The Fraxel laser is a form of facial rejuvenation treatment using new age Fractional technology. The Fraxel laser is an aesthetic treatment laser device used to treat a variety of skin textural problems, ranging from sun damage to acne scars, fine lines around the mouth and eyes and even stretch marks and Fraxel Sydney has become a highly popular treatment. Whilst there are now many different forms of Fractional Laser Treatments and the technology has evolved a fair bit since the first Fraxel treatment was performed, the first version was created by Solta Medical – a company involved in the research and development of skin care and aesthetic laser devices utlising the core principle of selective photothermolysis.
Selecting a Fraxel Sydney treatment: the options.
Anyone considering treatment with the Fraxel treatment is strongly advised to have a thorough conversation with their skin care professional, as advertising claims for these treatments can sometimes mislead people into believing that the results will compare to real face lift surgery, they will not. At a bare minimum, laser skin resurfacing is as invasive as a chemical peel; at its worst, a laser facial can have some side effects that include burning and blistering, albeit very rare. As you consider whether laser skin resurfacing is right for you, also keep in mind that this Solta Medical brand includes three devices:
- Fraxel Repair: an aggressive treatment for wrinkles and scar damage;
- Fraxel Refine: to reduce the appearance of fine lines and improve poor skin texture; and
- Fraxel Restore: a non-ablative treatment for Melasma and sun spots on skin.
In order to treat a greater variety of conditions, Solta Medical developed several devices under the Fraxel brand, with each having unique treatment options. One of the most useful ways to look at these models is to understand what they were designed to do, and how much skin damage they cause in the process.
Fraxel Repair is a powerful laser that delivers the most intense treatment by removing microscopic amounts of skin from various skin layers. The micro wounds closer to the surface are meant to remove cells with pigmentation issues, whilst the deeper wounds help stimulate collagen production and tighten skin over time. Solta Medical suggests that the results from Fraxel Repair take approximately three to six months to reach their full potential. Although, because this treatment is so intense, only one procedure may be needed to show improvement, especially in patients with mild skin problems.
The Fraxel Restore technology focuses on treating sun damaged skin by stimulating collagen production in the dermis. The laser delivers powerful bursts of light to these layers but is considered a non-ablative laser, because it doesn’t completely destroy skin cells. This, however, may not be a viable solution for everyone because Fraxel Restore is not meant for deep wrinkles and sagging skin.
Unlike the Fraxel Repair procedure, the Restore treatment will need to be repeated at least three times to show significant results. It is simply not aggressive enough and is meant for patients who cannot take time off work to recover and properly care for their skin. Usually, the best results from Fraxel Restore will be visible within two to three months after treatment, and will likely need to be repeated every six to twelve months.
After undergoing the Fraxel Restore treatment, it is common to experience dry flaky skin on face, as the damaged skin layers begin to peel away. It is advisable to use copious amounts of sunscreen during this time to prevent further damage while the body’s natural UV radiation defenses are weak. This should be continued for at least three months after undergoing Fraxel Restore, which can be simplified by purchasing a facial moisturizer with sunscreen built in.
The third device in the product line was designed as an upkeep option. The Fraxel Refine is most commonly used to create a smoother skin texture, get rid of fine under eye wrinkles, and remove brown spots on face. This treatment will need to be completed up to six times for best results, and the most significant improvements will not be visible for at least two months, as the dermis replenishes collagen fibres to tighten skin. Fraxel Refine is considered to be the least invasive of the three lasers, and delivers results slower than the aggressive Fraxel Repair treatment.
During the Fraxel Laser Treatment
If you choose to get a Fraxel laser treatment, set aside at least an hour to spend at your dermatologist’s office. First, your face will have to be cleansed, and treated with a topical numbing agent about an hour and a half before the procedure. The procedure itself should last about half an hour, depending on the skin area being treated.
The painfulness of the treatment often differs based on the person, but patients have reported discomfort, stinging and burning sensations during Fraxel laser treatments. Afterwards, you will need to follow special care instructions as your face heals for several days. In the case of Fraxel Repair, you may need to stay out of sunlight for the first day or two, as this is the most dangerous time for the skin to sustain damage.
