Fractional laser skin resurfacing is a technology that involves a laser to improve skin texture. It can treat a number of dermatological and cosmetic skin conditions such as, acne scars, fine lines, sun damage and pre-cancerous skin conditions like actinic keratosis.
Naheed Abbasi, M.D., is a Summit Medical Group board-certified dermatologist and Fraxel expert. “The laser has specific wavelengths that are effective against pigment; effective against, wrinkles and fine lines, and by selectively heating or manipulating those targets is able to improve certain aspects of the skin, without damaging the skin as a whole,” says Dr. Abbasi.
“Due to advancements in laser technology, the e non-invasive Fraxel Laser doesn’t cause excessive sun damage to the skin like some types of treatments,” she notes, “allowing for fast healing. Noticeable positive results can be achieved relatively quickly with minimal side effects, discomfort and downtime.”
The number of treatments required to improve a particular problem in the skin can vary from as few as one to as many as six, depending on the problem being addressed. For example, superficial sun damage and brown spots can improve with as few as one or two treatments.
However, acne scaring will typically require more sessions, anywhere from three to six and the treatments are anywhere from four to six weeks apart and can be done over a period of four to twelve months.
The Fraxel laser can be used over the entire body. There is no limit to the number of treatments that a patient can get in one area, but often the results plateau after a certain point.
Patients typically experience pain with the Fraxel and we tell them to expect that,” advises Dr. Abbasi. “Patients find it uncomfortable, but no one finds it so uncomfortable that he or she is unable to sit through it. And fortunately, as soon as the treatment is over the pain is immediately diminished and patients leave within about fifteen minutes of the procedure feeling entirely comfortable.”
Downtime is typical and lasts anywhere from two to seven days, but is very variable by patient and by treatment itself. Dr. Abbasi explains to her patients to expect anywhere from two to four days of recovery time during which he/she might feel entirely normal, but maybe a little pinker and more swollen than is their baseline. And this improves day by day, very predictably.
Results last a variable amount of time depending on the problem being treated. For acne scarring the results can be permanent since the collagen remodeling can last for decades.
In contrast for sun damage the results are often more intermediate since brown spots and wrinkles appear with time even despite treatment on any given, at any given time, such that patients will often start to develop new fine lines or new brown spots months or years after the treatment that require another round of treatment if they so choose.
However, one can expect the results to last a minimum of many months and often many years.