A PicoSure Experience: On the Cutting Edge - Part 3 by Rutledge Forney, MD


At 48 hours, we check in with our green lizard and Chinese character patients.  Both tattoos have been kept moist and covered.  Both tattoos exuded some pigment onto the dressings, bypassing the need for the body to slowly absorb and eliminate the extruded pigment.  This “tissue effect” is why it takes so long to eliminate tattoo ink.
Tattoo ink is inserted under the skin in large (to our skin) chunks.  Our body tries to eliminate the ink, as it would eliminate bacteria or a splinter, but the transport cells can only carry tiny pieces of the ink.  Think of tiny fish chewing on a coral reef.  Tattoos naturally fade over years because the transport cells are always working on them.  Lasers have helped by taking the huge chunks or boulders of ink and splitting them in half, then quarters, then into smaller and smaller "rocks" until the ink “dust” is small enough to be transported and eliminated.

The PicoSure laser speeds up the process by blowing up the boulders into much smaller chunks each treatment so ink dust is available to be transported from the first treatment.  With older technology, it is common to see no visible changes in a tattoo after 3 or 4 treatments over 6 months.  The chunks are smaller but not small enough to be transported away so the tattoo does not seem to change even after several treatments.

The intense energy generated by the PicoSure is responsible for the ink coming out of the skin onto the bandage while healing.  This “acoustic effect” is like a sound wave which moves the ink debris and enables some ink to leave the body directly.  Much quicker than waiting for the transport cells!!!!!

After two weeks, the lizard and Chinese character tattoos both show change related to both the “tissue effect” and the “acoustic effect”.  See below the original (left) and after two weeks (right) photos.

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Atlanta Dermatologic Surgeon