Up until now, lasers haven't been very effective at removing tattoos.
Some mistakes-like that rainbow and pot of gold tattoo that seemed so genius and so necessary when you stumbled into the tattoo parlor on St. Patrick's Day-are a little hard to forget. After all, you (along with the rest of the world) can see it every time you wear a sleeveless shirt. It's like you should have just gotten "drunk" tattooed on your forehead-or maybe you actually did.
Now there's a way to reverse that poor decision. A new laser system developed by Cynosure, called PicoSure, is the first safe and effective picosecond aesthetic laser to be FDA-cleared and approved for commercialization to remove both tattoos and benign pigmented lesions. And you can expect it to show up very soon in aesthetic dermatologist and plastic surgeon offices.
So how does this laser remove tattoos better than other lasers out there? Cynosure president and CEO Michael Davin explains: "PicoSure accomplishes this by delivering short-pulse bursts of energy to the skin in trillionths of a second." Current laser technology moves in nanoseconds (billionths of a second).
The shorter, faster pulses erase pigment more efficiently, and according to a study by Roy Geronemus, M.D., director of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, 22 subjects who underwent PicoSure treatment over a two-week period saw over 80 percent tattoo clearance. Blue and green ink specifically was erased by a whopping 94 percent.
"Our study shows that picosecond technology more effectively targets blue and green pigment, which is typically difficult to remove," says Geronemus. "In addition, PicoSure more rapidly lightens other colors, with improved recovery time due to less collateral injury to the surrounding tissue." Which ultimately means that more ink is removed and less scarring is left behind.
Data shows that of the 45 million Americans with at least one tattoo, an estimated 20 percent want it gone. (As brilliantly parodied in the SNL fake commercial for Turlington's Lower Back Tattoo Removal.) Now, instead of living with their regrets or heading back to the tattoo parlor to turn their ink into something more bearable, they can erase it almost completely.
This innovation is so groundbreaking since tattoos are generally very stubborn and take tons of sessions to remove, which typically result in a shoddy job and a big old scar that might make you wish you just kept the stupid thing there-even if it was the blue Power Ranger's mask, a unicorn or an ex-boyfriend's name.