As we age, damage from unprotected sun exposure can lead to sun damage and the formation of sun spots, also known as age spots, solar lesions, or liver spots. This type of hyperpigmentation is characterized by flat brown spots that form on areas of the body that are most often exposed to the sun, including the face, hands, arms, and shoulders. The discoloration is most common in patients over the age of 40. It can be a distressing sign of natural aging, fine lines, wrinkles, increased skin laxity, and uneven skin texture. Luckily, there are many treatment options for sun damage available at board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green’s New York City dermatology office, including Fraxel non-ablative laser skin resurfacing treatment, which treats age spots, freckles, uneven skin tone, and discoloration with minimal downtime.
In the past, laser skin resurfacing treatment could only be performed with an ablative laser, such as the CO2 laser, which was associated with significant downtime and a higher risk of severe side effects. However, the Fraxel Dual laser is a non-ablative fractional laser that gives patients dramatic results without significant recovery time. With two wavelengths available, 1927 nm and 1550 nm, the Fraxel Dual laser can address many cosmetic concerns, including sun damage, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone and texture, acne scarring, fine lines, wrinkles, surgical scars, and actinic keratosis. Treating sun spots requires as few as three sessions to provide patients with long-lasting results. Best for patients with Fitzpatrick skin types I through III, the anti-aging Fraxel laser provides patients with smooth, bright, clear, healthy skin. Patients need to seek treatment from an expert dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, for the best results.
Experienced board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green has been expertly treating patients at her Upper East Side New York City dermatologist office for more than 25 years. Dr. Green is an expert in many anti-aging cosmetic treatments, including chemical peels, Microneedling, microdermabrasion, and injectable treatments, such as Botox and dermal fillers. With treatments for many skin conditions available at her office and her proprietary skin care products, Dr. Green increases accessibility to a youthful-looking appearance for all her patients. Well-known for high patient satisfaction, Dr. Green has been frequently voted one of the best healthcare providers in New York City by such publications as Castle Connolly, New York Magazine, and Super Doctors.
How to treat sun-damaged skin with no downtime
Over time, repeated unprotected sun exposure can lead to sun damage, which can take the form of sun spots, freckles, uneven skin texture, and tone, or can trigger the worsening of melasma skin condition. The appearance of sun damage is most common in patients over the age of 40 and typically affects areas that are most frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms, shoulders, and hands. Sunspots are harmless and characterized by flat brown spots on the skin’s surface. However, if you notice new or changing brown spots on the skin, it is best to visit a dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, who can determine if the site is a sign of skin cancer. The best way to avoid sun-damaged skin is to take preventative measures, which include consistently applying sunscreen of at least SPF 30 when you are outside and reapplying every 90 minutes, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing, or staying indoors when the sun is at its most intense. If sun damage has already occurred, the Fraxel Dual laser for skin rejuvenation is one of the best treatment methods for sun spots and other forms of discoloration.
The Fraxel Dual laser is a fractional laser that removes sun spots by targeting a fraction of the skin. A non-ablative laser, the Fraxel Dual laser can emit two different wavelengths of light energy, causing controlled micro-wounds at the treated area, triggering the body’s natural healing process and boosting new collagen production. The Fraxel Dual laser is the first FDA-approved non-ablative laser that is approved for skin resurfacing and provides excellent, dramatic results with the need for only minimal downtime. Most patients will experience redness, swelling, and peeling for five to seven days post-treatment. Still, these common, mild side effects will subside naturally within a week, leaving patients with clear, youthful skin.
What is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)?
Intense Pulsed Light – or IPL – treatment can address various skin conditions, mainly discoloration or hyperpigmentation on the skin, by emitting different wavelengths of light at the treatment area. When the IPL device is applied to the skin, the light penetrates the dermis, the inner layer of the skin, and is absorbed by the pigmented cells, where the light energy is converted to heat energy. The heat causes controlled damage to the pigmented cells while leaving the surrounding skin cells and tissue undamaged, boosting the production of new collagen. As such, IPL treatment can effectively treat sun damage in the form of sun spots and freckles on the skin’s surface without downtime. IPL is a gentle treatment with little risk of significant side effects or skin irritation post-treatment.
Which laser treatment is best for sun damage?
