This is truly an amazing laser. Fraxel laser has FDA approval to treat sun-damaged skin, acne scarring (acne), melasma, unwanted brown spots on the face, hands, arms, neck, and chest. Fraxel laser (fraxel) has also been proven to be very effective for the treatment of scars and stretch marks.
To make a significant and permanent improvement in the appearance of the skin, a deep treatment into the dermis is preferable. In the past, the only way to effectively address the deeper layers of the skin (the dermis), was to first remove the surface of the skin (the epidermis) and then continue lasering deeper into the dermis. This is called resurfacing because it removes the entire surface of the skin in order to then penetrate to the level of the dermis. As you might imagine, this treatment has the potential for serious scarring, permanent discoloration of the skin, an extended downtime and lots of discomfort.
Though an admittedly crude analogy, the way Fraxel laser works is somewhat similar to the method for aerating a lawn. Instead of stripping away the entire epidermis like the older resurfacing lasers, the Fraxel creates a series of fractionated (hence the name, Fraxel), microscopic laser “holes” in the epidermis that penetrate to the level of the dermis. A treatment with the Fraxel leaves much of the epidermis intact. This facilitates much faster healing, dramatically diminishes risks and complications, but still addresses the need to treat the dermis to achieve significant results.
These “holes” are technically known as microthermal zones (MTZs). These MTZs are essentially tiny vertical columns of epidermis and underlying dermis that have been treated with the laser. The depth and density of the MTZs can be adjusted by the physician according to the condition being treated, the degree of skin pigmentation, and the duration of downtime that the patient can accept.
The treatment is mildly painful. To minimize patient discomfort, High Desert Dermatology uses a very powerful topical numbing cream that is applied an hour before the treatment. We also offer the option of an oral prescription medication to help the patient relax during the procedure.
What To Expect
After the treatment, the patient can expect a moderate degree of swelling and redness of the treated areas for 3-4 days. There is an additional 3-day period with a moderate degree of skin scaling and flaking. About a week after a Fraxel laser treatment, the affected area is usually a bit pink for a week or two before returning to normal skin color.
Depending on the condition being treated, High Desert dermatologists usually advise 3 to 4 treatments each, separated by 3 to 4 weeks.
Minimal Side Effects
Complications are rare, but include mild to moderate discomfort during the treatment. Some patients have mild soreness of the treated area for up to 24 hours. There is a slight chance of developing an acne-like rash during the healing phase, but we ordinarily prescribe a short course of an oral acne medication to prevent this occurrence. Unwanted pigmentation change of the treated area is a very rare complication.
At High Desert Dermatology, prices are dependent on the size of the region being treated. Please contact us with any questions about Fraxel laser treatments.