The Fraxel® laser is the best laser to help you achieve smoother, evenly pigmented, tighter, younger looking skin. Its impressive technology improves the skin’s tone and texture, reduces wrinkles, (even around the eyes!), and is the gold standard in improving the appearance of surgical and acne scars. Brown spots, due to sun exposure and melasma, can also be targeted during a Fraxel treatment. This treatment stimulates the body’s own natural healing process to replace damaged skin with fresh, glowing, tighter healthy skin.
Dermatology Partners, Inc. offers both the Fraxel Dual and the Fraxel re:pair™. Our physicians will work with you to decide which laser is appropriate for you and your treatment goals.
What is Fractionated Laser Resurfacing or “Fraxel?”
Fractionated laser resurfacing, sometimes referred to as “Fraxel,” describes the use of a laser to create microscopic columns of heat injury into varying depths of the skin. Your doctor will determine how deep into the skin the laser will penetrate to get the desired result. The laser leaves microscopic “fractions” of skin untouched adjacent to the columns of thermal injury which allows rapid healing and less downtime. The thermal columns of treatment stimulate the body’s repair cells to replace the aging collagen and elastic tissue with fresh, firm, healthy tissue, resulting in skin tightening and even pigmentation.
CO2 resurfacing was the previous gold standard for skin tightening and wrinkle and acne scar reduction. However, it involved significant postoperative wound care as the entire skin surface was ablated away leaving open areas of oozing tissue. This “downtime” could last up to 2 weeks and redness could persist several months as the skin healed! Fractionated resurfacing using the Fraxel laser is the modern version of this previous treatment. It creates areas of laser-treated skin next to areas of untreated skin. These alternating zones decrease the downtime and side effects associated with traditional full ablative laser resurfacing. Healing time is greatly decreased, usually on the order of 3-7 days, depending on the depth of treatment. It is just as effective but with minimal postoperative care and downtime. It has become the new gold standard for laser reduction of wrinkles and acne scars.
Can Fractionated Laser Resurfacing be combined with other procedures?
Yes! This laser can be used with injectables such as Botox and fillers to optimize the correction you desire to achieve.
What is the difference between Fraxel Dual and Fraxel re:pair?
Fraxel Dual is the most up to date non-ablative fractionated laser that is actually 2 lasers in one! The 1927 nm thulium fiber targets pigment and very superficial wrinkles to produce even pigmentation and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. It evens destroys actinic keratoses and is great to reduce pigment due to melasma! Ideal candidates have mild-moderate photodamage or many brown spots, and irregular texture. The 1550 nm erbium fiber penetrates deeper to tighten collagen improving more prominent wrinkles and lines and also acne scars. Ideal candidates have mild-moderate wrinkles, folds, and lines or prominent acne scars and are looking to resurface their skin for a smoother appearance. This can be used to tighten skin on both the upper and lower eyelids as well. Both fibers are suitable for all skin types!
The Fraxel re:pair is an ablative fractionated laser used to resurface the skin more aggressively than the dual 1550 to tighten wrinkled and saggy skin, soften folds and wrinkles as well as reduce sunspots and red spots. This is a CO2 laser used to ablate or resurface the skin but in a fractionated array where laser treated areas are next to untreated areas to minimize side effects and downtime. This is an ABLATIVE treatment which means that there will be open or oozing areas of the skin postprocedure that will require significant wound care for several days. The skin will appear softer, brighter and more evenly toned 5-7 days after treatment. Collagen replacement due to collagen ablation in the deeper layers of the skin takes at least 3 months to occur so the skin tightening effects will appear 3-6 months postprocedure.
How many treatments will I need?
The 1927 fiber of the Fraxel Dual will likely achieve the results you desire in 1-2 treatments. The 1550 fiber Fraxel Dual treatment will likely need 3-5 treatments to achieve the desired correction. The Fraxel re:pair needs 1 treatment but has more preprocedural and postprocedural care and downtime compared to the multiple treatments needed with the Dual.
What are the side effects?
Topical anesthesia will be applied 1 hour before the laser procedure and cool air is blasted on the skin during the procedure so there will be no pain during the procedure. If eyelids are treated then an opaque steel contact will need to be inserted into the eyes for protection. We will apply cool compresses and a cool rejuvenating prohealing mask immediately postprocedure.
After treatment with the 1927 fiber, you can expect to be pink-red for a few days and scaly or peeling for up to 5-7 days. You will see immediate results once the peeling has resolved.
After the 1550, you can be slightly pink-red and swollen especially around the eyes which can last up to 3-7 days. Immediate smoothing and even tone with be noticeable and more tightening will occur over the next 3-6 months as collagen continues to remodel.
After treatment with the Fraxel re:pair, you will be pink-red, swollen, and have small open areas of skin which can ooze up to 3 days. After the oozing stops, you can have some crusted or scaling areas up to 1 week. You may have residual pinkness to the skin for up to 1 month.