Fraxel® Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing
Wanting to look young is not exactly a new idea – the search for the fountain of youth has been going on for centuries. And while this past year did not deliver the perfect elixir, the year did introduce some scientifically solid, significant advances in anti-aging skin care. To home in on what can truly make a difference in your skin, WebMD asked medical experts to evaluate the cream of the crop.
Anti-aging Breakthrough No.1
The anti-aging breakthrough of the decade, according to many doctors, is a skin-resurfacing treatment known as fractional laser therapy.
“Essentially, you are getting all the benefits of laser resurfacing, the best way to remove wrinkles, but you’re getting it without the downtime and without the horrendous complication rate,” says David Goldberg, MD, director of Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey and clinical professor of dermatology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
How does it work?
The natural aging process, combined with exposure to sun and pollution, destroys collagen — the main protein of connective tissue that keeps skin plump and line-free. Laser resurfacing uses beamlets of energy light to bore tiny holes in the skin, which works to put the body’s natural collagen production on fast-forward. Here’s what’s new: Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing does this in a way that prevents damage to the top layer of skin, offering maximum results with minimal recovery time.
While laser resurfacing does not come cheap — it is quick, accomplished in one or two sessions, with about four days downtime and effects are thought to last eight to 10 years.
Using advanced laser technology for skin resurfacing precisely removes outer layers of damaged skin to reveal the underlying skin which is softer, smoother, and younger looking.
The latest technological advancement in the field of laser resurfacing is the use of light beams that are either pulsed or scattered at a very high rate. This minimizes heat damage that the skin might otherwise be exposed to. It also allows a more powerful CO2 laser to be utilized for deeper tissue removal and for more effective removal of pronounced wrinkles and creases. This technology allows the laser skin resurfacing treatment to provide some of the most dramatic, age-defying results possible.
Fraxel® Laser Skin Resurfacing
NO downtime – Skin Resurfacing a fraction at a time
Fraxel® is one of the latest innovations in aesthetic laser medical technology. Fraxel® laser is used for anti-aging, collagen remodeling and non-ablative skin resurfacing and provides a highly effective, predictable and safe non-ablative treatment for patients with wrinkles, brown spots, sun damage, stretch marks acne scarring. Fraxel® laser is the ideal treatment for acne scarring because it is very effective and there is minimal downtime.
Many patients want to look 5 to 10 years younger and so they come to the office to improve their fine wrinkles, sun damage, pigmentation and acne scarring. The fractionated laser is an excellent device for this type of patient and in many cases is the laser treatment of choice for acne scarring, enlarged pores, mild to moderate wrinkles, pigmentation, brown spots and sun damage spots. It also produces a substantial improvement in tone, texture and the overall appearance of the skin.
The Fraxel® laser is routinely used to treat photodamage of the face, neck, chest, hands, and arms. There is an improvement in colour, texture, fine lines and wrinkles. It improves acne scars, and scars that occur after surgery or trauma. Now, Fraxel® can safely treat off the face areas, including the neck, chest, back, arms, hands, and abdomen. Other lasers are not used off the face because of the potential risk of scarring.
The Fraxel® laser penetrates deeply into the skin to promote the growth of new collagen and result in deeper dermal remodeling than seen with non-ablative procedures such as intense pulsed light. Acne scarring and wrinkles are treated more effectively.
Fraxel® Laser Treatment produces thousands of tiny but deep columns of treatment in your skin, known as microthermal treatment zones. This treatment eliminates old epidermal pigmented cells. It also penetrates deep into the dermis. Just as important, though, are the areas of skin the Fraxel® laser leaves untouched.
For every microthermal zone the laser targets and treats intensively, it leaves the surrounding tissue unaffected and intact. This fractional treatment allows the skin to heal much faster than if the entire area were treated at once, using the body’s natural healing process to create new, healthy tighter tissue to replace skin imperfections.
Because Fraxel® Laser treatment spares healthy tissue, it is effective even on delicate skin areas, such as the neck, chest, and hands.
- Fine lines and wrinkles – like crow’s feet and brow lines
- Surface scarring – erasing effects of acne and other scarring
- Pigmentation – minimizing the appearance of age spots
- Sun damage – helping heal dangerous skin damage
- Actinic Keratosis (AK) – a common pre-cancerous skin condition
Improve your skin with each visit. After several treatments friends and family will marvel at how youthful and healthy your skin looks. Finally, there is a proven, safe approach to repairing aging and sun-damaged skin.
Fractional Laser Skin Resurfacing
Non-ablative fractional laser not only triggers new collagen re-growth but also replaces old skin with brand new healthy skin.
The anti-aging breakthrough of the decade, according to many doctors, is a skin-resurfacing treatment known as fractional laser therapy.
Combining the effectiveness of traditional lasers — long thought to be the gold standard in wrinkle removal — with a new application technique; it delivers powerful results without the traditionally harsh side effects.
Essentially, you are getting all the benefits of laser resurfacing, still the best way to remove wrinkles, but you’re getting it without the downtime and without the horrendous complication rate.
As the body ages, the appearance and characteristics of the skin alter. The epidermis becomes thinner so blemishes become more visible. Collagen in the dermis is gradually lost which contributes to the formation of facial lines, sagging skin and wrinkles.
Now, with fractional resurfacing, you can reverse this process. Non ablative fractional laser not only triggers new collagen re-growth but also replaces old skin with brand new healthy skin. In a nutshell, the treatment works by causing damage to the skin and dermis (at the microscopic level), stimulating new skin and new collagen growth to fill in lines and wrinkles and restore the skin’s elasticity.
How Does It Work?
