Fairly Effective for Acne Scarring - Comparison with Fraxel - Michigan
To begin, I am a 28y/o female, caucasian,...
- 26 Aug 2009
To begin, I am a 28y/o female, caucasian, Fitzpatrick skin type III. I've had a series (x5) of full face fraxels over the course of one year. Although fraxel was moderately effective at reducing the appearance of my acne scarring, I was still not satisfied.
My acne scarring is limited to both cheeks. My left cheek is primarily very small saucer-type atrophic scars, almost in a linear pattern outlining the contour of my cheek bone from the area in front of my ear to about the mid-cheek. My right cheek actually has fewer scars, however, they are significantly larger and more noticeable than those on the left. The scars on the right cheek are a mix of saucer-type atrophic scars and a couple of box car scars, one of which is particularly prominent. I do not have rolling or ice pick scars.
Anyway, the fraxel improved the appearance of the majority of my scars moderatly (if I had to apply a percentage, I'd say approx. 50%), making them a bit shallower and less wide. However, the results were not good enough as I was still self-conscious in certain lighting. I went back to my dermatologist to have a full face deep fx treatment approx. one year following my last fraxel treatment. The deep fx was tolerable, although a bit more painful than the fraxel in my opinion. I had nerve blocks and a topical numbing cream in both cases; however, the deep fx was pretty uncomfortable in the area below the eyes and on the bridge of the nose. I elected to have no pain meds or anxiolytics during the procedure.
Recovery (i.e., time until I'm comfortable to be seen in public) took about 5-6 days and consisted of the usual: weeping, pinpoint bleeding, crusting, facial tightness, and mild peeling. Significant swelling until the 4th day, mild swelling on day 5, and microswelling which persisted for approx. 1.5 weeks I'd say.
Re: the acne scars, I was initially floored. They appeared to be almost gone the first week to week and a half following the procedure. I knew from experience with fraxel, however, this was mostly due to microswelling. At about the 2 week mark, I was confident the microswelling had subsided. The scars already looked significantly improved, although surprisingly a few looked initially almost worse. I attributed that to the skin injury induced by the laser and the initial stages of dermal remodelling.
My pores are smaller, skin tone is nicely improved, face looks/feels tighter, and I even had a slight brow lift from the tightening of the skin around the eyes/forehead! I am now 6 weeks out, and I have to say this has given me wonderful results with the scars. Some have vanished all together, and the rest are significantly shallower, smaller in diameter, and better blended with the rest of my skin. I can honestly barely see them in most lighting now. The 'skeletons' of many of them are still there, but are drastically less noticeable.
The major con I've experienced from this procedure is that my skin color is still a bit odd; still a bit reddish/pink, but mostly a bit tan-like where he went more aggressive. Moreover, you can still see some of the grid pattern on certain areas of my forehead and cheeks in natural light. Not terrible, but I notice it. Nothing makeup can't cover, though. I've been using retin-a and hydroquinone to expedite return of my normal color.
Overall, I found this procedure to be well worth it for my scars. I actually don't really think about them much anymore during the course of the day because they've become so insignificant on my face!
FYI, in my past experience with fraxel, my skin continued to change for the better even up to a year following my last treatment, and I assume it will be the same case for more aggressive ablative procedures such as fractional CO2. Collagen and dermal matrix remodeling really does take months and months, so please give this procedure time to see full results. Moreover, make sure you go to a well-trained physician, as provider skill is a huge determinant of outcome!