What is PicoWay ®?
The PicoWay ® picosecond laser is the latest laser technology for treating pigmented lesions such as tattoos, freckles, liver spots (age spots on the hands and face), moles, hyperpigmentation and for treating photoaging and acne scarring!
With very specific wavelengths of light, this laser is able to break down pigment and stimulate skin remodelling while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. We have had many lasers over the years. PicoWay ® is definitely a massive improvement over our previous lasers. We are more impressed with this laser than any other new laser we have tried in the last 10 years! Here is one of our patients after one treatment with Picoway for a large liver spot. Although not all patients will respond this quickly with only one treatment, Dr. Nakatsui is absolutely certain that this laser is a huge improvement over our previous pigment lasers!
How does PicoWay ® work?
Picoway ® is one of the latest generation of picosecond lasers, which uses an ultra-short pulse duration to deliver its energy. This energy is transferred in trillionths of a second! The benefit of this ultra-short pulse duration is that because the duration of each pulse is so short, it creates far less heat than previous lasers. It also creates what is known as a photo-acoustic effect. This is like a sonic boom just below the surface of the skin. It allows us to break up pigment particles more effectively, as well as stimulate skin remodelling.
The PicoWay ® system does two things really well. The first is that it very effectively targets pigment. Imagine a large boulder of pigment sitting in your skin. The PicoWay ® laser will use laser light at a very specific wavelength that is known to break apart pigment. The pigment in the boulder absorbs the energy and because there is so much energy from the laser, the boulder shatters and breaks apart.
PicoWay ® delivers picosecond (trillionths of a second) energy pulses. This allows us to deliver energy in a way that was never possible before and allows us to more effectively treat pigmented areas while simultaneously transferring the least amount of heat energy to the surrounding skin.
Older laser systems use the same general methodology, but the biggest difference is that older systems will break the boulder into rocks while PicoWay ® will break the boulder into sand. Because these particles are much smaller, your body has an easier time eliminating them. This will ultimately provide a better end result in fewer sessions!
The second thing PicoWay ® does is it has a thermo-acoustic effect. This is a phenomenon that we could not achieve with previous technology and it is exciting because we can now stimulate collagen synthesis and skin remodelling without the laser breaking the skin. This effect creates a sonic-boom beneath the surface of the skin, which creates areas of Laser Induced Optical Breakdown (LIOBs). This stimulates collagen synthesis and skin remodelling. We use this effect to treat photo-aging and acne scarring.
Does it hurt?
The amount of discomfort will vary with each individual and will depend on the type of procedure and also the location of the treatment. Overall, the treatment is very tolerable and does not require any analgesia. The treatment stings a little bit but is generally very well tolerated. However, with difficult, larger tattoos. we will sometimes apply a topical numbing agent prior to the treatment or even anesthetize the treatment area with injectable lidocaine if required.
What does PicoWay ® treat?
This new laser can treat many things. It is very effective for pigment and we use it to treat liver spots (lentigines), tattoos, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and moles. It can also be used for melasma, although it requires multiple treatments to maintain the benefit. We typically use our Zoom unfractionated handpieces for these treatments.
This laser can also treat photoaging and acne scarring. We typically use our Resolve fractionated handpieces for these treatments.
What is PicoToning?
PicoToning refers to the use of picosecond lasers to gently improve many of the effects of photoaging. It can gently break down age spots while improving pore size and fine lines, and can even lighten skin colour, essentially brightening the skin with relatively little downtime. It generally requires 3 to 5 treatments. The treatments are not very painful and there is minimal downtime. Patients can be red for 1-3 days post-procedure. This type of procedure is uniquely suited to patients with busy schedules who still want to improve the appearance of their skin with minimal downtime.
Is PicoWay ® different from other picosecond lasers?
Yes, there are differences between PicoWay® and other picosecond lasers. Dr. Nakatsui looked at many picosecond lasers before choosing this one. While there are several differences, the two most important differences are (1) shortest pulse duration and (2) high peak power. PicoWay® has a pulse duration of as short as 300 ps, whereas other lasers have a pulse duration of as much as 750 ps. This shorter pulse duration is the most important factor and it means more photo-acoustic effect and less heat damage. This also means that higher powers can be safely used and as a result, PicoWay® has a peak power of 0.96 GW whereas other lasers have a peak power of 0.36 GW. These two factors offer significant advantages in efficacy and safety.
How many treatments will I require?
The number of treatments will depend on many factors, including the condition being treated, the location of the target lesion, and the skin type of the patient. For example, a liver spot might only require one or two treatments. On the other hand, a complicated, professional tattoo might require 10 treatments or more.
Are there any side effects from PicoWay ® ?
Patient selection is always key when considering any treatment. At your consultation, Dr. Nakatsui and his staff will perform a thorough assessment and discuss the potential risks involved with the treatment. Ultimately, Dr. Nakatsui will tailor the treatment to your needs. As with any laser treatment, some potential side effects include discoloration (hypo and hyperpigmentation), erythema (reddening of the skin), and crusting. These side effects typically improve and return to normal. Patients with darker skin colour are at more risk for side effects, although this laser is much safer than the previous generation of pigment lasers. As a result, we are able to treat a greater number of patients than ever before.
Contact Us For A Free PicoWay Consultation
Dr. Thomas Nakatsui MD FRCPC FAAD
Nakatsui Dermasurgery – Edmonton
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