposes: 1) Resurfacing of skin over the face, neck, chest, or hands for the purposes of treating texture, scarring, pigmentation, or fine lines, and 2) Tattoo removal which can be done over nearly every part of the body where there is a permanent tattoo. The experience for the procedures of these two purposes can be quite different in terms of the number of sessions needed, number of pulses used, and also in the intensity of the body’s response to treatment. We’ll go over those things today, as we cover:
- PicoCare laser treatments for fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, scarring, and tattoo removal,
- How quickly you’ll be expecting to see results,
- How long results last,
- Whether results are permanent, and
- How frequently you should be planning your sessions!
We’ll also talk about some PicoCare laser side effects you might experience after the treatment session if you’re using it for different purposes, so read on to find out more.
Pico Laser Treatments For:
Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Pico laser treatments in Singapore can eliminate more than just pigments in the skin. As the laser pulses hit our skin layers, it also stimulates our skin cells to start healing again. Our skin has a natural tone to it. In areas where we say that our skin or muscles are toned, we can pinch up those tissues between our thumb and forefinger and our skin and muscle ‘snaps back’ to its initial position when we let go. If our skin isn’t toned, it might take a second or longer for our tissues to return to their initial position – that’s when we call our skin saggy, ‘crepey’, or has lost its tone. Other than doing exercises to build up muscle to regain back our tone, skin can also regain some of its tone through this natural healing response of our body to pico laser treatments.
Since Pico laser treatments are non-ablative, meaning that they do not cause physical injury to the outermost skin’s surface (the stratum corneum), the lasers enter into the deeper layers of the epidermis and dermis according to the laser’s wavelength. This non-ablative laser exposure into the skin has been shown to result in the accumulation of microscopic epidermal necrotic debris (tiny, tiny, tiny dead skin cells) below the stratum corneum. What this means is that the formation of ‘dead’ skin cells in the skin layers caused by the laser helps to eliminate damage in the epidermal layer and facilitate regeneration by the rapid movement of the surrounding healthy skin cells (keratinocytes). Microscopical and histological studies which look at skin cells after they have undergone non-ablative laser therapy show that the skin’s epidermis begins to re-epithelialize (become restored with new cells) after 3 days, dead skin cells has been completely exfoliated after 7 days, and new collagen regeneration has begun until 3 months after non-ablative laser treatment.
What this means is also that the skin surface will have begun to show healing after 7 days, but the stimulation of collagen regeneration will continue well up to 3 months after treatment! This helps to restore brighter and more radiant looking skin, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles as our skin texture and collagen content improves.
→ Number of PicoCare treatment sessions: If you are not experiencing severe deep wrinkling, the Pico laser in Singapore can help fine lines and mild wrinkles within 2 to 3 treatment sessions to soften their appearance. If you have deeper wrinkles and sagging skin that need to be sorted out, treatments can be combined with other treatments such as Botox or face fillers.
PicoCare laser treatment works well for removal of skin pigmentation as the laser targets pigments in the skin. Pigments or spots of melanin in the skin are formed by melanocytes which can be triggered by things such as sun exposure or hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause. When the topmost layer of skin is exposed to something which may cause damage such as UV rays, the melanocytes transfer melanosomes (little star-shaped cells that produce and store melanin) to the cells in the top skin layer where they form the melanin caps that reduce UV-induced DNA damage.
The PicoCare laser helps to target those melanin caps which cause the hyperpigmentation, and break down the skin discoloration into tiny particles, oftentimes smaller than most other lasers. The smaller the pigment particles, the faster they can be cleared off as well and results can be seen after a few sessions. Dark and dull spots will gradually fade away as the pigments are cleared off.
→ Number of PicoCare treatment sessions: Pigmentation caused by sun damage, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (like spots after pimples or wounds have healed), melasma, freckles, and other skin discolorations may require 3 or 4 treatments to help fade them noticeably. Pigmentation which covers a larger area of skin or is quite severe may need more sessions.
Acne scarring can be a cause of frustration, especially atrophic acne scarring which can look like pits or depressions in the skin. The PicoCare laser works in the same way for fine lines and wrinkles as for scarring – incurring your body’s natural healing response to stimulate collagen production which helps to repair and remodel the skin. A study showed 6 picosecond laser treatment sessions in those experiencing acne scarring gave satisfactory to extremely satisfactory results after 3 months; a 3-dimensional analysis revealed an average of 24.3% improvement in scar volume which were maintained 3 months after treatment and histological analysis of skin tissue also showed elongation and increased density of elastic fibers and dermal collagen! The PicoCare laser side effects of pain were only graded at an average of 2.83 out of 10, making it low on the pain scale.
