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How Fraxel Laser Treatment Works

As we age, the production of the structural proteins collagen and elastin decreases, leading to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, increased skin laxity, and uneven skin texture. Other marks of time can affect the skin’s surface, including sun damage in youth, which can contribute to the appearance of pigmentation in the form of sun spots and age spots, acne scars on the face, stretch marks, and other forms of scarring. While wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and scarring are normal parts of life, many patients are interested in a laser skin resurfacing treatment option that will provide them with smoother, clearer, more youthful-looking skin. For a long time, the only laser technology available for skin resurfacing was ablative laser technology, which uses laser energy to remove the top layers of the skin but can be painful and require significant recovery time. Luckily, there is a non-ablative laser resurfacing treatment option available at expert dermatologist Dr. Michele Green’s New York City office: The Fraxel laser.

Fraxel laser treatment is a fractional laser that uses different wavelengths of laser light energy to address a wide variety of skin concerns, including uneven skin tone and texture, hyperpigmentation, brown spots, acne scars, fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, stretch marks, and Actinic Keratosis. By emitting targeted beams of light, the Fraxel laser creates controlled micro-wounds that trigger the body’s natural healing process, which increases new skin cells and new collagen production for smooth, clear, healthy skin. Unlike ablative laser resurfacing, which can cause significant discomfort in the treatment area and require significant recovery time, the Fraxel laser provides patients with dramatic results with only minimal downtime. Additionally, the Fraxel fractional laser allows for precise bursts of laser energy, creating controlled damaged tissue only in the treated area, leaving the surrounding skin unharmed. The best way to begin your Fraxel laser skin resurfacing treatment process is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Michele Green, who will generate the treatment plan that will meet your needs.

Experienced board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green has been expertly treating patients at her Upper East Side New York City dermatology office for more than 25 years. An expert in addressing a wide range of skin conditions and cosmetic concerns, Dr. Green often combines treatment options to meet your aesthetic goals best. At Dr. Green’s dermatology office, patients know they can receive the best treatment options with Botox, dermal fillers, microneedling, chemical peels, laser treatments, and more. For daily skin rejuvenation, Dr. Green also has a proprietary line of skincare products, MGSKINLABs. Well-known for high patient satisfaction, Dr. Green has been voted one of the best dermatologists by such publications as Castle Connolly, Super Doctors, and New York Magazine.

What is Fraxel Laser Treatment for skin resurfacing?

Fraxel laser treatment uses fractional laser technology to provide patients with smooth, clear, rejuvenated skin. The Fraxel laser is distinct from other types of lasers used for skin resurfacing in that It is a non-ablative laser, meaning that it does not remove skin cells to create the resurfacing effect. Rather, the Fraxel laser employs beams of light to cause controlled damage to the skin, boosting new collagen production and promoting skin cell turnover. Ablative lasers, such as the CO2 laser, can provide patients with dramatic results by removing the outer layer of skin (epidermis) to promote skin cell turnover. However, ablative lasers come with more pain during the procedure, longer recovery time, and a higher risk of side effects, such as discomfort, redness, scabbing, and infection. Fraxel, on the other hand, does not require any downtime following the procedure, providing patients with similar skin resurfacing results.

fraxel juvederm before after 1 female 28 MGwatermark

What is Fraxel laser treatment used for?

The Fraxel laser can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including:

  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Uneven skin texture
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Hyperpigmentation caused by unprotected sun exposure (age spots, brown spots)
  • Acne scars
  • Surgical scars and injury scars
  • Actinic keratosis
  • Enlarged pores
  • Stretch marks

Fraxel laser treatment can address skin concerns on the face, neck, chest, shoulders, and back. With multiple wavelengths of laser energy, the Fraxel laser can address a wide range of skin concerns.

How does the Fraxel laser work?

