Recovering from Fraxel laser resurfacing

I’m currently on my 5th of a series of 6 fraxel treatments. My doctor has the most recent “version” of the Fraxel laser, the Fraxel SR1500, which is more powerful than the earlier model. I’m in my early 30s, and still have fairly oily resilient skin, so the dermatologist said that we could do a pretty aggressive treatment. We started out with the first treatment at about 3/4 of the way up the scale, as far as depth and concentration, and have been “turning it up” with every successive treatment. The most recent treatment was 14-16 passes at 70mj, in R2, the “restricted area” at the top of the scale. From what I’ve researched on line, this is indeed a pretty aggressive treatment. She also did a lighter treatment on my upper lip, and on my lower eye area, to blend the skin.

THE PROCEDURE
When I arrive at the doctor’s office, the nurse/aesthetician removes my makeup, and applies a numbing cream. I sit in the room reading fashion magazines for about an hour with this numbing cream on, so that the procedure is less painful. And thank goodness for that, because even with the numbing cream, and the 8 ibuprofins I’ve been taking at the same time, the procedure still hurts. Quite a lot, actually. The doctor does provide pain meds — vicodin or valium, if I want. The catch is that then I would have to have a driver. I’m still kind of embarrassed of this whole resurfacing thing, and would prefer that no one see me while I’m all puffy and ridiculous looking after the procedure. So, I just do some meditation and breathing techniques that I learned in yoga class, and hold onto the stress balls that the doctor gave me, and pretty soon the lasering is over. The whole time, there is also a device going that blasts cool air on my face, which also helps. I’m not sure exactly how long this part takes, but would estimate that it’s somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes. At the end, they put a cooling mask on my face (which is a welcome relief), and then I’m sent on my way.

RECOVERY

While the Fraxel website (and most information on the web) claims that many people can return to work and normal activities following treatment, or perhaps the next day. While this may be true for people using lower settings, I have not found “no downtime” to be true for me. The first night, my face is very puffy, and somewhat sensitive. Sometimes I have some pinpoint bleeding. My doctor gave me a tube of Cicaplast (La Roche-Posay), basically an ointment that I keep on my face to help speed healing. The second day, my face is much more puffy, and the upper layer is starting to turn a bronze color (preparing to flake off). I put ice on it, keep putting the Cicaplast on it, and work from home. I can’t honestly see any improvement on the swelling from the ice, but I guess you’re supposed to ice swelling, right? During my earlier treatments, my skin would generally peel on the third morning, leaving healthy, smooth skin — that also happened to be bright red. I would go to work with a heavy layer of makeup on, face still slightly swollen (it looked like I had put on a few pounds, all on my face). Lately, though, with the even more aggressive treatments, I’ve been taking 2-3 days away from the office. With a Monday afternoon appointment, and a few days at home, I’m generally looking “normal” enough by Friday night to go out with friends (with a lot of makeup to cover the bright red color of my face) without looking strange. People may notice that I’m wearing a lot more makeup, of course, but the redness is generally able to be hidden by that point. I wear a lot of makeup when I go out that weekend, and then by the following Monday, my skin has faded to more of a “pinkish” hue that can be covered by a normal amount of makeup. The recovery isn’t painful at all, though. At most, my skin itches a bit when the skin is ready to flake off.

RESULTS
The results are actually sort of hard to measure. I look at my face every day, so the small changes that happen over time due to collagen remodeling aren’t going to jump right out at you. I’ve just completed treatment #5, and had the first one approximately 4 months ago. The changes from the collagen are supposed to happen gradually, 2-3 months after each treatment. I can tell every time my face peels that it looks smoother. I feel when I look in the mirror that my scarring is less severe, so it must be helping. I’ve gotten compliments from people I haven’t seen in a long time that I look good…. that could also be taken to mean that I haven’t gotten fat either, though :-) Has there been a night and day change? I’d say no. Has my skin improved? Yes. I’d like to have a look at those before and after photos when this is over, to be able to make a more objective observation. The doctor predicted a 60% - 75% improvement, which I don’t think I see yet, but perhaps I will 2-3 months after the treatments are over.

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COMMENTS / 2 COMMENTS

Just wondering how your feeling about your fraxel results now. I just had my first treatment3 days ago. The swelling has gone down and my scars are becoming noticeable again (the swelling made my skin very smooth). :( Are the results supposed to get better over time?

kash added these pithy words on Mar 31 08 at 12:02 am

My doctor told me that the collagen will continue to improve over the next 2-3 months following treatment. I noticed the same thing you’re describing, though - your skin swells up so that it looks perfectly smooth following the treatment, but then when the swelling goes down, the scars come back. I noticed some improvement after my skin peeled, following treatment, but I have also seen some additional improvement over time. My scars are still there…. but look much softer. I wish they could go away completely, but I’m not sure that that’s a realistic expectation.

admin added these pithy words on Apr 03 08 at 8:14 pm

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