→ Number of PicoCare treatment sessions: Acne scarring or scarring from injuries can be treated with extra pulses which may cause some redness in the skin. It is impossible to remove or erase 100% of scarring, but appearances can be greatly improved with an average of 4-6 sessions depending on the severity.
PicoCare laser treatment was actually first used for tattoo removal treatments because it was found that the picosecond lasers were more effective at clearing away darker pigments than normal lasers on the market. As the technology advanced, picosecond lasers were then refined for flaws on the skin. For some patients, the feeling of laser tattoo removal can be similar to how it feels when getting a tattoo, but over in a faster amount of time. Immediately after treatment, there may be some transient whitening or ‘frosting’ around the skin but will go off on its own once treatment is completed. Picosecond technology has been found to have good epidermal effect with rapid healing on coloured tattoo pigments, and a systematic review of picosecond lasers on tattoo removal showed that 69-100% of tattoos had over 70% pigment clearance after 1-10 laser treatments in humans.
→ Number of PicoCare treatment sessions: Depending on the ink type, colour, size of the tattoo, location on the body, the number of laser treatments needed will vary. Typically for smaller tattoos, 3-5 treatment sessions may be enough, but larger tattoos may need more sessions.
How Quickly Can You See Results?
The results for Pico laser treatment in Singapore will not be immediate, and usually appear gradually for the next few weeks after treatment. That is why we usually have some time given in between treatments to allow for your skin to heal and regenerate. For most patients, visible results can be seen 2-3 weeks after the first session and will continue to improve until all treatment sessions are completed. It also depends on your age, skin condition, and skin cell turnover cycle.
Age and Skin Condition
Asian skin such as the skin types that we see in Singapore have certain characteristics with laser treatment. The dermis in Asian skin tends to be thicker and more fibrous, which may account for a substantially lower incidence of fine wrinkles in East Asians compared to Caucasian skin. Hence, the main concern of Asian skin can usually be ‘wide pores’ and laser resurfacing using a picosecond laser can help these ‘wide pores’ or atrophic acne scarring that can be more prominent in Asian skin.
Mature skin also may take more time to see visible results, since ageing skin has had more time to decrease in collagen and elastin content. The regeneration process of collagen and elastin in the skin after the laser treatment may need more time and more sessions to stimulate enough for effects to be seen. This also means that younger patients who already have a greater baseline of more abundant collagen/elastin resources will be able to see results faster than those with mature skin.
Skin conditions which are heavily scarred or have deep wrinkles may also take more time to see results, for the same reasons of needing more time for collagen regeneration. Since the PicoCare laser cannot completely erase scar tissue, you may also need to consider other treatment options to supplement your care such as Botox or face fillers.
→ All these factors can mean that it may take 3-4 weeks and more sessions to start seeing visible results compared to the general 2-3 weeks rule.
Skin Cell Turnover Cycle
Your skin cell turnover cycle also influences how quickly you start to see results. Although old skin cells start to shed off by the 2 week mark, it can take anywhere from 28 days to 40 days to fully shed off all the old cells and have a new set of skin! As long as you’re waiting for new healthy skin cells to slowly rise up to the top level of your skin, you may not yet see the results you want. Similarly, those with more mature or ageing skin may have long skin cell turnover cycles and those with more scar tissue can require more time for the surrounding skin cells to regenerate.
How Long Do Results Last?
You can typically enjoy the results of your laser treatment for at least 6 months with the appropriate skincare routine. After your final recommended treatment session, space out your maintenance sessions appropriately depending on your needs for good results!
Can Results Be Permanent?
Yes! Results for scarring and tattoo removal are often permanent as old scar tissue and pigments do not come back once they are broken up and removed. For ageing concerns, results may not be entirely permanent since we cannot stop the ageing process. Over time, fine lines, sun spots, and wrinkles may appear again and require further skin rejuvenation.
How Frequently Should You Have Treatment?
This will depend on how long you see your results lasting. For acne scarring and tattoo removal, once the desired results are achieved there is usually no need for follow-up sessions. If you are treating fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation, it would depend on your skin condition and ageing process as well as lifestyle factors. When ageing happens, old cells can clutter your system which can contribute to signs of dryness and ageing. For some, a maintenance monthly session works, and some only need them every 2-3 months.
Your trusted skin care doctor is well-equipped to provide you with advice on how often you may need to come in for sessions, as well as how long until you may need a maintenance session, since pico laser price in Singapore ranges depending on the area and number of treatment sessions. If you are worried about any PicoCare laser side effects, book an appointment today to have all your questions answered at SL Aesthetic Clinic!