Some patients don’t share the details of their cosmetic treatments, not because they’re displeased, but because they don’t want anyone knowing they had “work done.” But Fraxel laser is different; patients often love talking about it because the effects are nothing short of transformative. At Perfect Skin Center in Tempe and Scottsdale, AZ, we know because we see it for ourselves in patients who look younger and more rejuvenated.
How Many Fraxel Laser Sessions Do You Need?
Most people choose laser treatments to address the following three concerns: sun damage, wrinkles, and acne scars. Lasers can effectively treat many other concerns, but these are the three most popular. The Fraxel laser is particularly effective because it penetrates well below the skin’s surface; the underlying tissues are then broken up in a way that:
- Improves skin clarity
- Reduces blotchy coloring
- Firms and tightens some looseness
- Restores natural contours
To achieve these effects, most patients need three to five treatments each spaced four weeks apart. Of course, this timeline depends on the exact concern you want to address. Hyperpigmentation, for instance, can usually be corrected in one or two sessions. Wrinkles and acne scars need more treatments and therefore require three to five sessions. And patients with photodamage will need to space their sessions six to eight weeks apart.
Why It’s Important to Space Your Sessions
This treatment creates controlled “hot” zones deep in your skin that then need to be repaired. Your body responds by sloughing away old, tired cells and replacing them with those that are new, fresh, and healthy. Each treatment replaces between 15 and 20% of old skin, whether it’s sun-damaged, scarred, or wrinkled. Cumulative treatments, therefore, create cumulative effects.
It is between each session that your skin heals. Giving your body the time it needs to eliminate old skin cells and push new ones to the surface makes for a completely safe treatment. It also ensures those new cells do not sustain any damage that would hinder the beneficial effects of treatment.
Increased Collagen Production
To give you an appearance that is truly more refined, the laser spurs the creation of new skin cells and also ramps up the body’s production of collagen. This protein gives skin its plump, youthful look. More specifically, collagen:
- Improves skin elasticity by igniting the production of elastin
- Reduces visible wrinkles
- Increases blood flow to give skin crucial nutrients
- Forms the foundation that keeps skin from sagging
Collagen also plays a critical role in wound healing, thanks to its chemotactic nature. This refers to its quick synthesis following a chemical stimulus; collagen is attracted by different stimuli to a skin injury. Once at the site, this protein supports new tissue formation, natural wound cleansing, new blood vessel formation, and overall healing.
How This Laser Differ From Others
We can start this discussion by saying it doesn’t damage healthy skin tissues surrounding the treatment site. It also leaves the top layer of your skin intact, unlike traditional skin resurfacing techniques that blast away surface cells. The results from traditional lasers can be quite dramatic as they help to refresh your entire appearance; they also, however, require weeks of downtime as your skin peels and heals.
More Effective Than Other Laser Treatments
Because it doesn’t work on your skin’s surface, the Fraxel laser is described as non-ablative. But it’s not the only non-ablative treatment available. Many lasers in fact fall under this label, but they don’t provide the broad results Fraxel does. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), for instance, is ideal for reducing the appearance of broken blood vessels visible on your skin’s surface, but it doesn’t treat common signs of aging like wrinkles and lines.
Fraxel, on the other hand, treats a wide range of concerns, including:
- Sun damage
- Fine wrinkles
- Acne and surgical scars
- Certain cases of melasma
- Fine lines around the eyes and lips
- Rough skin texture
- Uneven tone
- Precancerous skin lesions
After treatment with a traditional laser, a crust forms over the top layer of skin and then flakes off. It may scab before healing, and you may need to apply petroleum jelly or another thick emollient to protect it. This whole healing process can take weeks.
While some recovery is necessary with Fraxel treatments, the downtime isn’t nearly as lengthy. The side effects are also minimal, especially compared to other lasers. Most patients start to see results in about a week; your skin will look more even, feel smoother, and radiate a healthy glow.
The Insider Information You Need
At this point, you might be wondering what Fraxel is. We can describe it as a non-invasive, microscopic laser used to target areas of concern on your face. It only treats a fraction of skin at a time – hence its name – and uses two different wavelengths to address different concerns. One wavelength helps erase discoloration, such as age spots, sun damage, and pre-cancer spots, while the other smooths skin’s texture to eliminate scars, wrinkles, and fine lines.
Most patients request this treatment for their face, but the Fraxel is also ideal for your legs, hands, chest, and neck. It can actually be used almost anywhere, and thanks to its gentle design, it’s safe for all skin tones.
