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What is Active Fx really like?

  • Confused
  • 6 years ago

I am in need of real advice from real people who either have performed Active Fx or who have been on the receiving end. I am considering undergoing this procedure in the office of a well-respected dermatologist. I am concerned, however, because what I am reading on these boards is not what I am being told by the office. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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I am 40 years old, redheaded, fair skinned (Fitzpatrick 1) -- and I'm in the midst of a series of Active FX treatments for sun damage and some pre-actinic keratosis areas. Unlike most folks, I am not just having my face done, but also my eyes, neck, chest, arms, hands, shoulders, and upper back (pretend I am wrapped in a towel after getting out of the shower, and everything above the towel is getting ablated!) It's a little gross to be able to smell your own burning flesh (and it continues to smell a bit cooked for a few days after), but I have a high tolerance for gross. ;) However, it cracks me up when these doctors who haven't actually had the procedure themselves say that fractional laser is painless and you shouldn't even need a Tylenol -- what a load of crap! My doctor gives me Lortab, Xanax, and a numbing cream before each treatment -- and it still feels as though I am being stung all over by a bunch of bees. The pain afterward is also a lot worse than I expected based on what I had read in these forums (I am self-employed, so I have the luxury to spend about 4 days largely laying in bed, either reading or working on my computer, but trying to move as little as possible after each treatment -- I can't even fathom having to go into an office or trying to go to the gym right away). However, my doctor is taking a fairly aggressive approach and is working on some very thin-skinned areas -- face alone would not be that bad. I am a month out from having my face, neck, and chest done, and just got my arms and hands lased two days ago. My face peeled and healed very quickly (it was looking pretty darn smooth by the time I went in for my 4-day check up), but the other areas take a lot longer to heal (my check and neck were still very red and raw and swollen at day 4). And I experienced a lot of itching on my neck and chest as they healed -- to the point that I had to take Benadryl several times to keep from wanting to claw at my own skin. There is also a great deal of stinging in those more sensitive areas (not so much face, but definitely chest, neck, and hands) -- even a few days after treatment, I would get these weird random sensations that felt something was biting on me, like being zapped with the laser again (all just part of the healing process). And I find myself having to take Lortab once or twice in the night for the first few days after treatment just to be able to sleep -- last night (which was the 2nd night after having my arms and hands lasered) was excruciating. I fortunately have not had problems with the milia, although I did get a pimple about 2 weeks after doing my face, and it was that deep painful almost cystic kind that takes a while to go away (which I've never had before). It's going to take a couple of months for the pink to fully fade, but I can see that it's getting better each day -- it seems that most of the people who complain about permanent hypo or hyper pigmentation are dark skinned. Every time I go back to my doctor's office, the two little med students who have been following my progress are so amazed and impressed with my results -- and when they pulled out the before pics, I can DEFINITELY tell that everything is smoother and more evenly toned. I had some deep neck and chest creases that are VASTLY improved -- although I'm waiting until we hit the maybe 4-month or 5-month mark (when the collagen production has really kicked in) before determining if these spots need a second pass to eliminate them completely. And I'm really looking forward to seeing how my hands look when they heal -- my doctor is expecting the crepey skin to be completely smoothed out. As far as I'm concerned, this treatment is totally worth the down time, but there could be a lot more down time than folks on the web make it seem like. As far as I'm concerned, this is not a "lunchtime" or even "weekend" treatment -- plan at least 7 to 10 days, and possibly more if you tackle other areas besides face.

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The above could have been written by me. I say, "ditto, ditto, ditto" to everything she has written. I had the procedure performed last Tuesday, 6-25-2013, and RC999 describes the process and subsequent pain to a "T". In addition to taking a valium and vicodin once I arrived at my appointment, they used numbing gel over the areas to be treated. I was still apprehensive about the pain and so my doctor used a dental block on, I think, 6 different areas of my face only. Even with all that, the process was uncomfortable and I kept wondering how people could tolerate it without using all the things my doctor did to keep me comfortable. I also brought along my i-pod and turned up my music so I didn't have to listen to or think about what was being done to me. I highly recommend using your i-pod! I had my face, neck and décolleté done and at this point, the only area that still remains somewhat painful is my neck and chest. I couldn't be happier with what I am seeing on my face. It is not completely peeled, but the skin tone that is emerging is even and smooth, I'm ecstatic. Is it worth it? At this point in time, I would definitely say "YES"! I will follow up this post in a month or two and let you know how I feel then. I also agree with the above post in that it is NOT a lunchtime procedure. I also have the luxury of not having to be anywhere so I've been patient with the heeling process in allowing my body to rest and heal.

