Pico Laser Review and Side Effects: What You Need To Know

Pico laser treatments have become an extremely popular way to treat various skin conditions and imperfections. From acne scars and hyperpigmentation to unwanted tattoos, pico lasers seem to promise exceptional results with minimal side effects.

But do these claims really hold up? In this brutally honest review, I’ll give you the good, the bad, and the downright ugly side effects of pico laser so you can decide if it’s right for you.

What is Pico Laser?

Unlike traditional laser treatments that use pulses that last nanoseconds, pico lasers deliver ultra-short pulses that last just picoseconds. These bursts of energy help break up pigment and ink particles in the skin without excess heat damage.

There are a few different brands of pico lasers, with PicoSure and PicoWay being two of the most common. Each uses a different wavelength of light to target particular skin issues:

  • 755 nm – Effective at treating pigment like sun spots and melasma
  • 532 nm – Better for red pigment and vascular lesions
  • 1,064 nm – The deepest penetrating to treat tattoos and deeper pigment

Pico Laser Benefits: The Good Stuff

When performed correctly by an experienced provider, pico laser treatments offer exceptional results for a variety of skin concerns. Some benefits include:

1. Removing Unwanted Tattoos

One of the most common uses of pico laser is tattoo removal, with many considering it the gold standard treatment. The quick bursts of energy break up tattoo ink so the body can flush it out naturally.

Most providers suggest around 6-12 sessions spaced 6-8 weeks apart for complete removal. The number needed depends on the tattoo’s size, location, age, and ink colors.

2. Fading Stubborn Pigment

Sun spots, melasma, acne scars – these stubborn pigment issues can be difficult to treat. The pico laser’s ability to target pigment without excess heat makes it very effective.

Most patients see significant improvement in 3-5 sessions. Maintenance treatments may be needed occasionally to keep the renewed complexion.

3. Smoothing Skin Texture

The pico laser can also improve overall skin texture, reducing the appearance of fine lines, enlarged pores, and uneven texture. Instead of ablating the skin’s surface, pico lasers create controlled injuries below the surface to stimulate collagen and elastin.

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Most patients need 3-6 sessions spaced 4-6 weeks apart to see optimal smoothing and tightening of the skin.

4. Minimal Downtime

Unlike traditional resurfacing lasers, pico laser is considered a non-ablative technology. This means it does not damage the surface layer of skin.

While you may experience some redness and swelling immediately after, there is little to no peeling or scabbing. Most patients can return to normal activities within a day or so.

Pico Laser Side Effects: The Bad and Ugly

While pico laser can produce transformative results, it does come with risks and potential side effects. Being informed on what to expect can help you avoid complications.


The #1 risk factor following any laser treatment on deeper skin tones is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). This discoloration can be stubborn to treat.

To reduce the risk of PIH,prep the skin 4-6 weeks pre-treatment with hydroquinone or products containing tranexamic acid, kojic acid, etc. Avoid sun exposure and use diligent SPF protection after each session.

Blisters and Scabbing

While not common, some patients may experience blistering and even scab formation following pico laser. This usually occurs when the laser is set too high.

Proper settings are imperative not only for safety, but also for optimal results. Blisters and scabs lengthen healing time and increase the risk of infection, scarring and PIH.

Paradoxical Darkening of Tattoos

After multiple pico laser sessions, tattoo ink can turn from black to a bluish-gray color initially. This is normal and means the treatment is working effectively.

In rare cases, some tattoos may turn blacker – an effect called paradoxical darkening. Additional passes at subsequent treatments helps break up this stubborn pigment.

Lower settings with more sessions is preferable to overly aggressive treatment that can damage skin. Paradoxical darkening is usually temporary.

Finding a Reputable Pico Laser Provider

As with most cosmetic treatments, results rest heavily on the skill and experience of your provider. Do your research to find someone appropriately trained on pico laser technology.

A few tips when vetting providers:

  • Avoid “laser centers” or med spas – Look for a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon for the best care
  • Request before and after photos of actual patients to evaluate skill level
  • Ask specific questions about their protocols, settings, and number of treatments to see if it aligns with standards
  • Watch out for prices that seem “too good to be true”
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Reputable providers invest in the latest technology and comprehensive training. This means pricing may be higher than less qualified outlets. But choosing an expert is well worth it for optimal, safe outcomes.

