What is Fraxel?

Fraxel is a new method of laser resurfacing which employs fractional laser technology. This technology was developed by Drs. Deiter
Manstein and Rox Anderson at Harvard University. There are a number of devices on the market today which utilize this breakthrough technique, of which Fraxel is among the most popular. The effects are varied and mostly depend upon what type of wound the laser creates. Some are very mild and give rise to minimal downtime and only mild improvement while some are more aggressive and have more downtime, but also give produce better results.


The main benefits of these treatments include:
  • Improve the texture and tone of the skin
  • Diminish unwanted brown spots
  • Smooth wrinkles around the eyes and face
  • Rejuvenate your neck, chest and hands
  • Significantly improve acne scars

This is all done in a series of treatments with minimal downtime and risks.
How Fraxel Works
The concept of the laser is to create a series of vertical wounds in the skin separated by non-treated, uninjured skin. The best way to understand how fractional resurfacing works is to imagine what happens to a lawn it’s aerated. A similar process, on a microscopic scale, is done to the skin with fractional laser treatment. The laser creates small injuries the diameter of a hair shaft into the skin leaving normal, untreated skin in between. This untreated area heals the wound by removing the treated skin and replacing it with new healthy tissue. During each treatment only a fraction of the skin is treated. Both the Fraxel Repair and Fraxel Restore treatments may then be repeated three to five times at 3 to 5 week intervals, until the whole skin has been resurfaced.
The advantage of treating the skin this way is that there is less downtime and risk of adverse events while obtaining a significant clinical improvement. This process is specifically designed to give rise to smoother, clearer skin with minimal risks and down time. The other advantage of this approach is that, unlike the ablative resurfacing procedures, it is safe enough to treat areas off the face such as the neck, chest and hands.
In trying to correct sun damage, scars, and aging skin there is no such thing as a free lunch. Aggressive treatments usually produce the best results, removing the surface of the skin. These techniques, which include deep chemical peels, dermabrasion and ablative carbon dioxide and erbium lasers are often painful, have a prolonged down time and can have up to a 20% risk of scarring. Attempts to improve risk and downtime resulted in non-ablative lasers (which leave skin intact), intense pulsed lights, pulsed dye lasers, and infrared lasers with aggressive cooling. These improve age spotting and blood vessels with only limited improvement in lines and wrinkles. Hence the further development of laser, culminated in fractionated laser technology.
Fraxel Treatment
Prior to your Fraxel treatment your physician will let you know specifically what you need to do prior to treatment. Generally fraxel before and after photos will be taken of treatment so you may gauge improvement after your series of treatments are completed. An anesthetic cream will applied to the skin in the treatment area and left on between 45 minutes to an hour. Eye coverings are applied to protect the eyes from the laser light, and depending on the treatment. Fraxel treatment takes about 15 – 25 minutes. During the treatment cold air will be blown on the treatment area to help reduce the discomfort. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst, most patients rate the pain at a 4. Following treatment most patients feel a slight heat sensation, similar to a sunburn, for up to 90 minutes.

You should be given written instructions on how to take care of your skin by your doctor, but usually using cool compresses intermittently, sleeping with your head slightly elevated for the next day helps reduce the swelling. You may apply make up and sunscreen after
1 – 4 days. Most people are ready to go back to work in 2 – 7 days.
Fraxel Results
Generally patients will start to notice the effects after the second or third treatment. The improvement of the skin continues for 3 – 6 months after the treatment series has been completed. The most notable effects are the following:

Milder Fraxel Treatment:

* 20 – 40 % improvement in fine lines and wrinkles
* Improvement in overall texture and firmness
* Decrease in age spotting and discoloration
* 20 – 40 % improvement in acne scars

More Aggressive Fraxel Treatment:

* 30 – 70 % improvement in fine lines and wrinkles
* Improvement in overall texture and firmness
* Decrease in age spotting and discoloration
* 30 – 70 % improvement in acne scars

Fraxel Side Effects
The reported risks of long-term side effects or scarring are less than 1%. The scarring that may occur would be a discoloration of the skin or texture change, a bump or depression. In rare cases the development of an infection or flair of a cold sore that could lead to prolonged healing time and scarring is possible. Occasionally, a small blister or open area can develop which can be treated with the application of an antibiotic ointment. Patients prone to the development of cold sores should be pre-treated with antiviral medication.
Am I a candidate?
If you have sun damage, discoloration, fine to severe lines and wrinkles and or acne scarring this may be a good treatment for you.


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