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I had the procedure done a month ago. My doctor said I would see a dramatic difference in my skin. I'm 29 years old. I have some chicken pox scars, some fine lines and a scar from stitches I had when I was 4 on my forehead I wanted addressed. I have no improvement also from this procedure except for the scar from the stitches isn't as hard as it once was. I also now have DEEP wrinkles all around my eyes. I'm freaking out about it! I also still have brown dots all over my face. I haven't peeled in weeks. I also have avoided the sun. They also told me it was dead skin which is a bunch of bull! I see Dr. Robbins on the 3rd. I'm fearing he is gonna tell me to fork over more money to fix it and I don't have more money to do that. My eyes are ruined. I now look like I'm 45 years old. I still have all of my fine lines and my best feature, my eyes, look like that of a Much older woman. I don't know what I'm gonna do??? :*(
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what is this???? it makes no sense
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You are right, it made no sense and was more of a solicitation, so I removed it.  Thanks!

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Hi,
I am approaching the 5th day after a combination active/deep fx laser resurfacing on entire mouth area (May 12th) primarily to lesson scar on the corner of my mouth, and to rejuvinate mouth area. I don't exactly know what the healing should look like, but I would say that the area looks more red than pink. I've been blotting the area with gauze dipped in ice water ( several times a day ), and keeping the area moisturized with Aquaphor healing ointment. I tried Complex Cu3, but noticed a burning sensation afterward, so I discontinued that. About twice a day I gently apply Cetaphil "gentle"skin cleanser and splash tepid water on the area after, followed by blotting with iced gauze. I shower once a day with warm water, but make sure I do not get my face wet. Being I am an avid exerciser, I started using my stationary bike for 30 minutes on post recovery day 3, for 30 minutes ( hardly any sweating ) and stretch bands with mild exertion. Although exercise is not advised, I feel that it helps blood circulation/healing, and I don't notice swelling afterward. Is my post resurfacing routine ok? I've lost most of the crust but some remains. When it all disappears, does that mean I am healed? Will the red area turn into another crust and peel off, or will it just get lighter. The doctor's directions state that makeup could be applied after healing, usually after 7 days, but I am not sure as I approach day 5 and am still quite red? If I am still red on day 7 ( but no crust ), can I apply makeup? I am supposed to have a follow up apt with the doctor 1 month after procedure.
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Does anyone have a comment about doing it on my legs?
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I had the fraxel done last september..Recently when I spoke to my doctor who "fixed" my sinuses...he said he didnt think the fraxel was worth the money..he is also a cosmetic surgeon..but does not do fraxel becaue of the reason above....I was quite happy with it..but after discussing it with him I went ahead and had the co2 laser done around my mouth and lips..and it is way better..of course it is a more invasive procedure..and takes much longer for the red to go away...but I kind of wish I had waited and done my whole face with the co2 instead of the fraxel......
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I had Active/Deep FX on 2 days ago to reduce my acne scars and I feel great. I had the numbing cream and a vicodin and an anti-anxiety drug about an hour before the procedure. Some passes of the laser did hurt, but it was bearable. It took about 45 minutes and then I was able to go. My husband was there to drive me home. I slept a few hours that day but have been completely feeling normal (with the exception of a little tiredness from valtrex and the antibiotic I have had to take). I have been driving my four kids around, cooking, laundry, etc. My skin doesn't hurt unless you poke at it. I am excited to see the end result!
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I added a post on the last page of this section. I listed my recent experience with Total FX within the past 2 1/2 weeks. You can check the comments below. I did not have a bad experience but I do wish I had know exactly what to expect at what time. I'm guessing everyone's results are slightly different based on their skin and response to a burn. I would say that my down-time was 10 days to 2 weeks. Be prepared for milia (tiny little pimple-like pockets) DON'T PICK the skin is too thin and you could scar. Use the vinegar soaks (1 tsp vinegar to 2 cups ice water) with a damp cloth. Gets lots of rest.
