According to a 2012 Harris Poll, one out of five Americans has a tattoo — but 14% of those people wish they could take back the ink. Until very recently, tattoo removal was unavoidably painful, time consuming and —even worse —incomplete. But new technology might change all of that.

Current tattoo removal generally relies on multiple lasers to remove different colors of ink. Because of the way colors absorb into the skin, lighter colors such as green, blue and yellow have traditionally been more difficult to remove than black ink. The pain involved in these treatments has been described as being snapped by a rubber band or being spattered with hot bacon grease. (Ouch!)

Current lasers send concentrated light energy in short-pulse bursts—in nanoseconds, to be exact. But a new laser called PicoSure™ is now on the market and promises to deliver that same energy in picoseconds—trillionths of a second.

The FDA-approved PicoSure laser erases tattoo ink more efficiently and cause less injury to surrounding tissue than current lasers, and appears to achieve significantly better results on lighter colored ink. On average, 94% clearance was achieved for blue and green ink. Because of the laser’s efficiency, only 2-4 treatments are normally required, instead of the 8-12 needed with current technology.

The good news doesn’t stop there, though. This new laser has also been FDA cleared to treat benign pigmented lesions such as moles, melasma and seborrhoeic keratosis.

The PicoSure device will be available to cosmetic dermatologists and plastic surgeons in the near future. Stay tuned for the latest information on this cutting edge technology as it becomes available.