People with pigmentation woes understand that pigments are skin troubles that persist, no matter how thorough one’s skincare regime, and matter how expensive our skincare products are. Pigments are almost like unfortunate scars, parts on our skin that we wish we could make disappear immediately and forever. Yet pigmentation treatments often give modest results at best, and under the wrong hands, they can even worsen. So for the pigment-burdened or those with tattoo regret, should you resign to your fate and learn to live with it? Probably not! Skin lasers are one of the most researched treatments for pigmentation woes such as melasma and tattoo removal. We speak to Dr Chua Han Boon, a Senior Consultant at the SW1 Clinic about the latest pigment and tattoo removal laser in town, and why this laser is now the best pigment and tattoo removal in town.
The Misconception About Lasers
There is a common misconception that lasers thin the skin, damaging the skin’s melanocytes and leaving patches of skin white. Dr Chua explains that this is a complication of overdoing laser treatments, too frequently, or too strong. Fortunately, today’s lasers are much gentler on the skin, stimulating collagen rather than stripping skin off the surface (that’s what older ablative lasers did). The laser beam is delivered in various wavelengths and can be used to effectively target spots which reside in superficial or deeper layers of the skin. Lasers which use light also selectively target darker pigmentation, leaving surrounding normal skin spared. “These lasers which selectively target pigment particules are commonly the Q-switched Nd:YAG lasers such as the Revlite, the Alexandrite or the Ruby lasers, all of which markedly diminish pigmentation after one or several treatments, if the correct settings are used”, says Dr Chua.
Which Laser Is Safe For Asian Skin Types?
How does a laser beam remove pigmentation? According to Dr Chua, when the laser beam is fired into the tattoo, the ink pigments are broken up into small fragments, like a mini explosion under the skin. These fragments are then removed gradually by one’s own body.
Darker asian types are definitely more challenging to treat, according to Dr Chua, because they are more prone to complications such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) i.e. worsening of pigmentation. Low energy settings have been proposed for the nanosecond Revlite Nd:Yag lasers (known as laser toning) and while these have shown promising results, PIH has occurred and more recently, mass market chains promoting overly frequent treatments has caused selective damage to normal melanocytes, resulting in patches of normal skin losing their normal pigments permanently. Dr Chua explains that this has caused some doctors to look into other laser treatments that can more effectively and safely treat pigmentation problems. Removal of uncomplicated black tattoos have also traditionally used the nanosecond Q-switched Nd:YAG laser but this laser is not as effective for multi-coloured tattoos and pain is also a limiting factor.
Latest Generation Picosecond Pigment Lasers and Why You Should Try Them
The SW1 Clinic has not one, but two picosecond lasers, that’s an indication of how much they are willing to invest in this technology, and how popular this treatment is. For those who don’t quite understand, a nanosecond is one billionth of a second, that sounds fast, doesn’t it? But wait, a picosecond is one trillionth of a second. Picosecond lasers can generate very high tensile stress to shatter pigments under the skin, at very low energy settings with very minimal heat. For tattoos, this means that it is much more effective, less painful (thank goodness!) and less sessions are required compared to its nanosecond predecessor, Revlite.
Our Verdict? Try It
The Picosecond Laser sounds much more effective since it pulverizes pigments to a fine dust, rather than fragments. It’s ultra short pulses means it has a much better safety profile. Tattoo regrets, look no further. For the pigment-burdened, there is probably no safer laser treatment compared to this currently. A final advice, find a good doctor!
Dr Chua Han Boon has more than 10 years of experience in Medical Aesthetics. He was one of the pioneering doctors from The Sloane Clinic. He is now working at the SW1 Clinic, along with founders Dr Kenneth Lee, Dr Low Chai Ling, and other experienced medical aesthetics consultants Dr Michelle Lim and Dr Toby Hui.