I'm strongly considering getting a Picosure laser...
I'm strongly considering getting a Picosure laser tattoo removal. I have a few tattoos but I just feel like the artwork wasn't very well done on this particular one. I want to have it covered up but I spoke with a tattoo artist who advised lightening it first with laser removal.
I did my research and it seems as though the Picosure laser is the best on the market. I went for a consult the other day and the technician quoted me $200 per session. She also said it would take approximately 2-3 sessions to lighten it enough for a cover up.
What I'm most concerned about is the healing process. I am prepared for the pain of the procedure but the blistering sounds awful. I'm planning to get my first procedure done at the end of August. I have some time off work so it will allow me a full week to heal at home.
I was wondering if anyone has stories to share about this Picosure procedure. I'm especially interested in hearing about the healing process and the results. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
Picosure Tattoo Removal Process Started
23 Jan 2016
5 months post
I finally started my tattoo removal process. I'm only trying to lighten for a cover up - not going for full removal.
I went over Christmas holidays so I'd have some time off work. I went to Urban Laser in Sherwood Park, AB, Canada. The tech there, Kristiina Wood, was very helpful and knowledgeable throughout the entire process.
On the day of the treatment... I came in early and Kristiina applied numbing cream. Then I sat for about 40 mins while I got all numbed up. Right before the treatment she applied a cold ice pack to further numb the area. I had goggles on to protect my eyes and she gave me a stress ball to squeeze which I really appreciated.
Did it hurt? This was one of my questions before I went. In my experience, it didn't hurt much at all. My tattoo is on my back rib cage and when she was doing the black outline parts and when she got closer to my armpit it hurt more. But the pain was definitely bearable. I just powered through without stopping. The entire procedure was done in less than 10 minutes.
I've attached a before and after photo for you guys to look at. The results are 4 weeks after the treatment. I was told the ink would continue to break down for about 8 weeks so it may still fade a little more. I'm happy with the fading in the coloured areas. It seems as though the black lining and words didn't fade much though. I'm hoping to see better results after my next treatment.
I go for my second treatment in February. I'm hoping I'll only need 2-3 before I can get my coverup done.
23 Jan 2016
5 months post
I forgot to talk about my after care...
It was bandaged up immediately after. The next morning I took the bandage off and cleaned it with Cetaphil gentle cleanser. Then I used Aquaphor Healing Ointment on it for a week - applying about 4-5 times daily. I had very little blisters along the black lines and wording but they didn't hurt and resolved themselves within that first week. Prior to my treatment I was really nervous about the blistering so I was happy that I had minimal blistering. The second week I switched to Lubriderm unscented lotion 2-3 times a day. It's been 5 weeks now. The skin is entirely healed and smooth. No hyper pigmentation.
2nd PicoSure treatment
30 Apr 2016
8 months post
I went for my second Picosure treatment yesterday. The tech applied the numbing cream, followed by an ice pack, prior to the procedure to help with the pain. She also had a new cooling system this time which was basically a big hose that blows A/C cold air during the procedure. There were parts that I felt hardly anything at all and others that were pretty painful. Closer to the top of my tattoo was the most painful. She turned up the intensity this time too. The pain afterwards was far worse than the first time! It took a couple of hours to calm down and I used ice packs intermittently to help with the cooling. (Ice packs were not directly on the skin. The bandage and my shirt still covered the area but the ice pack helped. And I left it on for no more than 2 minutes at a time. On and off for about half an hour.) The blistering and redness the next day seems worse too. Here's what it looks like the morning after treatment #2.
After the first treatment I noticed a lot of the colour was gone. I'm hoping this one tackled the blacks lines a little more. I'm hoping this is my last one and that I can go for a cover-up when it's healed. I'm prepared to do a 3rd treatment though if I had to.
I went to clean it and apply more Aquaphor last night (1 day after the procedure) and noticed a couple blisters had gotten bigger. I had a feeling I might be blistered more this time as the intensity was turned up on the Picosure laser and I was in a lot more pain in the first couple of hours following the procedure. I ended up covering it with cotton, breathable gauze just to add a layer of protection to those blisters. I'm not going to pop them. I'm hoping they resolve within the next couple of days.
Blisters Gone in 3 days
My blisters deflated while I was cleaning my tattoo on the 3rd morning after my second treatment. I still covered it with Aquaphor and left bandages on for a full week following the removal just to protect the blistered areas. I'm now into the second week of healing and it's scabbing over nicely. I've been moisturizing with Lubriderm often. It still looks a little raw. It's hard to tell how much it lightened as it still has scabs. The black lines don't seem to be as light as I'd like but I'm hoping they lighten with time.
2 weeks into healing with some changes
12 May 2016
9 months post
The flowers seem less detailed and the branches seem lighter. The black lettering is broken up in some parts. The cross outline is too but it's very minimal. The original blue/gray shading seems darker now than after the first treatment. However, I'm hoping that's because it's still healing.
5 weeks after Picosure treatment #2
6 Jun 2016
10 months post
I think it has faded a little more over time? It's supposed to continue to fade for up to 12 weeks after the treatment.
I went to speak with my tattoo artist about the coverup. He recommended one more treatment to lighten it a little more. I was kind of hoping 2 would be enough just so I don't have to deal with the whole healing process but if I'm going through all of this I may as well make sure my coverup is the best quality it can be! So one more treatment it is!
It's summer time now which is not ideal for healing. So I'm going to wait until the end of September to do my 3rd and (hopefully) final Picosure treatment. Then I'll wait about 2-3 months to allow proper healing/fading before I go for my coverup.
