The Ultimate Fraxel Laser Treatment Guide

Fraxel laser treatment

We all have insecurities about our skin, whether it’s hyper pigmentation from sun damage, facial scarring from acne breakouts, or wrinkles and fine lines from aging.  Fraxel laser resurfacing is an exciting method that can renew and rejuvenate damaged skin.

Fraxel laser treatment
Example of fraxel laser treatment results

What exactly does a fraxel laser do?

A fraxel laser procedure works by penetrating internal layers of skin.  The body’s natural collagen (the protein that gives your skin a healthy, youthful look) is triggered and starts to repair the targeted area of treatment. A single session of fraxel laser treatment will jumpstart the skin to repair itself on its own. There are two types of fraxel lasers, a non-ablative laser, which will not wound the skin, and an ablative laser, which wounds the skin.  We will further discuss the pros and cons of using each laser later.

How do I know if fraxel laser treatment is for me?

Fraxel Laser Therapy is most commonly used for three types of skin conditions: hyper pigmentation from sun damage, wrinkles, and acne scarring.  Some examples of hyper pigmentation are sunspots and age spots. Fraxel lasers have also gained popularity from its effective treatment of acne scarring and wrinkles (fine lines, creases, folds, or ridges on skin).

Dermatologists have found that laser treatments are more effective than topical treatments for more serious skin conditions.  This is because lasers deeper layers of the skin, allowing newer, healthier looking skin to develop.

Hyper pigmentation face from sun damage.
Hyper pigmentation face from sun damage.
Acne scarring.
Acne Scarring
Wrinkles and fine lines.
Wrinkles and fine lines.

How many types of fraxel lasers are there?

There are two different types of fraxel lasers.  Often, a dermatologist’s office will carry both options, and they will decide on the appropriate laser for your condition. 

The first type of fraxel laser, Fraxel Dual, is a non-ablative laser that is commonly used to treat mild skin conditions.  A non-ablative laser does not wound the surface of the skin, unlike an ablative laser.  There are two wavelength options in the Fraxel Dual: a 1927 wavelength that targets skin conditions such as hyper pigmentation, dark spots, and sun damage, and a 1550 wavelength, that targets skin textures such as fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scarring. If you choose to undergo treatment with the Fraxel Dual laser, your dermatologist will determine the best wavelength for your specific condition.

The second type of fraxel laser, Fraxel Repair, is a more powerful, ablative laser, meaning it removes outer layers of skin to stimulate fresh skin growth underneath.  Ablative laser treatments require more healing time and care.  Fraxel Repair can be used to treat similar skin conditions that a non-ablative laser treats, but it is best used to treat more severe skin damage from hyper pigmentation, wrinkles, and acne scars.

Fraxel Dual laser
Fraxel Duel laser
Fraxel laser treatment
Fraxel laser treatment

What first steps should I take if I’m interested in getting fraxel laser treatment?

The first step if you are interested in fraxel laser treatment is to consult with a trusted dermatologist or physician to see if you are a good candidate.

Here are a few points to keep in mind as you are making your decision:

  • Fraxel laser treatment is considered a cosmetic procedure, so it is not covered by medical insurance.
  • Costs for treatment vary from the types of lasers used, and the amount of sessions needed for effective treatment.
  • A typical single fraxel laser treatment costs around $1,500 dollars.

How do I find the best dermatologist near me for fraxel laser treatment?

It’s important to work with a trusted doctor who is board certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery or the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery for fraxel laser treatment.

Here’s are some possible questions you may to find the best dermatologist for you:

  • How much experience do you have with fraxel laser treatment?
  • What is your experience with my skin tone, and have you treated my condition before?
  • Do you have before and after pictures of clients for the procedure I am interested in getting?
  • What are possible side effects?
  • What does the recovery process look like?
  • How many sessions will I need for this treatment?
Find the best dermatologist for you.
Find the best dermatologist for you.

How do I prepare for the treatment?

Your dermatologist will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your fraxel laser treatment, and it will vary from skin type to skin type.

Typically, a week before your treatment, you will need to stop using any products that can cause skin sensitivities.  This can include retinoids, retinols, exfoliants, and acids like glycolic acid or salicylic acid.

It’s important to not have any active acne breakouts or open wounds on your skin the day of the treatment. If you do end up breaking out or have wounds, your dermatologist may want to postpone the treatment until your conditions have healed.

What happens during the fraxel laser procedure?

It takes about 20-30 minutes to complete a session of fraxel laser treatment. 

Before the procedure begins, your dermatologist will treat the targeted area with a topical numbing cream.  During the procedure, you will feel a mild-tingling, prickling sensation on the areas being treated.  It may feel slightly uncomfortable, but the numbing anesthetic makes the procedure very tolerable.

What happens after your fraxel laser treatment?

The recovery time of fraxel laser treatment varies depending on the type of laser used.  If an ablative laser is used (Fraxel Repair) the typical healing time is a week, and you can expect some redness and swelling (similar to that of a sunburn) the first few days after treatment.  Afterwards, some roughness and peeling will occur.  Resist the temptation to peel flakes, as this can lengthen recovery time or cause permanent scarring.

If a non-ablative laser is used (Fraxel Dual), there are minimal side effects and the recovery time is shorter. You may experience slight redness, swelling, and peeling, but the effects typically resolve themselves within a week.

It’s important to use plenty of sunscreen after treatment.  Follow the instructions from your dermatologist.  Some examples of instructions may be: avoiding harsh skin products for a period of time, and using mild cleansers and moisturizers during the healing process. It’s important to consult with your dermatologist for proper post-procedure care.

Do I need multiple fraxel laser treatments?

Depending on the severity of your skin condition, you may benefit from a series of fraxel laser treatments.  Some people with severe acne scars and wrinkles may seek multiple treatments spread out over a few months.  Less severe conditions may require only one or two sessions.

The amount of sessions needed also depends on the type of fraxel laser used.  A stronger laser may be more effective in treating the skin condition, but can require a longer healing time.  A weaker laser will not cause wounding, but may require multiple sessions to achieve the desired aesthetic.

It is important to note that fraxel laser treatments are not permanent.  According to dermatologists, a successful fraxel laser treatment can last for a year or more.  It’s recommended that you do a round of treatment once a year to maintain your skin.

Conclusion

Fraxel laser treatment can be a useful tool in treating skin conditions, however, it’s important to find the right treatment and doctor for your condition.  If used properly, a round of fraxel laser treatment may help diminish unappealing skin conditions and provide you with more confidence and better looking skin.

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