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When it comes to the world of aesthetic medicine, laser treatments have been one of the favourite go-to procedures for solving a lot of skin problems, hair removal, and spot fat reduction. One type of laser treatment that has been getting a lot of popularity recently is the “pico laser”. Pico lasers have been advertised as “faster, safer, and better” than traditional lasers and given the widespread use of laser treatments in general, several patients of mine have been curious about this great piece of technology.
But what exactly is a pico laser? Is there really any truth to the claim that it’s more effective for solving skin problems than traditional laser treatments? What exactly can a pico laser treatment do for you?
To answer these questions, here are 15things you need to know about pico laser treatment in Singapore!
1. The “pico” stands for a picosecond or 1/1000000000000 of a second
A picosecond laser, shortened as “pico laser”, is a type of laser that emits optical pulses at a speed of 1 pulse per 1 to 10 picoseconds. This means that each second, a pico laser emits 1 trillion optical pulses!
Because of its really fast speed, it belongs to a category of lasers called ultrafast lasers or ultrashort pulse lasers. It is an improved version of Q-switched nanosecond lasers, which emit 1 billion pulses per second.
2. Pico lasers have a greater advantage over traditional lasers
Compared to traditional lasers that use a single Q-Switched technology, picosecond lasers are distinctively different. Picosecond lasers can release laser energy at higher peaks and shorter pulse period, which results in more effective and safer treatment. That is why traditional lasers may require as twice the number of sessions to achieve similar results. In some cases, even after6 sessions, older technology lasers may not produce results at all. Think of all the money and time you must spend with traditional laser treatments.
In addition, if not performed by a well-trained professional, the traditional laser may cause side-effects such as hyperpigmentation, swelling and blisters. Developing these side-effects may require you to undergo more sessions to address the issue.
3. Pico lasers are guaranteed safe
Picosecond lasers are FDA-approved and therefore, they are certified safe. For additional safety, picosecond laser technology minimizes damage to the surrounding skin by controlling the amount of heat that is discharged into the target area, thus resulting in less downtime and zero to minimal side-effects.
4. Pico laser treatments can only be performed by a qualified doctor
In Singapore, only qualified doctors are permitted to treat medical concerns with the use of lasers. Be extra cautious and don’t be fooled by scams of getting pico laser services in beauty salons or spas that offer very low prices. These treatments are usually performed by a non-qualified individual. These salons and spas that offer pico laser services are doing it unlawfully and can be extremely unsafe.
5. Pico lasers are effective in treating skin pigmentation problems
One of the main selling points of picosecond lasers is their effectiveness in dealing with skin pigmentation issues such as melasma and solar lentigines.
Ultrafast lasers, in general, are great for targeting melanin (which causes the skin pigmentation) underneath the skin for two reasons:
- The high intensity of each pulse is strong enough to destroy the melanin pigmentation in the skin. Picosecond lasers are precisely calibrated to be able to deliver the right amount of energy to be able to shatter and destroy the melanin under the skin.
- Because pico lasers deliver pulses at ultrafast speeds, there is just enough time to destroy the melanin while keeping the surrounding tissue undamaged. A longer pulse would mean a bigger chance for a laser to damage the area around its target.
Since picosecond lasers are faster than traditional lasers, it is a safer and more effective solution for pigmentation removal.
6. Pico lasers are also great for tattoo removal
Ever regretted your decision of getting a tattoo when you were younger? Don’t worry because picosecond lasers exist and are very effective in removing tattoos. The science in skin pigmentation removal is very similar to tattoo removal and this makes picosecond lasers wonderful tools for the latter. The only difference is that instead of targeting the secreted melanin of melanocytes, a pico laser can target the tattoo ink under your skin.
7. A pico laser can also assist in treating wrinkles and scars
In treating wrinkles and scars, the usual laser treatment utilized is an ablative or non-ablative laser procedure. These laser treatments work by stimulating your skin to produce more collagen, thereby rejuvenating the skin and making it tighter and firmer.
A pico laser can be used in conjunction with these treatments to be able to reach a deeper area of skin, which can give better and more pleasing results compared to without the pico laser. When using pico lasers for treating scars and wrinkles, a higher intensity setting is used and may cause some redness to appear.
8. Pico lasers are often used in conjunction with nanosecond lasers for better results
The one advantage of nanosecond lasers over picosecond lasers is that they can target a larger area of skin in each pulse.