The Fraxel laser is a non-ablative treatment option that uses fractional laser energy to address skin concerns, such as hyperpigmentation, fine lines, uneven skin texture, scarring, and enlarged pores. The device emits concentrated laser energy that penetrates the top layer of skin to cause microscopic damage in the treated area while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. The controlled damage triggers the body’s natural healing process, which boosts natural collagen production and skin cell turnover. Over time, the new collagen production creates smoother, more evenly textured skin, reduces hyperpigmentation, and provides patients with a healthier, more youthful look.

The procedure for Fraxel laser treatment is relatively quick and requires minimal discomfort. The treatment process will begin with a consultation appointment with Dr. Green, who will examine the treatment area and discuss your aesthetic goals to determine the treatment plan that will best meet your needs. If Fraxel is a part of your treatment plan, the procedure will take place that day (if there is time), or you will schedule a follow-up appointment to receive the Fraxel laser treatment. An hour before your appointment, Dr. Green will ask you to apply a topical numbing cream to the area of the body being treated. This will prevent discomfort during the procedure itself. Fraxel laser treatment usually takes between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on the area of the body being treated. Immediately following the procedure, your skin may feel as though you have just experienced a sunburn. To help, Dr. Green will apply a cold compress to the treated area. Following the procedure, there is no downtime required and you can immediately return to your regularly scheduled activities.

What is the Fraxel Dual laser?

The Fraxel Dual laser has two different wavelengths available on one device, making it essentially two lasers in one and allowing it to address a wide variety of skin concerns. The 1927 nm wavelength — essentially a Thulium laser — can be used to treat forms of pigmentation, including sun spots, brown spots, hyperpigmentation, and other forms of sun damage that occur when you do not apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher when you go outside. The 1927 nm wavelength of laser energy targets specific areas of pigmentation within the skin, causing controlled damage and reducing the appearance of the pigmentation there. The other setting is the 1550 nm wavelength — essentially an Erbium laser — that can be used to improve skin tone, skin texture, fine lines, wrinkles, and scarring. The 1550 nm wavelength can penetrate the deeper layers of the skin to boost new collagen production and rejuvenate the skin.

How much downtime is necessary after Fraxel laser treatment?

Unlike ablative lasers, the Fraxel laser does not require any downtime following the procedure. Patients may experience some minor redness and swelling, which will subside within a couple of days. In the weeks after the procedure, Dr. Green recommends that patients avoid harsh skincare products, such as exfoliants, retinoids, hydroquinone, AHAs, and BHAs, as these can irritate the newly treated skin. Patients may experience some peeling skin but should not pick at it, as this can interfere with the healing process. Instead, patients should clean the skin with a gentle cleanser and moisturize with a light moisturizer twice daily. Strict sun avoidance is necessary after the Fraxel laser treatment.

SG 51 year old before After Fraxel and Botox MGWatermark

Are there any side effects of Fraxel laser treatment?

Since Fraxel laser treatment is non-ablative, there is a much lower risk of serious side effects like infection, bleeding, scarring, and pain following the procedure. Patients will likely experience minor side effects from Fraxel laser treatment, such as redness and swelling in the treated area for 48 hours post-treatment and peeling skin for 5-7 days. While the Fraxel laser typically does not result in serious side effects, it is not safe for patients with darker skin types. Using the Fraxel laser on darker skin types, such as type V skin type, can result in hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. Instead, Dr. Green will turn to the eMatrix laser, which is safe for all skin types and provides a similar skin resurfacing effect.

How long after Fraxel can you work out?

Following the Fraxel laser treatment, Dr. Green recommends that patients avoid strenuous workouts for 48 hours. After the procedure, Dr. Green’s office will provide patients with specific aftercare instructions. In addition to avoiding strenuous workouts, Dr. Green also advises patients to practice strict sun avoidance by staying inside between 10 am and 2 pm and always applying sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher before going outside.

How long does Fraxel last?

Fraxel laser resurfacing is a long-lasting treatment option for a range of skin concerns, including fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, scarring, stretch marks, and enlarged pores. Since the treatment triggers the body’s natural collagen production, which improves skin tone and texture over time, it can take between three and six months for patients to see the full results of the treatment. When it comes to treating hyperpigmentation, Fraxel laser treatment can last for years as long as no new sun damage occurs. For treating other signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles, Fraxel laser treatment can last for a year before patients require a touch-up appointment.

