Cosmetic tattoos or embroidery have grown in popularity and social acceptability. Eyeliner and eyebrow embroidery or tattoos tend to be popular these days since the eyes, as people say, are the windows to the soul. Having defined, well-groomed brows and immaculate eyeliner frames the face enhancing all your facial features.
However, getting the look consistently on point during the busy morning rush out of the house can be challenging. Thus time-starved ladies and men often opt for eyeliner or eyebrow embroidery or tattoos to look more put together and presentable while saving time on make-up.
Eyeliner/eyebrow embroidery or tattoos may not turn out as perfectly as envisaged and patients often seek removal. Common reasons include:
Discovery Pico Plus is a second-generation triple wavelength picosecond q-switched laser that generates the highest peak power in Singapore and the world. With more than 5 times the peak power of the most powerful nanosecond Nd:YAG laser beams (Starwalker) and 450 picosecond laser pulses that are more than 10 times shorter, it results in a more photoacoustic effect with less collateral damage. This means that I can use it to shatter pigments more effectively leading to quicker tattoo removal results, fewer treatment sessions required and lower risk of complications such as scarring.
The tattoo removal process can be customised with three active wavelengths are needed to cover almost all colours of tattoo ink pigments. 1064 nm wavelength targets dark green and black pigment, 532 nm wavelength targets red, orange and yellow ink, and the 694 nm wavelength targets notoriously hard to treat green and blue ink. Most picosecond lasers are limited to two (532/1064nm) wavelengths with the third wavelength deriving from inefficient dye conversion. Discovery Pico Plus is the first picosecond laser to include a full power Ruby 694nm wavelength able to deliver up to 1200 mJ of energy and not just few hundred mJ such as other “red” lasers.
One of the most popular choices in Singapore, the Ultrapulse fractional CO2 laser is absorbed by water in cells. It produces ablation of a fraction of the skin vaporizing many tiny channels. Due to the short pulse duration, there is deep penetration of the skin with minimal collateral damage, reducing downtime and risk of complications like post-inflammatory pigmentation. It is used to pretreat the skin before shattering the tattoo pigments with q switched laser. The results of this removal laser technique in Singapore highly depends on the doctor's experience using with the removal laser.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy is another choice in Singapore. It uses a hand-held device to transmit focused shockwave energy deep into the tissues, this enhances tattoo removal by increasing lymphatic drainage and metabolic activity, thereby accelerating the clearance of dermal pigment vacuoles produced by the picosecond laser and minimizing side effects such as redness, swelling, crusting.
Eyebrow/eyeliner tattoos and embroidery are becoming exceedingly commonplace in Singapore, from ubiquitous professional brow studios to the mushrooming of home-based salons. Correspondingly, requests for removals have skyrocketed such that even salons are (illegally) offering 'laser removal' for eyebrow/eyeliner tattoos or embroidery. What is the difference between what I do during eyebrow/eyeliner tattoo removal and what salons/other clinics do?
Common concerns when patients consult for eyebrow/eyeliner tattoo/embroidery laser removal are:
Anytime a laser or light-based device is used, particularly near the eyes, there is a risk of visual damage. It is essential to have the right equipment available to ensure safe and comfortable removal, which is not always available everywhere eyebrow/eyeliner tattoo/embroidery laser removal is offered. I've heard feedback from patients that they've had some difficulty locating clinics that actually have the right equipment ready.
The eye area is very delicate and sensitive. Most patients can tolerate the procedure with strong numbing cream, but having options for more complete pain relief can make a huge difference to patient comfort as well as the outcome. If the patient is too uncomfortable during the procedure, we wouldn't accurately target the ink at the right area with the right power. Having the right tools, techniques, and experience to perform appropriate nerve blocks will enable more optimal laser removal for eyebrow/eyeliner tattoos or embroidery in fewer sessions.
Eyebrow and eyeliner tattoos or embroidery are unique among tattoos because they are placed on hair-bearing skin. Any scarring that develops can thus destroy the normal hair follicles producing bald spots. Thus, it is even more important to minimize the risk of scarring.
Q switched laser tattoo removal (whether using traditional nanosecond or newer picosecond lasers) uses ultrashort laser pulses to produce photoacoustic breakdown of tattoo pigment. This also creates superheated gas and steam trapped within the skin that causes collateral damage resulting in blistering, increasing the risk of scarring and hair loss.
My approach is to use a combination of fractional ablative laser, q-switched picosecond laser (sometimes referred to as FracTAT), and shockwaves to address these pain points. The fractional laser drills micro-channels in the skin that act as pressure relief ducts through which the superheated gases can escape without building up excessive pressure. I use this in combination with the Discovery Pico Plus picosecond q-switched laser that has the highest peak power available for tattoo removal and short pulse durations that confine the laser energy better, resulting in less collateral damage. Shockwave therapy further enhances tattoo clearance by increasing lymphatic drainage and metabolic activity, thereby accelerating the clearance of dermal pigment vacuoles produced by the picosecond laser and minimizing side effects such as redness, swelling, crusting.
Ghosting or faint remnant tattoos are difficult to remove with nanosecond lasers or lower-powered picosecond lasers. These occur when there are:
The combination of high peak power from the Discovery Pico Plus and the increased penetration afforded by the fractional laser pretreatment is especially crucial for faint remnant tattoos that are hard to clear with traditional nanosecond laser treatment. This higher safety margin and effectiveness allows for more aggressive treatment and better tattoo clearance in fewer sessions.
For tattoos that have faded to a green/blue/purple shade, a third wavelength is necessary to match the absorption of these colours. Most clinics have lasers that are able to produce this third wavelength of light but they often do this through conversion, whereas the Discovery Pico Plus laser is able to produce a native full-powered ruby wavelength that can deliver more energy for better removal of these colours.
Overall, combination treatment improves the efficacy, safety and tolerability of laser tattoo removal in Singapore hence I strongly recommend it over conventional old-fashioned single q-switched laser tattoo removal. To my knowledge, it's not common for a triple combination technique to be used in Singapore for tattoo removal. Other than the actual techniques and machines used, the safety, speed, comfort, and effectiveness of the eyebrow/eyeliner tattoo or embroidery laser removal is also strongly dependent on the clinic and doctor, so choose wisely!
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