As I rode the elevator to Shafer Clinic in Manhattan, I hesitated about going through with the Fraxel treatment awaiting me on the 33rd floor.
The Fraxel laser is highly praised for its comprehensive skin care benefits, such as reducing fine lines, improving skin texture, repairing sun damage, reducing acne scars, resurfacing the skin, and boosting skin firmness. Despite my initial concerns about the treatment, I decided to proceed to experience these benefits.
Although my fears turned out to be unfounded, I did need considerable downtime to see the rejuvenating results that the treatment is known for. In this guide, I will share my comprehensive take on the Fraxel procedure to help you make an informed decision.
Understanding the Fraxel Technology
Fractionated lasers, used for Fraxel treatments, work by creating microscopic injuries in certain parts of the skin while leaving other zones of healthy tissue untouched. These injuries trigger the skin’s natural reparative processes, leading to several skin benefits.
Within fractionated lasers, there are two main types: Ablative lasers, which vaporize the top layer of the skin to treat deeper wrinkles and sagging, and non-ablative lasers, which focus on the underlying layers of the skin for milder concerns with minimal downtime.
Fraxel serves as an in-between option, providing a five-day downtime that leaves the skin looking fresh and renewed, unlike more intense lasers which require longer recovery periods.
Wait, is there more than one Fraxel laser?
Yes, Fraxel is a brand name for a class of fractionated lasers. There are several types, including:
This is an ablative, CO2 laser that stimulates collagen production, suitable for those with deeper wrinkles and sagging. However, it requires up to two weeks of downtime and potential risk of hyperpigmentation.
This non-ablative and fractionated laser uses two wavelengths to target different layers of the skin for improved texture, fine lines, and scarring without significant downtime.
This laser delivers comparable results to Fraxel Re:Store and only requires a single pass over the skin, offering a more comfortable treatment experience.
This non-ablative, fractionated laser, is suitable for darker skin tones and offers skin rejuvenation and acne scar reduction with reduced risk of scarring and hyperpigmentation.
What are the main benefits of Fraxel
1. Increased Collagen Production
Fraxel stimulates collagen regeneration, resulting in firmer, plumper, and more youthful-looking skin.
2. Improved Cell Turnover
Fraxel accelerates cell turnover, leading to brighter, fresher skin with a more even texture and tone.
3. Reduction in Hyperpigmentation
Fraxel effectively breaks up excess melanin in the skin for a more even-toned complexion, free of hyperpigmented spots.
Who Fraxel is right for
When considering Fraxel or any laser treatment, it is important to consider your lifestyle and individual skin concerns. It may not be suitable for those with outdoor lifestyles with frequent sun exposure post-procedure. Additionally, it is crucial to ask your specific provider many questions for the best results, as there are various fractionated lasers with adjustable settings.
Before undergoing laser treatment, it’s important to ask questions about the downtime, the number of treatments required, and which laser is best suited for your specific skin type, tone, and concerns.
A Fraxel session usually begins with pre-treatment numbing, during which a numbing gel is applied to the face. After about 30 to 60 minutes, the laser treatment begins. The sensation of the laser may feel like a rubber band snapping on the skin, and a cooling head is used to prevent the skin from feeling too hot. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes, followed by icing to reduce swelling.
Immediately after the treatment, the skin may appear swollen, red, and hot, similar to a sunburn. It’s important to stay hydrated, avoid sun exposure, and apply cold compresses during this stage. Swelling typically begins to subside around day three, and it’s advised to use skincare products recommended by the provider, focusing on hydration, nourishment, and repair.
After about five to six days, the skin may start to peel, revealing healthier skin underneath. Additionally, some individuals may experience purging of the skin due to the accelerated cell turnover caused by the laser treatment.
To achieve the best results from Fraxel treatment, it’s crucial to maintain a robust skincare routine. Significant improvements in skin texture may be visible around two weeks after the treatment.
Some recommended post-Fraxel products include Alastin Ultra Calm Cleansing Cream, which is known for its gentle cleansing properties and suitability for post-procedure skin.
I enjoy using this occlusive instead of Vaseline. It contains aloe vera and squalane, providing soothing, hydrating, and barrier-locking properties to prevent water loss from the skin.
This powerful vitamin C serum is fortified with copper peptides to enhance its antioxidant capabilities, providing better protection against environmental stressors. It is non-sticky and can be effortlessly layered in your skincare routine.
After a Fraxel treatment, it’s essential to use a hydrating product to replenish the skin. This serum from Dr. Loretta contains antioxidants, glycolipids, lecithin, linoleic, and linolenic acids to deeply moisturize the skin.
These drops help to enhance the skin’s barrier function, accelerating post-laser skin recovery. They can be combined with vitamin C for application all over the face.
This moisturizer consists of plant ceramides, glycerin, squalane, chamomile extract, and niacinamide, which deeply hydrate and soothe the skin after a procedure.
Following a laser treatment, it is important to protect the skin from sunlight. This physical sunscreen includes zinc oxide and titanium dioxide with a slight peachy tint that blends seamlessly into the skin.
The final verdict
Despite my initial concerns about Fraxel, I now feel comfortable recommending it. The discomfort during the procedure is around a six or seven on a scale of ten, and while the recovery time is lengthy, the results are remarkable and long-lasting. If you have experienced sun damage or hyperpigmentation, or if you simply want to rejuvenate your skin, consulting a dermatologist to determine if Fraxel is right for you could be very beneficial.