Fraxel

Fraxel is a non-invasive, microscopic laser that penetrates your skin to encourage new collagen and elastin growth. Translation: It smooths wrinkles and scars, fades brown spots, and basically resurfaces your entire skin tone. Unlike really aggressive lasers, Fraxel is a fractional skin resurfacing treatment, which means it only targets a fraction (fraction, Fraxel—get it?) of the skin at a time.

What does Fraxel do?

The Fraxel Dual laser uses two wavelengths (1550 and 1927, if you wanna get specific) to address different skin concerns on the face, neck, chest, hands, legs—just about anywhere, With the 1927 wavelength, you can lift away discoloration (hyperpigmentation, age spots, sun damage and pre-cancer spots), while the 1550 wavelength is designed to target and smooth your skin’s texture (fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scarring).

Is the Fraxel laser safe?

The laser is safe for all skin tones, it might not be the best choice for anyone with melasma (a complex form of hyperpigmentation), since melasma can worsen under the effects of a Fraxel laser. For these patients, she recommends an even less aggressive laser called Clear + Brilliant. Of course, your dermatologist will let you know whether or not your skin can handle the laser, so definitely schedule a consultation regardless.

How should you prepare for a Fraxel laser treatment?

Luckily, this treatment is a pretty low-maintenance…at least, beforehand (more on the aftermath later). We tell patients to stop using any retinoids, peels, acids, or products that can cause skin sensitivity for a full a week before your treatment. But on the day of, you can show up for your appointment however you want (if you’re wearing makeup, they’ll wipe it off for you).

Note: If you’re in the middle of a really intense breakout, your dermatologist may want to postpone until your zits have calmed down, so let the office know ahead of time if you find yourself in an acne showdown.

How long does a Fraxel treatment take?

The laser treatment itself is relatively quick—about 15 to 25 minutes—but you should expect to factor in at least another 45 minutes for the topical anesthesia (numbing cream) to kick in before getting started.

Is the Fraxel laser painful?

Listen, lasers don’t exactly feel great, but since you’ll be numbed up beforehand, we say you’ll likely only feel a little stinging. Of course, pain tolerance is subjective, and many people consider Fraxel to be quite intense and painful (some describe it as being stung by bees or feeling like your face is straight-up burning), even with the numbing cream.

How long does it take for the skin to heal after a Fraxel treatment?

The downtime to Fraxel is typically a week. During the first two days, you can expect redness, throbbing, and swelling (like a sunburn), then between days three to five, your skin will start to roughen up and peel. As tempting as it is to pick at the flakes, resist the urge and allow your skin to heal on its own or you’ll risk scarring. And, as a note, the chest usually takes a little bit longer to recover, so don’t be alarmed if the process seems slow.

How long do the results from Fraxel last?

How long the results last depends on the patient’s hair color, eye color, and complexion (discoloration tends to return sooner on patients with blonde or red hair than on someone with darker hair). On average, though, the results of a Fraxel treatment last at least a year, but it varies wildly from patient to patient.

How many sessions of Fraxel are needed?

With the 1927 wavelength (the one used for fading pigment), one treatment can decrease 80 percent of the discoloration. We say you might need a touch-up with a Clear + Brilliant laser four to six months later, but usually one Fraxel session is enough to last you the year. With the 1550 wavelength (the one for smoothing texture), you usually need three to five treatments spaced four weeks apart.

What should I do after the Fraxel laser treatment?

Fraxel: a great treatment for your skin and a great excuse not to go to the gym for that first week. Immediately following the treatment, your face might feel hot or inflamed, which means working out would only make that worse. And as good as it might sound, We stress that you shouldn’t try to cool your skin with an ice pack, which could cause an ice burn on top of everything else.

If you desperately need to put something on your face to alleviate some of the heat, we recommend making a 50/50 mixture of whole milk (because the lactic acid and fat help heal the skin) and ice water (because it’s naturally soothing). Dip a washcloth in the milky water and use it as a compress to cool yourself down.

Should you wash your face after Fraxel?

We recommend washing your face twice a day during recovery to keep the area clean and making sure to only use a gentle cleanser (that means absolutely no chemical or physical exfoliators). In the morning, she also suggests applying a vitamin C serum, which will penetrate the skin even better after a treatment and following it up with a lightweight moisturizer three to four times a day. Note that she said lightweight. You may want to load up on a thick, emollient cream, but those can actually clog your vulnerable skin and cause milia. Try one of these light, gentle formulas instead:

Can you wear makeup after Fraxel?

If redness, peeling skin, and dark flakes is something you’d rather not deal with publicly, plan your appointment during a week when you can afford to take some time off, because makeup is a no-go. During those few days of healing, avoid putting any products on your face that aren’t face wash, vitamin C serum, or light moisturizer.

Can you go in the sun after Fraxel?

Once you get a Fraxel treatment, it’s SPF 30, a hat, and the shade for you (but you already do that anyway, right??). Not only will your new skin be more vulnerable to the sun, but you’ll also want to stay covered to prevent the pigment from coming right back. Two grand is way too much $ just to waste on a day in the sun, unless you are literally made of money. And in that case, can I have some?

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