Fraxel is the brand name of a fractional laser used for skin resurfacing. It gives the surface a fresh start by wiping it clean, which sounds a little scary but is effective. Here is what it actually does: the laser destroys a fraction of skin's cells. This allows the healthy cells left behind to respond by initiating a healing response. The end result is a regeneration the surface of the skin from the inside out.
Fraxel is great for anyone with acne scarring, fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and sun damage, because it penetrates deeply within the skin to erase damage and generate a fresh, healthy new surface. It can also be used to get rid of unwanted freckles. The treatment is safe to use on all skin types; but when it comes to people with darker skin tones (who have more melanin), there is a risk of developing darkening or discolouration. Lower energy levels should be used in these cases as a preventative measure.
There are two types of Fraxel Dual treatments: Fraxel re:store and Fraxel Dual (a bit confusing, no?). The re:store version goes a little deeper because it penetrates further into the skin thanks to its higher wavelength, but both forms of Fraxel provide ultimate skin rejuvenation. The amount of of Fraxel treatments needed for the best results varies from person to person.
So let's get to learning the differences between Fraxel treatments. It can get a little tricky. Here's a breakdown:
Fraxel Dual is non-ablative. It causes skin to look red with some minor swelling which subsides within a few days. There could also be some slight peeling. Julie E. Russak, M.D., FAAD and founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic, explained that this version of Fraxel is generally used to treat mild to moderate skin damage like sun spots, freckles, melasma, fine lines, and scarring. During treatment, patients can expect to feel a hot, stinging sensation. To dull this sensation, a medical-grade numbing cream will be applied to your skin by your doctor or esthetician an hour beforehand.
Once under the laser, the doctor or esthetician will make multiple passes over each area of the treatment area. Depending on what you're treating, it may take three to five Fraxel Dual sessions to reach your goals. I personally underwent just one Fraxel treatment as a preventative anti-ageing measure and to give my skin a fresh start by removing surface damage, and I was extremely pleased with the results.
Fraxel re:pair is a more aggressive ablative laser. It uses higher temperatures to vaporize unwanted tissues and completely remove the surface layer of skin. This form of Fraxel is used to treat severe damage and signs of ageing. "The benefits of this more intensive treatment option is that you're getting a much quicker result," Dr. Michael Edelman, assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai and the medical director at Chelsea Skin and Laser. However, the side effects are more intense and include swelling, scabbing, crusting, and peeling for at least a week. Patients can expect anywhere from two to three months of redness.
An hour before undergoing re:store, your doctor will apply medical-grade numbing cream and some may also be given a low dose of Valium or similar pain medicine to combat the sensation of intense heat and stinging both during and immediately after. Because of its invasiveness, Dr.Edelman warned that Fraxel re:pair should only be administered by a doctor in a sterile setting due to risk of infection.