Thus, for larger pigment spots (such as a big solar lentigo) or tattoos a doctor can first use a nanosecond laser to dissolve the pigment or ink spots into smaller spots. Afterwards, a picosecond laser can be used to further dissolve these smaller spots into tinier pieces. This strategy can save both time and effort for the doctor performing the treatment.
9. The cost of pico laser treatments may vary
The cost of pico laser treatments in Singapore may range from $250 to $1,000 per session. These prices may vary from person to person depending on numerous factors including:
- The number of sessions (usually 4-6 sessions)
- The type of medical problem to be treated (e.g., pigmentation, tattoo removal, wrinkles or pimple scarring)
- The complexity of the medical concern and the procedure to be performed
- The patient's skin type (sensitive skin may require more treatment sessions)
- Doctor’s fee
- Follow-up check-ups and medications if you develop side-effects (though extremely rare)
Pico lasers are expensive for a reason. Picosecond laser technology is not only the newest advancement in the cosmetic world, but it is also one of the most effective cosmetic treatment available.
It is important to note that some clinics may charge hidden costs that are not discussed during your consultation period, so it is better to ask for a detailed calculation of your total treatment fee to avoid inconveniences in the future.
10. Pico lasers treatments have minimal discomfort
For pico laser treatments, minimal discomfort and heating sensation may be expected during the delivery of energy into the skin. The extent of discomfort really depends on the tolerance of each person.
As a tip, it is important that the patient informs the doctor if there is a feeling of discomfort, so he/she can try to address the issue and try minimizing it with available methods such as numbing cream, ice packs and anaesthetics.
After the procedure, patients may also feel some sort of discomfort, but nevertheless tolerable and will go away after a few hours.
11. Pico lasers also have minimal to zero downtime
Pico laser treatment is naturally non-invasive—meaning, there is no surgery needed therefore, patients can expect minimal downtime. Some patients even say that after each session, they can effortlessly proceed to their normal everyday routine without any experiencing any issues.
12. Minimal side-effects can be expected after pico laser treatments
Some patients report some minimal side-effects like dry skin and some hyperpigmentation after every treatment session but will soon disappear in a couple of days. With pico lasers, you do not have to worry about scarring because the risk is very low compared with conventional laser technologies.
For those who have undergone tattoo removal using pico lasers, some mild scabbing may be expected but will also go away after a few days. After pico laser treatment, make sure that you protect yourself from exposure to direct sunlight while recovering to prevent further complications.
13. Pico lasers can deliver satisfactory results
After the treatment, instant results can already be felt and after a few weeks, the effects will be more evident. After pico laser treatment, reduced wrinkles, smaller pores, lessened hollowness, lesser pigmentation and an overall tightening of the face can be expected. These effects of pico laser are long lasting and very effective.
For tattoo removal using pico lasers, 75 - 90% development in tattoo removal can be expected within4-6 sessions. Compared to pico lasers, other traditional laser machines such as Q-switched lasers or unlawfully used laser machines used in salons and spas may require twice as many sessions to achieve the same results.
For patients with acne scars, an average of 70 – 80% improvement can be expected after the treatment. The number of sessions will depend on different factors such as the severity of the scaring, the size of the treatment area and the patient’s responsiveness to the treatment. The optimum result can be achieved over a period of 2-3 months to give time to produce new collagen.
14. There are many brands of pico lasers in Singapore
In Singapore, there are several existing brands of Pico laser technology that are offered by different clinics. However, not all these brands deliver the same level of treatments. As a result of continuing advancements in technology and medical research, newer generations of picosecond lasers are now emerging.
Due to the highly technical differences between different brands of pico lasers, it can be very difficult to decide which one to choose. The best way to ensure that you are getting the correct pico laser technology for you is to discuss it with your doctor. During your consultation, you can ask your doctor about the type of brand he/she is using and what are the wavelengths available for the machine.
Usually, different brands can offer specific treatments (i.e., pigmentation treatments). Also, a picosecond laser that can produce more wavelengths will be able to treat a wider range of medical concerns.
It is also important to note if there have been published medical researches and trials with the specific brand, so you can have a better understanding of its quality and effectiveness.
15. There are numerous clinics in Singapore that offer a wide range of pico laser treatments
Before committing to doctor and clinic, remember to do your research, read reviews online, check for the doctor’s qualifications and related trainings, the type of treatments offered, the type of machine to be used and ask for opinion from other people who have tried the treatments before, so you can have an informed decision.
Keep in mind that pico laser treatments are medical procedures and require utmost care by a qualified medical professional — so it is important to choose a doctor you can trust.