Both Intense Pulsed Light and Fraxel skin resurfacing treatments can be used to address sun damage. Both are available at Dr. Green’s New York City dermatologist office, and neither is inherently “better.” Instead, it is about choosing the treatment option that will work best for your specific aesthetic goals and needs. The first step in determining the proper treatment for you is to make an appointment with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green. During your initial consultation, you will discuss your treatment goals and medical history, and Dr. Green will examine the treatment area to generate your treatment plan. IPL treatment is a gentler treatment that is best for patients with light skin and dark hyperpigmentation spots, while Fraxel treatment provides more dramatic results.
Does Fraxel laser remove sun damage?
Fraxel laser treatment is highly effective at removing sun damage in the form of sun spots, freckles, uneven skin tone, and discoloration. Typically, Dr. Green will turn to the Fraxel Dual laser for treating patients with a fractional laser with two wavelengths of light energy: 1927 nm and 1550 nm. The 1550 nm wavelength of light (known as the Erbium laser) is best for treating fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, and surgical scarring, while the 1927 nm wavelength (known as the Thulium laser) is most effective for treating pigmentation, such as sun damage. The Fraxel laser emits a column of fractionated light energy that targets a specific skin area, leaving the surrounding skin cells and tissue undamaged and unaffected. When using the Thulium laser (1927 nm wavelength), the light energy is absorbed by pigmented elements in the skin cells and converted into heat energy, which causes controlled damage at the treatment site. The micro-wounds generated by the laser boost new collagen production, which also helps to improve skin tone and texture over time.
The treatment begins with a consultation with Dr. Green, who will examine the area and create a treatment plan that best suits your needs. If Fraxel Dual laser treatment is a part of the plan, the appointment will begin with Dr. Green applying a topical numbing cream to the treatment area to decrease the risk of patient discomfort during the procedure. The treatment process typically does not take long – between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on the size and scope of the treatment area. Patients may feel a heating sensation on the skin, which will be minimized by the topical numbing cream and the cooling device built into the Fraxel laser. Following the procedure, patients should use gentle skincare products, such as a mild cleanser and moisturizer, to address skin irritation and peeling. Patients must also practice strict sun avoidance in the weeks following the procedure for the best results.
Which Fraxel laser is best for sun damage?
There are three main types of Fraxel lasers available – Fraxel Dual laser, Fraxel Repair, and Fraxel Restore – and Dr. Green typically turns to the Fraxel Dual laser for sun damage treatment. Fraxel Repair is an ablative CO2 fractional laser that destroys the outer layer of skin for full skin resurfacing and rejuvenation. While the results are dramatic and can be effectively used to treat sun spots and uneven skin texture, the ablative nature of the CO2 laser treatment means that there is significant downtime associated with treatment and a higher risk of infection and other significant side effects. On the other hand, Fraxel Restore is a gentle laser that uses a 1550 nm wavelength of light to specifically address mild to moderate skin conditions, such as fine lines, discoloration, and uneven skin tone and texture. While minimal downtime is associated with Fraxel Restore, the results are not as dramatic as other forms of Fraxel laser.
Therefore, Dr. Green typically uses Fraxel Dual laser for sun damage and for addressing many other skin conditions, such as fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, surgical scars, and actinic keratosis. The Fraxel Dual laser has two wavelengths of light energy: 1550 nm and 1927 nm. The 1550 nm wavelength, also called an Erbium laser, can treat the same skin conditions as the Fraxel Restore laser, including wrinkles, skin texture, and acne scarring. When treating sun damage, Dr. Green will turn to the other wavelength available on the Fraxel Dual laser: 1927 nm wavelength or the Thulium laser, which is most effective at treating various forms of hyperpigmentation and discoloration. Both wavelengths of light on the Fraxel Dual laser can be used during the same treatment session for full facial skin rejuvenation.
Can Fraxel reverse sun damage permanently?
Fraxel Dual laser skin resurfacing treatment is a long-lasting procedure that provides patients with dramatic results. Depending on the severity of the sun damage, patients will need a different number of treatment sessions, though typically, Dr. Green recommends three sessions spaced approximately one month apart. The Fraxel laser, by design, treats only a fraction of the skin at once, meaning that between 25-40% of the treatment area is treated per session. Initial treatment results will be visible within one week post-treatment as the redness and peeling fade, leaving patients with glowing, smooth skin. The results will improve over the next 3-6 months as collagen production continues in the treated area. Patients can help to maintain the treatment results by practicing strict sun avoidance after treatment. Dr. Green recommends that patients wear SPF 30 or higher sunscreen whenever they go outside and reapply every 90 minutes. Dr. Green may also recommend an annual touch-up treatment with the Clear + Brilliant laser to maintain treatment results.
