Your skin tone is part of your identity. While there exists a cross-cultural variation in what the best skin tone is, everyone agrees that a smooth and even tone is beautiful. Hence pigmentation is a major cosmetic concern. On the other hand, new treatment modalities have sprung up to serve the increasing need for pigmentation treatment, not just in Singapore but all over the world. Pigmentation laser treatment is more and more frequently used nowadays, and the latest advancement is Pico lasers. Let us now look into more details on Pico Laser treatment in Singapore, starting with some background knowledge on pigmentation.
What Is Skin Pigmentation?
The pigment in our skin that decides how fair or dark we are is called Melanin. It is produced in special cells found in the skin called Melanocytes. This melanin is then transferred to other cells in the skin, creating a uniform tone all over the body. However, these melanocytes are sensitive to external factors such as exposure to UV light and hormones, and an imbalance in these factors can disrupt the normal function and cause melanocytes to overproduce melanin. This leads to pigmented patches in the skin, which may be cosmetically not so admirable.
Melasma, sunspots, age spots, and post-acne hyperpigmentation are some common conditions that present as hyperpigmented patches. While most of these causes are benign and have no impact on our physical health, they can have a negative effect on our mentality. In today’s world, where maintaining your looks is considered important, it may be a huge blow to your self-esteem to get pigmentation, especially on exposed areas such as your face. This is a research-proven fact. On the other hand, some forms of hyperpigmentation can signal the presence of an underlying medical condition such as melanoma, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), hemangioma, or even a drug reaction.
Is Pico Laser Better Than Other Lasers?
Pico lasers are the most recent advancement in laser technology used to treat pigmentation, which earlier consisted of Q-switched lasers ruby or Nd: YAG lasers, etc. The key principle behind pulsed laser treatment is delivering intense pulses of energy to hyperpigmented areas of the skin for a duration less than the thermal relaxation time. By using short pulses, we can ensure that minimal damage occurs to the surrounding tissue due to heat generation. Pigment particles absorb the light energy, and the particles expand. Through the photoacoustic effect, sound waves are generated that fragment the pigment particles. Once broken down, the body’s natural lymphatic system gets rid of them.
So How Do Pico Lasers Differ From Other Types Of Lasers?
The lasers difference lies in the pulse width. The lasers that were first to be invented emitted continuous waves. But they were soon followed by lasers that could emit short rapid pulses. As the name suggests, the duration in Pico lasers is measured in picoseconds, while the pulse width of other kinds of lasers can last up to a few nanoseconds.
Pico lasers are an effective treatment modality if used correctly for the right type of pigmentation concern. It has been proven to be superior to Q-switched lasers in the treatment of melasma and tattoo removal. As I mentioned earlier, they have a shorter pulse width, reducing the chance of skin damage and all other side effects associated with pigmentation laser treatment. At this point, it should be mentioned that lasers with longer pulse widths can leave you with patches that are more unsightly than the lesion you are being treated for. There is no need to say how disappointed someone would be if that were the case!
When Should We Think Of Pico Laser In Singapore?
Nonetheless, Pico laser is not a universal solution for all kinds of skin problems. It is crucial to get a doctor’s opinion in selecting what treatment modality to go forward with from the wide range of options available in Singapore. In some cases, Pico laser treatment will be considered when topical, oral medications or selected laser technologies fail to bring about a positive response.
In general, Pico laser lightens pigmentation effectively and produce better results for laser tattoo removal. Current data suggest that Pico lasers are superior at exogenous pigment removal compared to their older counterparts. The wavelength can be adjusted according to the color of the pigment, and even colors that are considered difficult to remove using other laser therapies can be removed using Pico. They are also used to treat hyperpigmentation concerns such as naevi, birthmarks, and freckles. However, the long-term efficacy of lasers in the treatment of melasma is arguable. It will provide a temporary solution but will not address the root cause behind the disease. Thus, it can recur. But still, symptom control is generally good.
As non-laser treatments are beyond the scope of this article, let us talk a bit more about the indications for laser therapy and the kind of lasers used in each case.
Pico laser does not address all types of concerns. Other lasers are used to treat vascular disorders, including superficial vascular malformations, hemangiomas, telangiectasias, etc. A pulsed dye laser with a large spot size is used to remove large lesions quickly. Q-switched ruby lasers are used to remove superficial lesions while Q-switched alexandrite lasers are used in deeper ones. Nd-YAG lasers are known to be less effective in melanin pigmentation but used in other disorders.
An advantage of laser therapy is that it brings good results in a short time. A single treatment session lasts only about ten minutes, and therefore can be easily fitted into your busy schedule. Again, laser treatment will make life easy for these people.
Planning An Effective Pigmentation Laser Treatment Program
Laser treatment programs should always be constructed under the guidance of a doctor. Research is being carried out on using combination laser treatment regimens to use the favorable qualities of several kinds of lasers. A Japanese study where a CO2 Laser, Nd: YAG laser, and Q-Switched Ruby Laser have been used in combination to remove melanocyte naevi has yielded good results. The team was able to create a better prognosis with zero complications and recurrences. Soon, scientists will find a way to incorporate Pico lasers as well into treatment regimes. It can also be utilized to treat melasma more effectively by acting on more than one of the pathways leading to melasma.
To get good results from any laser treatment program, finding the right doctor is essential. He should be an experienced clinician with the ability to diagnose your condition correctly. Most pigmented lesions will look similar to the untrained eye and good theoretical knowledge as well as experience will be needed to come to a correct diagnosis. This will be important as the type of laser treatment will differ accordingly. Furthermore, your doctor’s clinical skill will determine the quality of the outcome as well. A good doctor will be able to achieve a far superior result with the same machine by adjusting the settings. Remember, just because your clinic has sophisticated equipment, doesn’t mean you can expect good results. Finding a good doctor is more important. The best way to do so is by asking for pre- and post-treatment photos of previous patients from your doctor. Then you will be able to make an informed decision on your own.
An important aspect of any medical procedure is pre- and post-treatment care. Pre-treatment care is simple. Most of the time you will be asked to stay away from other skin therapies and direct sunlight during the weeks preceding laser. Post-treatment care may be slightly more difficult to achieve. Your skin essentially gets burned to some degree, and there will be some ongoing inflammation after laser treatment. You will need to keep the area clean to prevent infections. However, your usual soaps might not be suitable in this situation. You might be advised to wash your face with only water or normal saline for a few days. You can use ice packs to bring down the inflammation. A petroleum jelly-based moisturizer should be used to promote healing, and you should stay away from hot water and makeup for a while. Especially in conditions like melasma, we need to keep in mind that it can return if we do not avoid triggers like sun exposure and exogenous hormones.
Pico lasers are a step forward in pigmentation laser treatment for sure, but there is still much to discover. Its efficiency and favorable side effect profile place it above older technologies. Perhaps shortly, we will develop more and more indications for Pico laser use, including in combination laser therapy. Pico laser in Singapore shows traits of becoming a big thing in the near future.