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I just had this procedure done, and I found the vinegar water very soothing. I put mine in a fine mist spray bottle and kept it in the refrigerator.
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I had the total fx on thursday...today is sunday and I finally started to peel in the shower is was remarkable, but let me tell you my face is beet red...and I have developed alot of what looks like white heads but could the be tiny water or burn blisters...stopped the aquaphor and started using biafine that I was prescribed after Fraxel Restore..I had three Fraxel Restore procedures for old cyctic acne scars and at best I saw 30% !!improvement...got a special on total fx 1/2 off..hope I see better results...Dr. said he did about 80% deep on my face and I pray I am not red for months.
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I had Total FX done on Feb 24th. Today is March 13th - 2 1/2 weeks later. I should mention that my complexion is very fair and I'm in my mid-50's. Here's my brief symopsis... First day I was given a mild xanax and two pain medications, lidocaine cream application (twice within 30 minutes) and 3 facial blocks (injections, including in upper left and right gums). The pain was tolerable, the Deep FX really stung but I had only a few areas of treatment) Active FX was easier to take. Afterward, my face was pink. I was taken to a different room with dim lights and had cold compresses constantly place on my face, neck and chest for at least an hour. I remained at the doctor's office for 2 1/2 hours after treatment. By the time I got home I was much redder. Next day my face was completely swollen. I didn't have my upper eyelids done (I didn't need it) but my lower lids and the tissue surrounding looked like they were inflated. Two days later, still beet red and very swollen. My doctor gave me a kit of supplies to use and scripts for a week of antibiotics and anti-viral (which I started the day before the treatment). I used Skinceuticals products. Hydro Balm (instead of Aquafor)basically the same. It's thick and gel like. Keep your skin moist. I used 1 tsp (tbsp?) vinegar to 2 cups of ice water (with cubes in it) as soaks which releived pain, swelling and inflamation. I used it several times a day. Most healing takes place at night while sleeping. Drink lots of fluids - stay hydrated. It's a burn. Days 3 to 5 still dark pink. Day 6 I started to see swelling drastically reduced and color beginning to return to normal. Peeling from day 3 through day 9. I peeled two times in some places, three times in other places. I had hives on my chest and took benedryl round the clock. It was very helpful. I used some 1% cortisone cream on the hives and once or twice on the severe peeling in limited places. I wore makeup for the first time at 10 days.... it looked crusty in places where there was still some flaking skin. I couldn't wait to wash it off. I was tired most of the time, as if fighting off a bad cold - a burn is a burn! I noticed in the last 48 hours that my neck and jawline are tighter. (good) I can smile easier as the "tight" feeling around my mouth goes away. I started getting cystic acne on my chin at about 6 days and called the doctor right away. He increased my dosage of antibiotic and at 2 weeks switched me to Oracea 40 mg. The acne has stopped and it clearing. At two weeks I can wear makeup with moisturizer under, but don't unless I have to. I'm still tired but looking like myself again. Every day I notice something, some feature looking better, tighter, less lines. But I'm still a little pink. Without makeup I think the pink is noticeable with the makeup only I can tell. The quality of my skin is not yet normal, it's a bit dry, no natural oils yet. But it's improving daily. That's my story. Good luck.
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I'm having this done today, your comment was very helpful to me. Thanks
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Hi everyone, I am a 49 year old male with acne scars. I had the active fx done yesterday 1-31-2009. I took a norco and half of 2 mg xanex that the doctor gave me. Who by the way i thought did and was excellent, especially for the price paid "whole face done for $1000.00, it was not bad at all pain wise, excapt i noticed when he went around the eyes and cheeks,you could feel a burning stinging, but i figured it as no pain no gain, I mean, if you want the top few layers of your skin off, your going to feel a little something. Today im a bit puffy around the eyes and red, but it already looks great as far as some of the acne scars and pores seem alot tighter, well some of that is due to swelling. but i would not,hesitate one bit to do it again if i need it, which i probably will because of some deep acne scars from years ago. But i am a verry happy camper today:-)) By the way , im not sure i can do this, but the doctor is in San Diego, Dr.Sean Daneshmand,from ageless and beautiful in Hillcrest. Hope this helps.
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I see this post was from March. Did you have the procedure done?
