Fraxel Laser – Expectations

Three resurfacing lasers:
• Fraxel™ (a fractional diode laser)
• Fractional CO2 laser
• Traditional CO2 laser

What can I expect during my treatment?
The process starts at home where you apply a topical numbing cream that we have prescribed for you, approximately ninety minutes before treatment. Apply this cream generously, like “icing on a cake”, and reapply as it absorbs into your skin. At our office, the nurse will remove the numbing cream moments before the procedure. Finally, the treatment begins and the laser scans your face about four times in different directions. This takes about 30 minutes.

What about after treatment?
Fraxel laser:
Side effects are minimal and usually limited to a sunburn-like redness and some mild swelling which disappears in a few days. Within 24 hours, new epidermal skin will develop and your skin will have a bronze appearance which can last from three days up to two weeks depending on what level of treatment you have received. As the new skin replaces the treated skin, it will flake off. Emollients (i.e. moisturizers) can counteract some of the flaking effect.

Fractional CO2 laser:
This is an “ablative” laser so you will have a grid of tiny crusts on your skin (see photo) lasting 5 to 10 days depending on the type of treatment. After-care consists mainly of gently cleansing the skin and applying an ointment like Aquaphor to keep the crusts moist until they naturally shed. The 5 to 10 day range of healing depends on whether you had a deep treatment aimed more at wrinkles, where the tiny crusts are deep but far apart from each other versus a superficial treatment aimed more at color and texture, where the crusts are superficial but tightly packed in a dense grid pattern on your face.

Results I can expect:
Fraxel laser:
After using this laser since August of 2005 we agree with the general consensus, that this is the new “gold standard” for the treatment of acne scars. Not all acne scars will respond well to this laser. The Fraxel can significantly improve undulating or “saucer-like” acne scars. These are scars that are wider than they are deep. On the other hand it seems to do little for “ice-pick” scars. These are tiny deep holes that look like they were made with an ice pick.

Four or five treatment sessions (spaced two to four weeks apart) are required for optimal results.
Click here for more information on acne scars.

Fractional CO2 laser:
In 2008 this laser technology became the “gold standard” for treating the wrinkles and textural changes that are caused by sun damage. After using this laser since May 2008 we agree with the consensus that this is the most effective safe laser for treating these problems (although the traditional CO2 laser is probably more effective at treating wrinkles, it is not as safe as the fractional CO2 laser). In our experience with this laser, the rate of patient satisfaction has been extraordinarily high. Improvement of sun damage is dramatic, but wrinkles are hard to treat and this is not a perfect science. We have seen some dramatic results with wrinkles around the eyes, but only modest results for the vertical lines around the mouth (“smoker’s lines”). One to two (and sometimes three) treatment sessions (spaced three to four weeks apart) are required for optimal results.

Fraxel: The concept | Fraxel expectations | Fraxel vs Fractional CO2 SUMMARY | Fractional CO2 Video


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