Customers seek Fraxel laser treatments for three reasons: hyperpigmentation or sun damage, wrinkles, and acne scarring. People most commonly have lasers applied to their whole faces, but the neck, décolletage, hands, and arms are also popular areas to treat.
For textured acne scars, in particular (think: icepick, boxcar, and rolling scars), lasers are more effective than any topical treatment. Being able to go that deep allows you to really break up that scar tissue that’s clouding the textural difference, whereas a cream wouldn’t be able to.
Are there different types of fraxel lasers?
The Fraxel dual laser is the type you commonly find in a med spa. It features two lasers with different wavelengths in one device:
One that targets pigmentation and sun damage and another that goes deeper to target wrinkles, texture, and acne scarring.
There is Fraxel Restore, a non-ablative (meaning no open wounds) laser, and Fraxel Repair, which is the most powerful and uses an ablative fractionated carbon dioxide laser for more severe cases. The latter requires more extensive downtime.
No matter which Fraxel laser you choose, the mechanism is the same, the energy from the lasers creates tiny "columns of thermal destruction" in the skin that stimulate the growth of new, healthy skin cells to replace old, damaged cells. It's really working from the inside out. The skin turnover and collagen production, which is actually just the body's natural healing process accelerated.
How do you prepare for a Fraxel laser treatment?
First, make sure you don't have extensive breakouts, open wounds, or infections on the face. Stop using products with retinoids one week before your treatment. On the actual day-of, you'll be topically numbed for 45 minutes, and the procedure itself takes 20 to 30 minutes depending on where you're getting treated.
Do Fraxel lasers hurt?
The sensation is sometimes describes as "a little teeny prickling," but because your face will be numbed so it should only be "mildly uncomfortable."
How much downtime do you need after a Fraxel treatment?
Typically three to five days of downtime. You won't look like raw meat but you're going to be red, peeling, and scaley.
What does aftercare look like?
Make sure to use ample amounts of sun protection. You're also going to want to avoid any harsh products or prescription acne products on your skin for up to a week. Use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer twice a day and avoid peeling and picking your skin at all costs. That will only make you red and take longer to heal. It'll peel when it's ready. No exfoliation.
Start with gentle cleansers like the Eminence Organic Foaming Facial cleansers twice a day. Then, a Vitamin C serum in the recovery period like Skinceuticals Phloretin gel every morning.
Use SkinCeuticals sunscreen in the morning, but any moisturizer is great because it's not too thick, so if you put it on during the day it won't clog the pores.