Fractional laser works by targeting both the epidermis and dermis and treating it a percentage or fraction or at a time, hence the name Fractional. It does this by delivering tens of thousands of tiny but deep laser microbeams, called microthermal treatment zones (MTZs), into the desired areas of treatment. These microbeams create narrow, deep columns of tissue coagulation that penetrate well below the epidermis and into the dermis, while sparing the skin and tissue surrounding the columns from damage. MTZs trigger the body’s natural healing process, stimulating the production of new supportive collagen and healthy new skin cells. Excess pigment and coagulated cellular debris are expelled as your body rebuilds and the skin is resurfaced. Throughout the process, the integrity of the stratum corneum is maintained which protects the tissue from infection as it heals. The result: dermal collagen remodeling and skin resurfacing with new beautiful skin.
“Fractional offers a unique and outstanding option for skin rejuvenation.”
Fractional laser treatment has bridged the gap between the ablative and non-ablative laser techniques used to treat sun-damaged and aging skin. Whilst ablative laser treatments work mainly on the epidermis (surface skin cells) and non-ablative treatments work solely on dermal collagen (mid-layer of skin) only, fractional laser treatment works at both the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin.
How many treatments are required?
To understand how fractional laser treatment works a basic understanding of skin structure is required. Briefly skin consists of 3 layers, the epidermis (uppermost layer), dermis (mid-lay) and subcutis (lower fat layer). The epidermis contains pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for skin coloring. The dermis is made up of collagen and elastin fibres that provide skin with strength, toughness, elasticity and pliability.
Treatment consists of 1,000-2,000 microthermal zones per centimeter squared. Each treatment typically replaces about 13% to 18% depending on the aggressiveness of the treatment. Although results can be seen with one treatment they are not easily apparent and a complete series should be scheduled to get the full effects of this groundbreaking treatment. Mathematically, in order to treat 100% of the skin 6 treatments are required. Typically a local topical anesthetic is applied 30 minutes before the procedure. During the procedure the Arctic Breeze is also used which makes the procedure very tolerable. .
Although one will see some improvement after only your first treatment continued fractionated laser treatment will obtain far more desirable results. Significant improvement has been achieved for acne scars, pigmentation disorders such as melasma, sun and age-damaged skin, line and wrinkles, along with improvement in stretch marks and striae all scientifically documented from clinical researchers.
Summary, the benefits of fractional non ablative laser skin treatments are:
- Less down time- only pink skin for 1-2 days and a day or so of bronzing that can be covered with make up
- Better new collagen production in the deeper skin layers causing skin plumping especially of acne scars
- Fewer complications like hyper pigmentation (although with Fraxel there is a 15% incidence of hyper pigmentation (darkening of treated areas) especially in dark skinned people, but it is temporary.
- Improvement in skin texture and possibly enlarged pores
- Improvement in wrinkles
95% of patients surveyed would recommend a Fractional treatment
(Business Wire)—Today, Fractional laser for skin resurfacing and the treatment of wrinkles.
“Fractional is designed to safely and effectively repair dermal
imperfections and customers` outstanding clinical results and
histology data support that it`s working. A recent study revealed that 94
percent of patients were pleased to extremely happy with their treatment results and 95 percent of patients would recommend a Fractional treatment.”
“Fractional can be used on the entire face or just problem areas. It is especially good for treating the periorbital, perioral and jawline areas,” said Brian Biesman, M.D., medical director of the Nashville Centre for Laser and Facial Surgery in Nashville, TN and current president of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.
Fraxel vs. CO2 vs. Traditional CO2
Fractional CO2 laser vs. Fraxel™ laser
Either laser can be used to treat acne scars, wrinkles, sun damage, or texture issues but Fractional CO2 is our first choice single treatment laser resurfacing for severe sun damage, deep wrinkles, and very uneven texture while the Fraxel or fractionated laser is our first choice for people who are not willing to take the down time associated with one treatment. It is also excellent for acne scars. Some patients simply cannot have downtime of CO2 and prefer to use the Fraxel laser, even if it means a little less dramatic results and a greater number of treatments.
Fractional CO2 and Erbium creates perforations in the skin, so there IS crusting and you DO look bad for a week. The Fraxel laser heats up columns of skin without “perforating”, so there is little or no crusting and you just look a red and puffy for a few days.
Fractional resurfacing (Fraxel™ OR fractional CO2) vs. traditional CO2
Fractional resurfacing has less potential for side effects. The problem with traditional CO2 laser was never the results (they are dramatic). The problem is the potential for side effects. These potential side effects include scarring, hypopigmentation (whitened skin), and lines of demarcation (you can sometimes see were the treated skin starts and the untreated skin stops, and this looks unnatural). Because of the potential for side effects, we have always stayed away from traditional CO2 laser resurfacing. We tend to be conservative and did not think that the risk-benefit ratio was good with traditional CO2 (too much risk). Fractional resurfacing (either fractional CO2 or the Fraxel laser) has a much lower potential for side effects. In fact, since starting to use this technology, the only side effects we have had are temporary hyperpigmentation and even that has been rare.
CO2 Laser vs. Erbium Lasers
While the CO2 laser successfully provides a more thorough treatment for moderate to deep facial lines and wrinkles, it does require a more extensive recovery period. Recovery time for treatment with the CO2 laser is typically two weeks; the erbium laser requires a recovery of only about one week and is able to do darker skin types without the risks of hyper and hypopigmentation. For many patients, this extra recovery time is a small price to pay for successfully treating their damaged skin and providing them with a younger, more vibrant appearance. However, others who have less severe facial lines and wrinkles will want to explore their treatment options with the erbium laser.