One more comparison picture
6 Jun 2016
10 months post
I'm posting a lot more after this second treatment. After the second one, I found myself comparing the healing process from the first treatment and trying to remember what was "normal" for me. I decided the best way to do this was the document it better - for myself and for others who may be sharing the same experiences. Here's another comparison picture just to see the difference healing time can make. What do you guys think? Has it lightened more? I try to take the photos in the same place to get the same lighting. They're selfies and the tattoo is on my back so it's a tough angle to reach. Also, these little collages are made with an iPhone app called Moldiv. Thanks for following my tattoo removal journey! Happy lasering, friends. :)
21 Jun 2016
10 months post
Here's what I'm getting for a coverup. A bouquet of vintage style black & grey flowers.
Healing Time Helps
28 Jul 2016
11 months post
I think it's still fading! 3 months post treatment #2. What do you guys think? Any lighter than my last update?
Day after 3rd Picosure
I usually don't take photos before or during the treatment because I'm laying on my stomach and I'm focusing on breathing and squeezing the stress balls. This time I took a photo of the machine before the treatment though, in case anyone was wondering what the machine looks like.
This was my 3rd treatment. I left almost 7 months between treatments. It didn't hurt as much during or after this time. Although, I did ice it on/off when I got home for a couple hours. 3-5 mins on, 3-5 mins off.
So far it doesn't look at bad as last time. I'm not sure if that's good or not haha as I want to make sure my body responded well to it and that it actually works. The tech said it frosted up nicely and that she changed the settings so the laser would target larger areas and hopefully break up those black lines. (I emailed her for specifics - I'll share details about laser settings when she explains them to me again). It doesn't seem to be blistering as much this time but it's only day 1 so we shall see!
When this one heals up, I'm going to wait a few months and then go for my coverup. I'm hoping it's lightened enough by then and that I won't need any more laser treatments. :)
Day 3 after 3rd Pico
Super itchy. Red dots (pinpoint bleeding). Rash from gauze tape. Ditched the gauze last night and wore clean shirt over top. There are no open wounds so it should be fine.
Currently washing with Cetaphil & applying a thin layer of Aquaphor to help healing. I'll switch over to Lubriderm for day 7.
Feels exactly like a healing tattoo would feel. Super itchy. It's not red or hot so it's not infected (I don't think).
Fingers crossed for good results. C'mon white blood cells - do your job!
3 weeks after 3rd Picosure
What do you guys think - has it faded more?
I've been applying Lubriderm daily just to keep it moisturized. It healed fairly quickly this time. Perhaps because there were no blisters. My skin is back to normal. It's not raised at all and it's not super itchy anymore (that itchy phase only lasted a few days).
3 months after 2nd treatment to 3 weeks after 3rd treatment.
Maybe it's because it's still healing or maybe it's the lighting but it looks darker now?
I emailed my tattoo artist with a photo of my tattoo to see whether or not I'm ready for a coverup. His response was that the colours were faded enough for a coverup but that I should get one more treatment on the black lines to lighten them up more.
I've (reluctantly) scheduled my 4th Picosure treatment for the beginning of February. This will allow a full 3 months between my 3rd and 4th treatment.
Following my 4th and (hopefully) last Picosure treatment, I will wait 2 months to get my coverup. The laser tech said to wait a minimum of 6 weeks after the treatment before a coverup so I'll be good to go by the end of March.
This journey is taking longer than I expected. I am not a patient person but I want to do this right because I want the best quality cover up I can have.
Picosure Treatment #4
She used the larger spot size and boost intensity again this time. She said to expect the red super itchiness again. A friend came with me this time and go photos directly before, during and right after the treatment. You can see the frosting right after.
The Laser in Action
I had a friend with me this time so she took photos while the procedure was being completed. In case you wanted to know, this is what it looks like when the laser is treating the tattoo.
Morning after 4th Picosure Treatment
It's red with pinpoint bleeding. It's raised and itchy. No blisters yet.
The laser tech told me to put Polysporin on it for the first couple of days to relieve the itching. Usually I start with the Aquaphor but that itching was terrible last time so I'll follow the recommendation to start with Polysporin for a few days. After that I'll use Aquaphor for the remainder of the first week. Once it's healed I'll move on to an unscented lotion called Curel.
Fingers crossed that this is the absolute last treatment before my cover up!
3 Days After 4th Picosure
I used Polysporin three times per day for the first two days. It seemed to help tremendously with the itching! It's now the third day and I've switched Aquaphor. The gauze tape is really starting to irritate my skin so I'm going to try to leave it uncovered most of the day. I'm slightly fearful that the extreme itchiness I experienced after my third session will return but hopefully it's far along enough in the healing process by now. Each healing experience is slightly different so I'm not entirely sure what to expect.
This time so far...
...no blisters at all, skin was raised, red and angry looking with pinpoint bleeding, itchiness is present but not as intense as last time
Here's to speedy healing and lots of fading!
Laser Clinic Progress Photo
My laser tech posted my results on her clinic's business page. I think it shows some pretty good fading! Can't wait to see the results after this fourth treatment is fully healed. I went to my tattoo artist yesterday and he said it'll be light enough to cover up so I'm booked in for June! Which means I won't have to go another summer with this half-faded tattoo mess on my skin haha.
3.5 Weeks Post Session #4
It healed nicely! And my tattoo artist said it's now faded enough for a coverup! Yay! I'm going to allow a full 3 months for proper healing before the coverup. I'm so excited! I'll post pics of the coverup when it's done.
Comparison Picture - Done treatments!
Before any treatments to after 4 treatments with the picosure laser. The treatments were spread out over the span of a year an a half.