How Laser Skin Resurfacing Works
At first, the details of how a laser works may seem confusing, but the concept behind the various Fraxel technologies is rather simple. Our skin cells contain quite a bit of water, which can quickly heat up by absorbing certain wavelengths of light. If you shine a focused light beam onto a skin cell, such as that of the Fraxel laser, the absorption of the light by the water causes the cells to either vaporise (this is called an ablative laser), or heat up just enough to cause cell damage and stimulate the body to replace it with healthy skin (the non-ablative laser). The ablative laser is the more intensive form of treatment, and causes damage not just by vaporising cells, but by dissipating excessive heat to surrounding tissue, exacerbating the side effects, and contributing to the need for significant after care.
If you wanted to really simplify it, you could think of getting a Fraxel laser treatment like taking a magnifying loupe and focusing the sunlight on a patch of skin. You would quickly feel the heat, and could easily burn yourself if you leave the focused beam on the skin for too long. Of course the Fraxel treatment is more complicated than that, and uses precise light wave lengths, but the basic idea is similar. Whatever you do, please don’t spend your next weekend in the back yard, pointing a magnifying glass at your face – nothing good will come of it.
Ablative vs. Non-Ablative Lasers
Whether you are considering Fraxel or some other laser treatment, the distinction behind the ablative and non-ablative options is an important one. The ablative devices, like CO2 laser models, cause significant amounts of damage to the skin. They are very intense and the early models removed entire layers of upper skin cells, creating large surface wounds that made recovery time a major drawback. Before Fraxel and other fractional laser technologies, the after care for ablative skin resurfacing could take several weeks, and even required patients to take time off work.
The aggressiveness of ablative laser treatments makes them more suitable for the treatment of surface skin problems like scars, pigmentation issues, low-to-medium wrinkles, and sunspot on skin. By removing the entire upper skin layer, these Fraxel predecessors significantly accelerated the natural skin rejuvenation process, and after several treatments were able to cycle all the damaged cells from the surface. The Fraxel Repair laser, for example, is an ablative approach, but uses fractional technology to somewhat reduce recovery time (discussed later).
Non-ablative laser treatments work mostly on the deeper layers of the skin, like the dermis, and deliver heat for the purposes of stimulating collagen growth, rather than completely vaporising damaged cells. Fraxel Restore and Fraxel Refine are considered to be non-ablative models, and because they cause less damage, they also require more follow up treatments.
The Fractional Approach
The various Fraxel devices are CO2 lasers, and use a series of reflective technologies to amplify the energy of the beam to the point where it can be used to treat skin. But what makes Fraxel different from earlier CO2 models the way in which light energy is delivered. With the idea of minimising skin damage, the laser beam is separated into shorter bursts, or “packets,” of energy that only damage some parts of the treatment area, leaving more tissue untouched. This pattern of micro damage dots directly helps remove old skin cells, and shortens healing time.
The other aspect of the Fraxel laser is its believed ability to stimulate collagen production. The device does so by sending some of the energy “packets” deeper into the skin, where the heat and coagulation of tissues can stimulate collagen rejuvenation in the dermis. Solta Medical built this ability into the Fraxel lasers to improve wrinkle treatment results, as the strengthened collagen fibres tighten skin from beneath, to complement the resurfacing effect in the epidermis.
Serious Side Effects of Fraxel Laser Resurfacing
Like any medical treatment, Fraxel laser resurfacing technologies carries a risk of side effects and it’s important that we inform our patients about this. In addition to the usual symptoms of redness and swelling, Fraxel Repair can cause oozing and crusting of the skin in rare circumstances. Whilst very unlikely, this can lead to permanent scarring if proper protocol adherence is not followed (like staying out of the sun). In some cases, the micro damage caused by the Fraxel Repair laser can lead to infection, which would likely require a course of antibiotics to address.
The Fraxel Restore laser also has a set of serious side effects, like blistering of the skin and the development of scars after treatment. In some cases, this laser can lead to herpes reactivation in people who are carriers of the disease. This would develop as a herpes breakout, with the accompanying blistering and need for topical antiviral medication. With the Fraxel Refine, the side effects are similar, with the development of acne, permanent scars, and infection all being potential dangers. For this reason extra diligence must be taken when choosing a Fraxel Sydney provider.
At Advanced Dermatology we specialise in the latest Fractional laser technologies. Please contact our friendly team if you require more information about our treatments.
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