Fraxel Laser Treatment (FLT) is a "fractional" treatment that produces thousands of deep, tiny columns in your skin, called microthermal treatment zones. FLT is "fractional" in that it intensively treats old epidermal pigment cells without affecting any of the surrounding tissue, which reduces healing time and promotes the skin's natural process for creating new, healthier tissue to replace the damaged cells.
Until Fraxel, there were two types of available laser treatments. Ablative laser treatment, which literally means to vaporize at very high temperature, is very effective but has significant side effects and requires a lengthy healing period. The other available laser treatment, being non-ablative, has little or no side effects and almost no healing time, but requires numerous treatments over many months and has limited results at best. Fraxel treatments offer the effectiveness of ablative treatments with the benefits of the gentler, non-ablative lasers.
FLT is designed to target aging and sun damaged skin by targeting portions of specific damaged tissue. By creating microscopic "wounds" within the targeted areas well beneath the outer most epidermal layer of skin, Fraxel Laser treatments trigger the body's natural healing process accelerating the production of collagen and new, healthy skin cells.
Since FLT has the impact of ablative lasers but the gentler benefits of the non-ablative treatments, healing time is significantly accelerated so there is minimal downtime. Because the Fraxel Laser penetrates the non-living out layer of skin leaving it completely untreated, make-up can be worn immediately following the procedure. Some patients are able to return to routine activities, including work and social obligations, the same day of treatment. Others require a little more time, depending upon their skin condition and treatment. Please consult your physician to understand how Fraxel® Laser Treatment will fit into your schedule.
Swelling and redness are the most common side effects from treatment. If swelling does occur, it is minimal and will subside within a day or two. Redness may occur and will fade within a few days. There is a very limited risk of infection or scarring.
Clinical studies suggest that on average, an effective treatment regimen is 3 to 5 sessions, spaced about 2 to 4 weeks apart. Depending upon your condition and schedule, you and your physician may choose to space treatment sessions even further apart. Results are immediate and progressive. Optimal improvement is usually visible in about 2 to 3 months. This time frame and treatment structure allows for complete healing and replacement of damaged tissue with new collagen and elastin, and viable healthy skin cell growth.
To prepare your skin for treatment, it will be cleansed. Then a blue tint, called OptiGuide Blue, is applied to the treatment area. The tint increases the contrast of tiny folds in the skin's surface, allowing the Fraxel® Laser handpiece to precisely read the discreet contours of the treatment area. A topical anesthetic ointment is also applied to the treatment area approximately 60 minutes prior to treatment in order for the anesthetic to take full effect. The procedure takes between 20 to 25 minutes for a full face. The blue tint and anesthetic ointment are washed off immediately after the treatment.
During the first 24 hours after treatment, your skin may feel as though it is sunburned, and it will appear pink or red. Make-up can be worn to reduce the sunburned appearance. Your skin will naturally bronze over the next week or two. As you continue treatment, the sunburned to bronze conditions will repeat. Just like a natural sunburn, your skin will flake and exfoliate normally. Using a moisturizer will help reduce the appearance of dry flakes.
Wearing sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher twice a day is especially important. Avoid direct sun exposure during the healing process and for at least 3 months after treatment. Wearing wide brimmed hats is highly recommended when out in the elements.