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Blog: Pico for blackheads!

Picosecond lasers have arrived on Singapore shores and aesthetic doctors are excited about this for good reason.

Pico lasers for blackheads and pigmentation!

Picosecond lasers produce pulses of one-trillionths of a second compared to previous-generation nanosecond lasers which produce pulses of one-billionths of a second.

The picosecond pulse is so fast that it shatters pigments in sun and age spots and even tattoos — which are then expunged by the body — without risking the damage that can occur with nanosecond lasers utilising photothermal (heat) energy. This makes picosecond laser treatments more comfortable for patients in addition to being safer and more capable of precise applications than earlier generations of lasers.

Some of you may have read about my PicoSure laser trial administered by Dr Yang, who has invited me for another round of treatments with two picosecond lasers this time, the PicoSure laser and the Enlighten laser.

He prescribed these lasers for their unique wavelengths – the PicoSure laser emits pulses of 755nm wavelength, while the Enlighten laser emits pulses of 532nm and 1064nm. The 755nm wavelength of the PicoSure would be used for more superficial pigments while the 1064nm wavelength of the Enlighten would be for pigments which are embedded more deeply in my skin.

I take reasonably good care of my skin. I have a simple skincare regimen of cleansing, toning, and applying sunscreen and I tend not to use much makeup except for concealer for my dark circles, mascara, a little eyebrow pencil, setting powder and eyeliner and neutral colours when I am in the mood.

My skin is mostly clear except for blackheads on my nose (I have the bad habit of tweezing them out every now and then where I can). Around the time of the month, I develop the odd pimple around my chin and very mild psoriasis along my hairline and either side of my nose when under stress. I also have some very tiny dark skin tags on my temples near my eyes – you’d have to be really up close to notice them – and dark eye circles, which although have been mostly corrected with tear trough treatments by Dr Lam Bee Lan at Ageless Medical Centre, still retain some of their pigmentation.

No numbing cream was applied on me prior to treatment. Instead, Dr Yang asked his assistant to apply cold towels on my face to numb the surface for about 20 minutes, changing the towels when they start to warm up.

The PicoSure laser is built on picosecond technology. Most lasers use nanosecond technology.

Dr Yang tested the power of the PicoSure pulse on my jawline to ensure that I was comfortable enough with it before applying the laser to the rest of my face. I was advised to keep my eyes shut at all times.

It was mostly bearable; you might experience a slight burning smell due to the lasers being in contact with my tiny facial hairs (which also contain pigment). Dr Yang assured me that the laser pulse was not powerful enough to remove eyebrow hair.

It did get more uncomfortable (but not particularly painful) when he treated my nose due to the numerous tiny blackheads there. It was unnerving (but not particularly uncomfortable or painful) when he treated my under-eye pigmentation because I could still see the laser’s guiding light even with my eyes tucked back as far as I could into my sockets.

My face was cooled down for about 15 minutes with the cold towels, and the treatment with the Enlighten laser began.

The Enlighten laser is one of the latest picosecond lasers to enter the Singapore market

Again Dr Yang tested the pulse on my jawline and I was pleasantly surprised that the Enlighten laser was more comfortable in spite of the longer wavelength’s deeper penetration and so he confidently adjusted the power to a level where he could effectively undo pigments deep in my skin that had surfaced or were about to surface. He targeted the blackheads where it got a little bit more uncomfortable but bearable and also the tiny dark skin tags on my temples near my eyes — which admittedly had been there for most of my adult life.

It was 6pm in the evening when we finished and I was advised to go home barefaced — without a single daub of sunscreen — and to wash my face with only water that night to let the effects of the laser set in.

Observations immediately after my treatment:

  1. My skin felt a little tight after the laser treatment and the texture of my skin was “powdery”, as though I had applied powder over it

  2. The tiny dark skin tags around my eyes had disappeared completely – I didn’t think they would be easy to remove!

  3. The blackheads appeared much smaller than before the treatment, with many of them being near-invisible

Observations few days after treatment:

  1. The tightness and powdery texture have disappeared

  2. I developed one or two very tiny black spots where they weren’t any black spots before; thankfully they disappeared after a few days

  3. The blackheads on my nose remained small – too small for even my fine tweezer to grip

  4. I developed a few very superficial whiteheads on my nose which disappeared after a few days

  5. My nose felt smoother than usual

  6. Colours were easier to apply and kept for longer

  7. The colour of my skin was more even. My left cheek is usually dryer than the right cheek and might appear slightly pinkish on some days that I apply less blush on that cheek, but this was not the case some days after the treatment

Observations a week after a treatment:

An inexpensive and satisfying way of removing blackheads!

  1. The Biore Pore Pack revealed fewer and smaller blackheads than usual; which is a huge plus! At only $4.60 a packet, the Biore Pore pack is an inexpensive way of removing blackheads without resorting to painful extraction, especially for those of you, who like me, appreciate the satisfaction of seeing the blackheads on the pore pack. Not to be used more than once or twice a week. (Retailing at all leading drug stores and pharmacies)

  2. Many of the effects of the previous days remained

Dr Yang had asked me to come by for another treatment in the coming week, but I will have been in Bali by then. As much as I am diligent with my sunscreen and cover up my arms and legs when out and about, the Balinese sun will always find a way to get to my skin, and it takes usually a couple of months in air-conditioned Singapore for my skin tone to return to its original shade. Dr Yang asked me if I could promise him to go out only at night, which of course, I couldn’t!

I will be going for the next laser treatment nearly a week after my return from the well-deserved two-week holiday Bali; I’m excited to see what the picosecond lasers can do to help my skin revert back to its original tone.

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