Today’s laser treatments, such as Fraxel, are considerably different from the lasers of the past. They are typically gentler, but still do a considerable amount when it comes to treating a variety of skin concerns and facial irregularities. Whether you’re upset about the signs of aging on your face or have long dealt with scarring and other irregularities, Fraxel laser resurfacing might be the right treatment for you.
What Fraxel Treats
Typically, cosmetic treatments focus on and treat one major issue. Injections such as Botox or Dysport target the wrinkles and lines created by repeated facial movements, for example. Facial plastic surgery focuses on minimizing sagging, removing extra, loose skin and tightening muscle. Injectable fillers fill in certain types of lines and wrinkles.
Fraxel lasers, on the other hand, can treat a variety of skin concerns and irregularities. If you are concerned about fine lines and wrinkles, laser treatment with Fraxel can help. The laser also works on dark spots and uneven pigmentation, can smooth away scarring, and can improve the overall texture of your skin. It can also help reduce or remove precancerous lesions on the skin.
How Fraxel Works
How the treatment works depends on the type of laser your surgeon uses. The re:store laser is the original laser. It works in a non-ablative way, meaning that it doesn’t destroy the outer layer of skin. Instead, re:store creates tiny “micro injuries” just beneath the surface of your skin. These micro injuries are often compared to pixels.
After treatment, the skin responds to the injuries by forcing out the damaged skin cells and replacing them with fresh cells. The healing response also stimulates the production of collagen, which helps skin become smoother and firmer. While your skin is flushing out the damaged cells, it’s common to see some flaking. It’s best to leave the flakes alone, as they will eventually slough off themselves.
Unlike the re:store laser, the re:pair laser is an ablative treatment. That means it removes and destroys the top layer of skin, producing quicker, more dramatic results. The trade off is that you have a longer recovery time, as you need to wait for the outer layer of skin to heal.
Does It Hurt?
It’s reasonable to wonder if treatment with any type of Fraxel laser is painful. The answer is, it depends. Typically, a topical anesthetic is applied to the skin before a re:store treatment, to numb any discomfort. Patients getting a re:pair treatment might also be given a sedative. The sedative won’t be strong enough to put you to sleep but will make it so that you don’t remember much, if anything, about the treatment.
One of the big concerns with Fraxel is the feeling of heat during the treatment. The anesthetic should help dial back the heat. Usually, a staff member uses a fan during treatment to help cool the patient’s skin.
The length and intensity of the procedure also determines how much heat and discomfort there is. While you get greater results from a longer treatment that involves more passes of the laser over the skin, it’s also typically hotter and slightly more uncomfortable.
What to Expect Afterwards
How long recovery takes after your laser treatment depends on which type you receive. After either type of Fraxel, you can expect to have some swelling and redness. It might feel as though you have a bad sunburn or like your face is very hot. As mentioned above, it’s common for the skin to start to flake or peel as the damaged cells are sloughed off. It’s best to leave those cells alone, as they will fall off on their own. Trying to scrub away or exfoliate them can make any irritation worse.
When you can return to your regular life depends on the type of treatment you have. Many people are able to get back into their daily activities a day or so after re:store. After a treatment with re:pair, you might need to take as much as a week off from work to give your skin time to fully heal.
Is It for You?
Should you get Fraxel? If you have scarring, spots, fine lines and uneven texture, it might be ideal for you. But, you also want to think of the time commitment involved. Usually, people have multiple treatments, between three and six, spaced about a month apart. You might seem some results from a single treatment, but multiple treatments typically give you the most dramatic results. Even after you feel OK going into public again, it can still take weeks before you see the full results from the treatment.
Another consideration is the cost of treatment. Each session costs around $1,000 to $1,900, depending on the type of laser and the size of the treated area. Financing is often available to help you pay for treatment. If you’re considering Fraxel, your best option is to schedule a consultation with a facial plastic surgeon to learn more about the procedure.
About Dr. Rubinstein
Dr. Ran Y. Rubinstein offers re:store and re:pair Fraxel laser treatments at Laser & Cosmetic Surgery Specialists, PC in Newburgh, New York. A board certified facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Rubinstein can help you understand what skin concerns Fraxel treats and which type of laser is right for you. He can also provide guidance and advice about other treatments that work along with the Fraxel laser. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Rubinstein, call 845-863-1772 today.