A Few Exceptions
But it may not be suitable for those with melasma, a complex type of hyperpigmentation that may grow worse with laser. It’s also not suitable for those with active breakouts; if you wake on the day of your appointment to a showdown with acne, call our office to reschedule.
Preparing for Treatment
You won’t need to do much in preparing for Fraxel. It’s a relatively low-maintenance treatment, but you should plan on arriving for your appointment with a clean face. We also recommend a few universal precautions for all patients:
- Stop using products that increase skin sensitivity for about a week before your session
- Quit smoking
- Stay out of the sun
- Skip the waxing sessions
Your Recovery Period
You should also prepare for the recovery period that will follow treatment. For instance, taking a few days off work is a good idea while your skin heals. Any discomfort you might experience will be mild, but not having to deal with the pressures of work will make for a less stressful recovery.
You should also complete as many errands or chores as possible before treatment. This will allow you to go home and rest, rather than worry about housework and making dinner. Finally, arranging for a friend or family member to drive you to and from your appointment isn’t a bad idea. You won’t be given a sedative with treatment, but having a companion who can drive means you get to relax while in the car.
Treatment is pretty quick and can usually be done in under 30 minutes. But the actual session takes a little longer so the numbing cream we apply to the treatment site can first go to work. In short, we’ll start by cleansing, followed by the numbing agent, and then waiting. In the meantime, you can read, relax, or listen to music.
We’ll start treatment after you’re numb. Most patients tell us this is pretty easy to get through. Once we’re finished, you’re free to go and, as we said earlier, can arrange to have someone with you or simply drive yourself.
Caring for Your Skin After
One of the most important ways you can care for your skin after treatment is by using ample amounts of sunscreen. You should apply this every day, and you can further protect your skin by wearing a wide brim hat before going outside. Also, wash with a gentle cleanser twice daily and moisturize with a rich, nourishing cream.
Avoid picking and peeling your skin at all costs; this only extends the time it takes you to heal. Skip the gym for about a week, don’t apply makeup, and steer clear of exfoliation. You can also apply a homemade compress of equal parts whole milk and ice water if your face feels warm. This simple mixture will sink into the channels made by treatment and help calm your skin.
More Important Details
Fall and winter are the best times of year to have Fraxel treatment. You’re less likely to get the intense sun exposure that can damage new skin, and by the time summer rolls around, your appearance will be fully rejuvenated.
This treatment is so effective at shrinking pores, plumping the skin, and smoothing wrinkles that most healthcare providers consider it their number one treatment for anti-aging needs. It’s unique in that it can do a little bit of everything, meaning you can achieve broad results with or without combining treatments. Maintenance sessions performed once or twice a year can give your results staying power.
Extend Your Results
Speaking of your results, you can extend the youthful look Fraxel provides with a well-planned skincare regimen. Products that contain vitamin C are great for anti-aging, while using retinol at night will further increase collagen production.
It’s equally important to drink plenty of water each day. You’ve heard it before, but water is like the proverbial fountain of youth. It helps keep skin plump, nourished, and moisturized. Trying to skimp on this is like trying to go without oxygen.
An Invisible Benefit
One important outcome you won’t necessarily see is the repair of sun damage lurking beneath your skin’s surface. It could eventually make itself known, if left untreated, but Fraxel can repair it so that it stays hidden. This laser even has the proven ability to reduce your risk of non-melanoma sun damage. If we catch these cells early, we can zap them before they become problematic.
The Fraxel laser is designed to create tiny holes in the skin while also leaving small islands of healthy skin in between, as explained earlier. This creates a matrix of treated skin next to untreated skin to speed healing. You also enjoy less downtime and completely remodeled skin.
Treatment Can Start At Anytime
Fraxel can be started in your early twenties or later in life, depending on your aesthetic goals. It’s a preventative treatment for fine lines because it stimulates collagen synthesis, but it can also reverse the effects of sun damage and collagen loss. Keep in mind the one thing it cannot do is clear the acne you currently have.
The All-In-One Laser
Fraxel laser is a workhorse that can deliver any number of benefits to your skin. From removing sunspots and erasing wrinkles to clearing scars and improving smoothness, this treatment will allow you to look and feel younger, with only minimal downtime. Schedule your consultation today by calling Perfect Skin Center in Tempe and Scottsdale, AZ today!