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The Resurfacing Laser Treatment You Didn’t Know You Needed

Your skin can be reborn thanks to a laser known as Fraxel. Top dermatologists share the pros and cons of this procedure

Restore the glow this spring with skin resurfacing procedures like the Fraxel laser. to brighten the skin and smooth texture. Fraxel is an ablative fractional laser treatment, which means it only targets a fraction of the skin at a time. It’s ideal for treating sun damage on the face, neck and chest as well as acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, and melasma. “This laser will help with skin texture, firmness, elasticity and pore-size appearance,” says Dr. Anne Chapas, founder and medical director of Union Square Laser Dermatology in Manhattan. “A series of treatments is necessary, but the effects are gradual and require minimal recovery time—maybe a few days of redness and swelling post-procedure but can easily be covered by tinted sunscreen or makeup.” The device is both versatile and customizable, with the ability to go through every layer of skin to promote new collagen formation and skin rejuvenation. The advantage of Fraxel over other laser skin procedures and treatments is that you are not breaking the skin. “Since the laser only treats a fraction of tissue at a time, it leaves the surrounding tissue intact which promotes rapid healing and reverse sun damage,” says Dr. Chapas. There are two types of the device: the more aggressive Fraxel Repair, which can produce noticeable results in just one treatment, but requires more downtime and the milder Fraxel Dual.

Between two and six treatments to achieve optimal results and then annual follow-up treatments. “Patients may experience redness or swelling after the procedure that diminishes over the next several days,” says Dr. Chapas. “Skin may appear to be bronzed or show little dark dots on the treated area, which may feel dry, peel or flake and skin may have a sandpaper texture for a few days after treatment.” The procedure itself isn’t very painful. “Some patients describe the sensation as burning and will feel a tingly sensation during the treatment itself,” says Manhattan dermatologist Dr. Marnie Nussbaum. “However, most patients numb for about 45 minutes prior therefore minimizing any discomfort. Patients should avoid the sun for up to seven days while the skin is peeling.” Results can be seen after one treatment, however a series of treatments is usually recommended.

And you don’t have to sell actress and author, Jenny Mollen, on the treatment. She swears by it. So who’s not a candidate for this treatment? “Don’t get treated with Fraxel if you have extensive breakouts, open wounds, or infections on the face, are predisposed to keloid formation or excessive scarring or have experienced pigmentation changes following surgery or are on systemic steroids,” explains Dr. Chapas. “For patients with deeper skin tones, it is important to discuss treatments with their board-certified dermatologist with experience in treating skin of color,” says Dr. Nussbaum. “People with darker skin tones should avoid traditional ablative lasers like Fraxel Repair because there is a risk for hyperpigmentation.”

“Fraxel is a trusted, gold-standard treatment that has been proven to be safe and effective at addressing some of the most noticeable signs of aging,” says Dr. Chapas. “It’s a go-to treatment for many, including some of the biggest celebrities, because it produces noticeable results without extensive downtime.” Dr. Nussbaum is in agreement. “My patients love Fraxel because it provides real results for some of their biggest skincare concerns and helps them to achieve a more youthful appearance without surgery.” With most people working-from-home, now is a perfect time to sign up for this results-driven procedure.