first of all I have to apologize for my poor grammar as English is not my native language. And second I want to give you a short view about my skin type and reasons why I did the procedure.
very pale with ash blonde hair/eyebrows and dark blue eyes (I am a typical German girl who moved to Miami) skin is very sensitive but in a good condition and beautiful
I rarely suntanned in my life (a little bit in my teens but this is like 10 years ago) and always tried to avoid the sun as I never felt good in too much sun (I love the winter, rain, ice and wind). I also never used sunscreen (as I never tried to suntan or was out too long in the sun during daytime and Germany does not have too much sun anyway).
The only thing I did wrong (in my mind), was when I listened 6 years ago to my beautiful dark skinned Italian girlfriend I should go to a tanning salon not to look so pale anymore. So I did - the full program plus face tan and as long as I could stand it. Until that my face and shoulders had some small freckles and pimples. Soon after the tanning salon I started to get freckles all over my face (which did not really disturb me first as it looked kind of cool and made the face appear suntanned, so I went on going). Finally I stopped all that suntanning (I did it like 15 times altogether and once a week/every two weeks) because the freckles started to concentrate in a "ring" in the middle of my forehead, down the sites of my forehead, a little on my cheeks under the eyes and nose. This was first time when I heard something about sundamage and melasma. Anyway, I stopped tanning salon and covered it with make-up for the next years, hoping it will fade away. It never did but it also never got worse (it just stayed the same light to medium brown from the moment I stopped suntanning). Since I still was living in Germany I never used sunscreen and even when I first moved to Miami I never did - but the hyperpigmentation, melasma (or whatever it is) did not get worse even with sun exposure. It does not react to the sun - not at all (it does not get worse in the sun nor does it fades by staying out of the sun). When I came to Miami I started to get facials because my skin broke out because of the humidity - this was, when I became aware of all that hyperpigmenation, melasma etc. topic and how important sunscreen is. I got done 10 glycolic peels and 4 IPL on my face (both faded the stuff a little but after 2 weeks everything came back).
Finally I decided to get Active FX. I hoped and I was told that after one session should be gone = sundamage/hyperpigmenation/melasma/dark spots, redness, large pores.
I got the Active FX done about 5 weeks ago at a renowned institute in Miami (after all the research I had done on other institutes I thought this is the one). Their dentist as well as their surgeons where ranked under the 100 top dentists and surgeons in the country - they are featured in leading beauty magazines, have amazing credentials etc. They are located in a very high-end hotel and everything is just very luxury and professional about it…
Point is, that it was not just at some doctor who is doing laser treatments on the side. From all the research I had done about other institutes I still believe that this is the institute to go to. Also the guy who did the laser seemed very experienced and honest with me what to expect and what not. He would rather go for not doing something before doing it wrong and damage the skin.
The procedure was very painful without any painkillers but it was not the worst pain I ever had so I could stand it. After the procedure my skin felt very hot, swollen and red but I could drive myself home. At home I went to sleep as the pain got worse and my body exhausted because of the stress. I slept for like two hours and after that everything was fine. No pain and not exhausted - I never felt any pain again. That night I slept so good and peacefully I haven't in a long time - it was great! My skin looked like most others are posting pictures here: red all over and where the dark spots/sun damage/melasma was, it was all dark brown. The whole process was like others mention it here like peeling after 2-3 days etc. but it also was VERY comfortable (no pain, no breakouts, no itching - just relaxing).
After 6 days my skin had peeled completely and I can not tell you how beautiful I looked! Honestly, the most beautiful face and skin ever seen!! I looked like I just was fresh born - the skin was fresh, a little pinkish but in a good way, all sundamage/hyperpigmenation/melasma/dark spots, redness, large pores, blood vessels were gone. I was looking like a doll - the texture of my skin was sooooo even and silky. And I looked ten years younger - I was looking like one of those young amazing models for skin cream but without all the photo retouche to make them look good. Just soooo beautiful without any flaws. I was very, very, very, very happy with the results...
Now 3 weeks later the huge disappointment…
Everything, everything came back! And not only that, the sundamage/hyperpigmenation/melasma/dark spots got even worse and on places where I did not had them before. It almost seems like the laser stimulated them to come out. I also got hypopigmenation (means besides the dark spots I also got white spots all over). The face also developed more redness (not the red/pink from the laser - this is redness which came back after everything was fine). Every day it gets a little worse and I am wondering how I will look like in three months? I have been using a hydroquinone cream since 3 weeks but it does not do anything than irritating my skin. As I am working at night there was no chance for me to see the sunlight and the very few cases I used sunscreen SPF 30.
Just to make it clear that nobody gets me wrong: I do look good considering some people I have seen on this forum. It is not that “normal” people would look at my face and could easily see what is wrong. But my aesthetician was shocked when she saw my face and considered the money I spent, also my girlfriends who knew about the procedure. As I am very, very pale you just really see everything even it is bleached out a little and after all, this was just not what the company promised for the money they took from me. I am willing to pay a good amount of money when it comes to beauty procedures to get them done professionally but in return I expect excellent results (not to mention if the results are worse than before).
The guy who did the procedure is very friendly and even more shocked then I am and offered my free treatments to take care of it. That’s why I think it is a good institute because they take care of you on their expenses if something goes wrong. If anyone is to blame than the company which actually manufactures the laser because they are promising soooo much without having any long term studies for these lasers. Of course it does look good right after your skin peels of, but this was not the reason why I was doing it (just to look good for 2 weeks afterwards). For the money I spent I expected to have these amazing results for at least the next 2-3 years, right? But now I look exactly the same I did before just with even more hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, redness…
1. What to do now? What kind of treatments should I get now?
The guy is very supportive but besides me he only had one other woman where the stuff came back (he gave her another Active FX treatment and she never got it back again), so I am trying to find some other possible options I can discuss with him…
- getting another Active FX (maybe some people need more than one treatment?)
- getting Deep FX (because the laser goes deeper and will reach the cells which cause melasma better)
- getting Fraxel Restore or Fraxel Repair (are they more effective than Active and Deep FX?)
2. Why do I have to use this hydroquinone cream?
What is the point of using this cream??? The laser was supposed to get rid of all the hyperpigmenation etc.? It just does not make any sense to me that I need to use a bleaching cream after I got the laser done - I could have bought the cream before the laser if I have to use it anyway and it would have been much cheaper…
3. Which laser is the best for sundamage/hyperpigmenation/melasma/dark spots?
What is the difference between Active FX vs. Fraxel Restore and Deep FX vs. Fraxel Repair?
I wish I could find more people who had the procedure done a long time ago (like 1-2 years ago) and discuss some options with them. Most of the good reviews you can find here were written right after the treatment. If you look at the bad review they mostly were written after several months post treatment.
My conclusion is:
If you considering to get these laser treatments done and your skin looks fine/medium fine (means if you don’t have any very serious skin problems like deep scaring, deep wrinkles, extremely dark spots etc.), don’t do it just because you want to look MORE beautiful and MORE perfect!
After researching everything again (especially after I read all the comments from “Awake” who did deep researching because the laser damaged her face very badly - many thanks and all the best to you at this point!) I think there are too many risks in these procedures with too less long term studies and it is just not worth it if you do not have very serious problems with your skin!