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Binny, You are very lucky to have the results you have. I do notice a little decrease in the nose to mouth wrinkles, but I'm attributing that to residual swelling because I still have slight swelling in that area. I guess I'm going to have to ask about the hydroquinine tomorrow to get rid of the discoloration. I wish I could tell if it will fade, but it doesn't look like it is going to. I wonder how long you have to use it to see fading. My doc said he starts people back on Retin A the 4th week. I've used Retin for about 5 years and love it. It really does make a difference, but at this point my skin is still too sensitive to use it. Before the procedure the doc told me this would be like using Retin A for 5 years with the improvement all in one day. I never had all the discoloration with Retin A.
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Hi Maxine, I have been reading your posts and I'm going to have Deep FX at Dr. LaConey's office here in Houston. I was just wondering what your lasting effect has been from getting the procedure. Is it worth it?
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I would not recommend Active X to anyone interested in removing scars, or just about anything else. I'm at week 4 and healed except for some darker looking horizontal marks from the laser. All facial imperfections that I had before the procedure have returned as the healing and swelling have taken place. I received many compliments on my skin before the procedure, and at this point I just want to get back to the point where I was without all these "laser" marks. I think the best results you get from this is the toning, tightness, and texture which supposedly take weeks or months to occur. I'll post again when and if that happens to me. For me the pain was very bearable with only the cream and shots. The down time is only a few days, but I still have to wear a lot of makeup to cover the red/brown lines. I've heard this procedure works best on people with lighter skin, so if you have olive skin you may want to use caution.
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Maxine, as I have posted here previously, all facial imperfections that I had before the procedure are still on my face. The superficial skin problems were so minor: light brown spots, 2 aks & 2 sks. I am very fair skinned and I heal well and rapidly I will opt for dermabrasion--which I had signed-up for with another MD--but the ActiveFX MD strongly suggested the ActiveFX. Dermabrasion, which I had 12 years ago around my mouth still looks wonderful ! I had deep lines all the way up to my nose and down to the chin. I was completely numb, no pain during & afterwards, and invested $500. My MD, in another state, said lazer work does not last nearly as long as dermabrasion, and dermabrasion will remove ALL imperfections; it did. I am 4 weeks post Active FX, and I look worse than I did. No lazer marks, just waiting for a slight improvement on tone & texture. I'm sure the stress and negative emotions are showing on my face. It should be happy and more hopeful than it is. This is a $3,000 nightmare, and I can't wake-up.
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Hey, Maxine- I don't have any marks or darkened areas on my face. I have had to take Valtrex to control any fever blisters(thankfully I get that for free from my doc!)but all redness, swelling, etc, is gone. I have noticed a decrease in the deep wrinkles that run from my nose to mouth, lips are fuller, furoughs between my eyes are't as deep and overall appearance is smoother. I remember thinking when the doc that did the laser said he could see a difference about an hour later that is was probable just starting to swell. Thankfully I don't need to wear makeup to cover anything- it just plain makes me look a little more presentable! Had a patient remark the other day that he had never seen me in the office before. Actually I had seen him twice before! I guess I clean up okay. Will post another picture tomorrow-it will be the one month mark.
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LaserLee- I can't believe you didn't have any pain with the microdermabrasion! I know there are different degrees of the chemical they use but if it does anything like the laser, well, you must be one tough cookie. Did you post any pictures? I think I'm going to go with some botox next chance I get, but only around my eyes. Have you ever had that? Last time I did it I got too much on my forehead and it caused my brow to droop. Sounds like you had your procedure the same day I did or close to it. This website has really been helpful to me and I am grateful for your imput.
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Binnybib1 and others: I had a full Lanocaine block when I had dermabrasion. This is much deeper--aggressive--than microdermabrasion. The plastic surgeon used a tiny wire brush; it can be done with a metal instrument that is like a sraper. The wire brush was conducted via electricity. I know this sounds very harsh, but again this was done by a MD--a surgeon that had being doing the procedure for many years. The MD that did this UnActive FX, wants to put me on Hydroquinone 8%, Reitan A, Fillers and Botox ! I have never once asked about using these--I'm not the least bit interested-- and this MD suggested all of them at my check-up, the week after my UnActive FX. I wanted to avoid using these named products above, so I opted for this lazer treatment instead ! More $$$$$
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