Can you go in the sun after Fraxel?
Following the Fraxel laser procedure, Dr. Green will provide full aftercare instructions for patients to achieve the best results and avoid significant side effects. After the treatment, the skin is expected to feel warm, as if you have just gotten a sunburn. Redness, skin irritation, and peeling may occur for 5-7 days post-treatment, and Dr. Green advises patients to use gentle skincare products during this time. Most significantly, Dr. Green advises patients to practice strict sun avoidance in the months following Fraxel skin resurfacing treatment. Patients should apply an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen when going outside and reapply every 90 minutes. You can also stay inside when the sun is most intense: between 10 am and 2 pm.
How long after Fraxel can you go in the sun?
Following Fraxel laser treatment, patients should avoid direct, unprotected sun exposure for at least three months, as the new skin revealed in the treated area will be particularly photosensitive and more prone to sun damage. Exposing further skin post-treatment can worsen the already present discoloration, and there is a risk of additional sun damage. The treatment results can be maintained and improved for patients who practice strict sun avoidance, which can be done by wearing sunscreen whenever you are outside, reapplying every 90 minutes, wearing sun-protective clothing, and staying inside when the sun is most intense.
Can you travel after Fraxel?
One of the benefits of Fraxel Dual laser treatment is that there is minimal downtime associated with treatment. Most patients find their skin red, swollen, and peeling for 2-7 days post-treatment, but these side effects will go away independently, revealing new, clear, bright skin. An important consideration for patients planning to travel after receiving Fraxel laser treatment is that strict sun avoidance must be practiced for three months following the procedure. If you want to travel to a warm location and spend time in the sun, you will likely want to wait for some time after Fraxel treatment to ensure the best treatment results.
Can Fraxel damage your skin?
Patients sometimes ask, “Can the Fraxel laser damage skin?” The answer is that Fraxel laser treatment is a safe and effective treatment for sun damage with a low risk of causing lasting damage to your skin when performed correctly. Patients need to seek an expert dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, who is well-trained in performing Fraxel treatment safely. Dr. Green knows that Fraxel laser treatment is only safe for patients with lighter skin types and can cause lasting damage to patients with darker skin types. Luckily, many alternative treatments available at Dr. Green’s office are safe and effective for patients of darker skin types, including the Clear + Brilliant laser, eMatrix laser, and chemical peels.
How to get started with Fraxel laser treatment for sun-damaged skin today
Sun damage, characterized by brown spots on the skin’s surface due to unprotected exposure to the sun’s harmful UV Rays, can be a source of distress for patients. Typically appearing on areas of the body that are highly visible, including the face, hands, arms, and shoulders, sun spots are one of the tell-tale signs of the natural aging process, typically appearing in patients over 40. Sun damage will not disappear without cosmetic intervention. Still, luckily, there is a safe and effective treatment with minimal downtime available at Dr. Green’s New York City Dermatology office: The Fraxel Dual laser. Using precise, targeted beams of light, the Fraxel Dual laser targets and destroys pigmentation in the skin while leaving the surrounding tissue undamaged. The procedure is quick and easy to perform, with long-lasting results that can be visible for more than a year. If you struggle with stubborn evidence of sun-damage, Dr. Green is here to help.
Dr. Michele Green is an internationally renowned board-certified dermatologist with over two and a half decades of experience providing some of the world’s most discerning individuals with the best non-invasive cosmetic procedures, including Fraxel laser treatment. Dr. Green customizes each patients anti-aging treatment plan to best suit their particular skin concerns and personal aesthetic goals, providing optimal skin rejuvenation results with minimal downtime. She is consistently identified as one of New York’s best dermatologists by New York Magazine, Super Doctors, Castle Connolly, and the New York Times for her dedication to her patients and expertise. To learn more about eliminating the appearance of sun damage and the benefits of Fraxel Dual, schedule a consultation with Dr. Green today by calling the NYC dermatology office at 212-535-3088 or contacting us online.