Pico Laser Reviews: Real Patient Perspectives

The best way to understand the patient experience with pico laser is to hear it straight from those who’ve undergone treatment.

Here are some real patient reviews that give an inside look at the process, results…and potential hiccups that can happen.

Tattoo Removal Reviews

“While complete tattoo removal takes time and dedication, I’m blown away by the progress after just 3 sessions. It’s fading perfectly. My med spa uses PicoSure – while not painless, the laser doesn’t linger long so very tolerable.” – Sarah P.

“I’ve done 5 sessions so far to remove black tribal tattoos with PicoWay laser. The lines turned blue at first, which apparently is common as ink breaks down. But now some bits have turned pitch black and looks almost darker than originally! I’m nervous it’s not working or even making it worse. I still have faith in the process but it’s concerning.” – Omar T.

“Wow – after just one single PicoSure treatment the outlines of my tattoos are almost gone! I had prepared for a long journey, so I’m shocked by how quickly it’s removing. No issues healing either. Can’t wait to blast the remaining shading and be tattoo-free!” – Ella R.

Pigmentation Reviews

“I had terrible melasma exacerbated by pregnancy hormones. After a really bad experience with IPL that left my face blistered, I was terrified to try laser again. But 3 sessions with PicoSure successfully lightened the pigment by about 80% with no bad reactions! Love my glow up.” – Nia J.

“Pico laser worked amazingly to erase years of sun spots and acne scarring. The only downside was that my face swelled up like a balloon for 4-5 days post procedure. The med spa never warned me about possible swelling or how to manage it. Still thrilled with the overall outcome but wish I’d been prepared!” – Taylor S.

“I had high hopes for PicoSure to get rid of the dark spots scattered across my cheeks. But when the settings felt really weak, I should have realized something might be wrong. Flash forward to NO change in my hyperpigmentation, $1000 wasted, and my confidence even lower than before treatment. Do your research to find a reputable laser pro!” – Pat G.

The Bottom Line: Is Pico Laser Right For You?

While considered very safe when performed properly, pico laser treatments do come with risks like any cosmetic procedure. Most patients tolerate the procedure well and are very happy with their investment.

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Still, it pays to walk in fully informed not only on the potential results but also possible side effects.

If you are considering treatments, meet with a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon for an in-depth discussion. Be sure to ask questions and set appropriate expectations.

Reputable providers also happen to have the most state-of-the-art pico lasers and the experience needed to administer treatments with an exceptionally high safety profiles and results.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pico Laser Treatments

How much does pico laser cost?

The average pico laser treatment ranges from $200 to $800 per session, with packages offering discounts. Exact pricing depends on your provider, desired outcome, and number of treatments needed. Larger tattoo removal requires the most sessions (6-12 treatments usually).

Does getting a pico laser treatment hurt?

Most patients tolerate pico laser very well, reporting little to no pain. Less overlap of laser pulses helps minimize discomfort. Your provider may use cooling air or numbing cream as well. The quick treatment times also keep any stinging sensation short-lived.

How long is recovery from a pico laser?

Another perk of pico laser is the very short downtime. Expect some redness and swelling immediately after but most patients heal completely within 24 to 72 hours. There are almost never any scabs or bandages. You can resume normal activities usually by the next day.

How long until I see results from pico laser skin rejuvenation?

Improvements in skin quality happens gradually over your treatment series. After the first session most patients notice some refinement of tone/texture along with darkening pigment getting ready to flake off. Maximum results emerge after the 3 to 6 month treatment period. Maintenance sessions may keep skin radiant for longer.

Can I go out in the sun after getting pico laser?

No sun exposure or tanning for 4-6 weeks pre and post-treatment! UV rays increase risk for side effects and inhibit results. Proper SPF protection is vital when participating in outdoor activities. Let your skin heal fully between sessions.

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By Don Billy

Don Billy is a veteran reviewer on Legit Source. For over 5 years, he has investigated companies and evaluated products to separate truth from hype. Don thoroughly researches and tests offerings to determine if they deliver as promised and these transparent reviews have helped protect consumers from scam artists. He is dedicated to arming shoppers with honest information.