Fraxelated laser was recommended to me a few years ago by a dermatologist and was told it would be perfect for me. I have rolling scars that are 20 years old and still red.
Thought about it lots and decided to try this procedure at age 33, I am caucasian too in case anyone is wondering. Had a small test patch done a few months ago, as I had Artecol (not Artefill) done 10 years ago that went lumpy, and I was worried that stimulating new collagen around the PMMA microspheres (that are no doubt still there) might make me look lumpier again, as the lumpiness has gone down over the years. What a traumatic experience that was, let me tell you.
So with the test patch, I stayed swollen for a few weeks, the circular area that was treated was visibly raised for this time, and I could see little brown dots three weeks later from where the laser penetrated. I thought these were permanent but after using retin-a for a few days they flaked off :) The swelling went down by week 4 and I thought the test patch was a success with no negative side effects.
First treatment five weeks ago, used a setting 45/10 and only one pass because I swelled so much. Iced within minutes of treatment to ease inflammation and to reduce chance of post inflammatory hyper pigmentation. Iced on and off and used Asprin and aquaphor for following three days to try and lessen the swelling I experienced after the test patch. Seemed to work. The clinic gave me quite a bit of Alyria Glycolic Exfoliating creme (2) for free to use after day three to help those brown dots shed off faster, worked great. Was pink for 5-6 days and I can say that three weeks later the indented spots were less red and my overall skin color was more even which was a pleasant suprise in itself since I have had these red spots for 20 years. So my skin looked kind of like it glowed in these weeks. I also noticed the indents weren't as deep so happy with how the scars responded. The only negative was that the technician did my entire eye area and it seemed from week 3 to week 5 that the wrinkles around my eyes were more in number and deeper than they were before, and reached down my cheek. I figured that the heat dried out the skin so I did facial steaming to try to get the moisture back in, and bought Shiseido WrinkleResist24 eye cream to see if it might help. It did a tiny bit but the lines are still deeper when I smile than they were before, and visible when I don't smile and that is something new, they used to disappear once the smiling stopped. I was always told I look much younger than I am, people guess mid 20s. So I took further action and started taking borage, krill, and flax oils to moisturize from within. I googled "palomar 1540 dry skin" and "palomar 1540 wrinkles" and some things came up about fat loss that freaked me out a bit. But it was unclear whether it was the same palomar laser I used or the Palomar IPL laser, there seems to be a LOT of stories related to fat loss with IPL lasers of all brands. And people say it just gets worse and worse over months and months. In at least two of these stories, the people were actually burned and blistered immediately following treatment - I did not have anything like this, so it makes me wonder if maybe the technician used settings that were too high.
These stories also reminded me of the fact that ice/cold causes fat loss - kids who eat lots of popsicles get dimples, and the new treatments for muffin tops use cold to permanently melt the fat. So I am wondering if some of these poor people slept on an ice pack overnight or something, and if maybe I overdid the ice a bit myself, even knowing the correlation to ice. I didn't leave it on too long but did put the gel ice pack on directly for 5 minutes at a time. SO DON"T OVER-ICE PEOPLE. Here is how to ice to prevent permanent fat loss in you face: "Don't put the ice pack directly on your skin, and 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off." I also wonder if some of these people didn't use SPF 30 for even very short (5 minute) sun exposures for the following 2 months, as the new collagen is really delicate. This could explain why some people who got Fraxel (a similar laser) ended up with a permanent orange peel texture? You are also NOT supposed to use a physical exfoliator for at least one week after the procedure, but I guess a chemical one like glycolic acid (in my case anyways) is ok after day 3. Just my thoughts.
Decided to go with a second treatment after the first one, and asked they avoid the eye area this time just in case and I explained I thought it dried the area out. They said that yes the treatment can dry skin for a few weeks after. I was happy with the results on the scarring so far, so felt comfortable proceeding on the scarred areas. And even with the wrinkles, to me they are more "acceptable and normal" than a lumpy spotted face, so a trade off I can live with. This time settings were 58/10 and 2 to 4 passes depending on the area. Took tylenol beforehand in addition to the 45 minutes of numbing cream to make treatment more comfortable. I bruised quite a bit and I blame all the oils I was taking, I have since read these should have been discontinued a week prior, to reduce bruising. I also did not ice as much after since I didn't want cold-induced permanent fat loss in my face. So... 5 days after the prodedure... still pink but swelling is going down. Hope the pink goes away and I don't get any hyper pigmentation since as is evident by my acne scars, I am prone to post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. My face is still swollen so the wrinkles look ok. The only think I notice this time that I didn't before is the raised waffle pattern where you can see the tracks where the technician moved along my face. If I look really (REALLY) close, I see the areas the laser penetrated are indented and slightly pigmented. So small lines that are indented. And on my lower cheeks/jawline I see tonnes of tiny raised bumps. I seem to remember feeling these bumps the first time but not seeing them, and they exfoliated off after a few days with the exfoliating cream. I read some stories last night that these waffle imprints stayed after 6 months and 2 years for some people so I'm a little worried but if it's a trade for the scarring, and overall smoother skin with less redness so be it. The track lines are smaller than pores so not really worth mentioning, the waffle pattern is relatively much more noticable but still not a show stopper, it's not like I can't leave the house, the dots are smaller than my pores and smaller than my split pores due to the acne scarring.
So... I will post an update in a few days or weeks as I notice changes. I will let you know 1- if I stay pigmented as a result of the higher setting used, or if it clears up 2- how long the waffle marks and track lines stay 3- if the wrinkles in my eye area treated ONCE continue to get worse, like the stories of them getting worse and worse due to some weird fat loss 4- if I get overall fat loss in my face or some kind of damage that gets worse and worse over time in my cheeks and areas I was treated TWICE. 5-
My post treatment protocol includes vit c, oral hyaluronic acid supplements, borage/krill/flax oils, and enough protein and calcium in my diet.