Fractional Laser (Fraxel)

A way to smooth scars, erase pigmentation and improve the texture of skin.

Cavitation treatment. Credit: GregorBiste / Getty Images

Fractional-resurfacing technology uses the light of a laser to the skin to improve skin texture and remove pigmentation. Applied to a small fraction of skin at a given time, the energy of the laser system stimulates collagen in the skin and rejuvenates the skin cells below the skin’s surface. It helps smooth out the creases that cause wrinkling and scarring.

Uses

Fraxel®, the brand name of the laser device that pioneered fractional-resurfacing technology, is used for:

  • Improving the texture of skin and skin tone
  • Shrinking pores
  • Erasing brown spots
  • Smoothing wrinkles around the eyes
  • Smoothing acne scars
  • Rejuvenating skin on the chest, neck and hands

The light of the fractional resurfacing laser reaches the innermost layers of skin leaving the surrounding skin unaffected. The healthy cells in the surrounding untreated skin promote the rapid healing of the entire area leading to a faster recovery time with minimal side effects.

The Procedure

Performed in a doctor’s office, a topical anesthetic is applied to the skin. The handpiece of the fractional resurfacing laser is moved over the targeted area. It destroys damaged skin cells and promotes the growth of newer, healthier cells. Treatment typically takes between 20 and 30 minutes.

After a fractional resurfacing laser treatment the skin may feel slightly sunburned. This lasts for about an hour after the treatment. Afterwards, discomfort should be minimal.

Any mild swelling will subside over the course of two to three days. Any pink-looking skin will fade in five to seven days. The risk of infection or scarring is limited.

New epidermal skin will begin to develop within 24 hours. The skin may be bronze-toned for a few days to two weeks. It will most likely flake and exfoliate as the new skin begins to take its place.

The newer skin is extremely sensitive and full exposure to the sun is discouraged. Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 should be applied daily.

While results vary, fractional resurfacing has little-to-no downtime. Routine activities can be resumed almost immediately.

The results of the procedure are usually best seen in two to three months with constant improvement to the skin over the course of a year. Each successive treatment will improve the quality of the skin.

Effective treatment plans suggest three to five sessions spaced over two weeks to a month to cover an entire area of skin. 

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