IK 28 yo female Before & After 6 Fraxel Treatments LEFT MGWatermark

How long can you wait between Fraxel treatments?

Typically, patients require between three treatment sessions spaced one month apart to achieve optimal results. If you are experiencing extensive sun damage and hyperpigmentation, you will likely require more treatment sessions. At each appointment, the Fraxel laser can treat approximately 25% of the affected area. After each appointment, patients will see results that continue to improve over time. Acne scars typically require more treatments with the Fraxel laser, and Dr. Green often combines dermal fillers and PRP with Fraxel for the best cosmetic results.

Will Fraxel work for skin tightening?

The Fraxel laser can address many skin concerns by causing controlled damage to the tissue, which boosts collagen production over time. While this can help to tighten the skin somewhat, Fraxel is not the best treatment option for skin tightening. Instead, Dr. Green will turn to Thermage radiofrequency laser treatment, which is often considered the Gold Standard for skin tightening. Fraxel skin resurfacing and Thermage skin tightening treatment can be paired together for even more dramatic anti-aging results.

Will Fraxel work for wrinkles?

Yes. The Fraxel laser treatment is an effective treatment for addressing wrinkles on the face and body. To treat wrinkles, Dr. Green will utilize the 1550 nm wavelength, which improves skin texture and tone, fine lines, wrinkles, and scarring. If wrinkles are caused by the repetitive movement of muscles in the face, such as crow’s feet, forehead lines, and glabellar lines, Dr. Green may turn to Botox, which freezes the muscles, causing dynamic wrinkles to smooth out. For full facial rejuvenation, Dr. Green may pair the Fraxel laser with Botox treatment.

Will Fraxel work on stretch marks?

Stretch marks are a type of scar that occurs when the skin stretches too quickly from rapid weight gain, weight loss, or pregnancy. While stretch marks are very common, particularly on the legs, buttocks, and stomach, some patients may want to decrease the appearance of stretch marks. To reduce the appearance of stretch marks, patients can turn to Fraxel laser treatment, which can help boost collagen production and smooth out the skin. Fraxel can be used on many areas of the body, including those areas where stretch marks are most common: on the legs, buttocks, and abdomen.

Does Fraxel work on melasma?

No. Even though melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation, the Fraxel laser should NOT be used on patients with melasma. Any form of laser skin resurfacing, including the Fraxel laser, can cause melasma to flare, worsening the condition and causing increased hyperpigmentation. Instead, melasma can be treated with a chemical peel, such as the Cosmelan peel, or with a topical cream. If you are concerned about your melasma, the best first step for treatment is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Green, who can generate a treatment plan that reduces the appearance of your melasma.

How do I get started with Fraxel laser treatment today?

The Fraxel laser is an excellent treatment option that works via precise, controlled emissions of laser energy that cause controlled damage to the skin to boost collagen production over time. With two different wavelengths available, the Fraxel laser can address a wide range of skin concerns, including fine lines, wrinkles, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, uneven skin texture, and uneven skin tone. Unlike ablative laser resurfacing treatment options, the Fraxel laser has a low risk of serious side effects and does not require any downtime. To find out if the Fraxel laser is the right treatment option for you, schedule an appointment with expert dermatologist Dr. Michele Green.

Dr. Michele Green is an internationally renowned board-certified dermatologist with over two and a half decades of experience providing her patients with the best non-invasive treatment options. Dr. Green takes a holistic approach and embraces a less-is-more philosophy, creating customized skincare routines and treatment plans that cater to the unique concerns and aesthetic goals of her patients. She is consistently identified as one of New York’s best dermatologists by Castle Connolly, New York Magazine, and Super Doctors for her dedication to her patients and expertise. Please call us at 212-535-3088 or email our New York City-based office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Michele Green and find out how Fraxel laser treatment can work for you.

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