Fraxel Side Effects

what Fraxel side effects are most common?

Doctor Answers 16

Fraxel side effects

To be precise, side effects are expected reactions from a treatment that are not complications. You ask about Fraxel. Side effects for Fraxel RE:store are different than Fraxel Re:pair. Reactions to Fraxel restore include swelling, redness and gentle skin flaking for three to five days. Sometimes the skin flakes slightly tan or brown. There is stinging during the treatment and for several minutes to even an hour or more after the procedure rarely. There can be a reactivation of one's susceptibility to having cold sores, and there can be pigmentation development that usually is temporary.

Fraxel Repair is more aggressive as a treatment and raw skin occurs as a result so that side effects are more numerable including oozing, crusting, brown flaking, long term redness, sensitivity and a very small risk of scarring and pigmentation changes.

Manhattan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

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Common Fraxel Side Effects

The benefit of Fraxel Re:store is its relatively low side effects.  By leaving the outer layers of the skin less affected, most of the initial reaction is limited to mild-to-moderate redness and swelling for 1-2 days after the treatment.  This accounts for the minimal social downtime.  The treatment itself can be a little uncomfortable even with topical anesthesia and the discomfort can last for a few hours after the treatment.  After the swelling and redness resolves, fine dandruff like flaking can occur, which may last 1 week.  For patients who work Mon-Fri, we will treat them on Friday and by Monday they are able to return to work.  Like other laser devices, burning and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can occur, but is quite uncommon.  For this reason, it is a relatively safe procedure that can be used for darker skin types.

What to expect after Fraxel

I am going to discuss what to expect after having Fraxel re:store treatment. Reactions that everyone gets, which can be referred to as common side effects, are redness and swelling that can last 2-3 days. Day 2 usually has the most redness and swelling. You can manage this by keeping your head elevated, using cold compresses, and taking antihistamines. You may feel a little itchy, but there should not be any pain or discomfort at any time after treatment. Then you will get some skin flaking or peeling, similar to very dry skin, windburn, or a sunburn. Some people, usually those with darker skin tones, may notice that the skin looks a little darker before it begins to peel. The intensity of your reaction may also depend on the strength of your treatment.

Some people with a history of acne will have a flare of their acne, but even if you do not usually have a problem with acne, you may notice the appearance of acne-like bumps. This is temporary, and you should tell your physician so that she or he can prescribe a medication for you to use.

Uncommon side effects include a darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation) in people with darker skin types, which may last several weeks. There is the potential for infection, permanent discoloration or scarring but this has not been seen with Fraxel re:store, which is one reason it is such a popular treatment.

Your physician should give you detailed instructions on what to expect and how to care for your skin after your treatment, and don't hesitate to ask questions.

Jordana S. Gilman, MD
Atlanta Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

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Fraxel side effects

There are potential side effects from any laser treatment. The potential for side effects is most commonly related to the experience of the laser physician rather than the specific laser chosen. Side effects can occur from any cosmetic treatment. The most common side effects are scarring or pigmentation problems. These are very rare but certainly can occur.

David Goldberg, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

What are Fraxel side effects?

The most common side effects are: redness and swelling and a warm feeling to the skin... this is all very similar to a bad sunburn. This lasts for about 3 days on average. After that, the skin starts to bronze with brown spots (the dead cells coming to the surface) and then peels. This continues for a few more days. That is the normal skin reaction after Fraxel.

However, some patients can get adverse reactions, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is a darkening of the skin. It is seen more in Asians and darker skinned individuals. I is best prevented by pretreating the skin with a bleaching agent like hydroquinone. Lastly, a rare adverse reaction is hypopigmentation. This is where some coloration is removed from the skin. This is a very unfortunate occurrence. It is certainly possible, but extremely rare. Personally, I have never seen this, but I do discuss this with all my patients in advance.

Sirish Maddali, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon

Side effects vs expected post procedure events

This is a really difficult question, but to simplify matters, it really depends on the patient, type of Fraxel used, and the planning, plus post laser care. Side effects, in my definition are UNEXPECTED events. So to answer the question - the most common side effects include infection (Staph or even HSV), and post laser darkening of the skin. Events such as post laser pimples are common, and redness, peeling, and sun sensitivity are NOT side effects but predictable events. Prolonged or persistent redness, can be considered a side effect. 
Most side effects can be minimised by careful planning, history taking, and in some cases preventive medications, including anti-virals or anti-bacterial treatments. Some side effects can not be predicted, and hence Fraxel, laser treatments and any other cosmetic or even medical treatments carry a quantifiable risk....

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Fraxel Side Effects

Most common side effects after non-ablative Fraxel are a sensation of heat, redness and swelling, similar to a sunburn. This typically is resolved by the 5th day. The heat is only felt for the first couple of hours. Redness eventually becomes bronzed, with a sand paper feel to the skin that lasts about 2 weeks. Results are usually visualized around the 3rd week. All symptoms above depend on the sensitivity of your skin. Most tolerate the side effects well.

Tim A. Sayed, MD, FACS
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Fraxel Side effects

The expected course after Fraxel does depend on which type of Fraxel laser you have.  Patients who have Fraxel Dual or Restore look red, like a sunburn, for 2-3 days, then bronze for 2-3 days and fine flaking can occur.  The whole process takes about a week.  Most people take off 3-4 days from work, but plan for a week if they have a special event.  This is great for people who have busy social and work lives, so don't have a lot of downtime, but want less wrinkles, sunspots and better texture to their skin!

Angela Sturm, MD
Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

You can play a role in determining how much "down time" you have

With most lasers, including the Fraxel, the MD performing the treatment can usually titrate the settings from weaker to stronger.  Weaker settings usually have less side effects/ down-time, but they also result in less of a "wow" effect.  Stronger settings have more side effects/ a longer down-time, but have a better chance of achieving your goal.  You can have a conversation with your doctor about what you are looking to achieve, and how much "down time" you are willing to have per treatment.  A compromise I make with some patients is to repeat treatments with weaker settings a # of times in order to achieve the results they desire, with only a day or two of down-time each time they come in for a treatment.    

Whitney Bowe, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Faxel side effects

The most common side effects of Fraxel laser treatment are swelling and skin redness; both should subside within a couple of days. Other temporary side effects may include minor itching, dry skin, peeling or flaking, and a bronzed skin appearance. The risk of infection or scarring is very limited

Cameron Rokhsar, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.