I am on my fourth day of recovery after my Fraxel Re:pair procedure. My recovery has been uneventful, so far, but the procedure was unimaginably painful. It was done in a surgery center, under "twilight" sedation -- and with nerve blocking injections in my face -- but I felt everything. The passes of the laser were like being peeled with a hot knife. This procedure should be done under full anesthesia!
If you are considering having more than one thing done, it's possible to pair Fraxel with other work, such as liposuction, that is done while you are fully out. The fact that some doctors do Fraxel Re:pair in-office, with just a local injection and oral pain killers, is shocking. I have a very high tolerance for pain, and I was prepared to have this procedure hurt. Nothing could have prepared me for what it actually felt like. My body convulsed with each pass.
But on to the recovery.
After my treatment, my face looked frightening and raw, like it was covered in "road rash", as blood oozed from the laser perforations. It felt hot initially, but the nurses placed a cool vinegar compress on it, and my skin cooled. When I got home, I slept for an hour, then got up to do my first vinegar-water compress. The blood washed away, and I could see the dots of the laser's tracks. As the seepage of blood and serum continued, it looked as if I were sweating blood. I quickly applied a thick layer of Aquaphor, lay down on a towel-covered pillow, and waited for my next vinegar compress. I continued with compresses every two to two-and-a-half hours for 48 hours (setting an alarm at night). I had no pain, or stinging from the vinegar, and almost no inflammation. I slept with my head elevated, and I took a pain pill at night mostly so that I would remain still as I slept.
I was scrupulous about cleanliness when doing my compresses. I sterilized the bowl, in which I soaked my gauze, with Pinesol every time I used it. I washed my hands before touching my face for any reason, or used a tissue to press lightly on any place that tickled. I changed and washed my p.j.s and robe twice daily (seepage around my face, and sticky Aquaphor). I changed the towel on my pillow. I used a straw to drink.
On the second day, my skin was seeping only serum, not blood. There was no crusting, due to the regular compresses. My face looked red, but not overly raw. It felt deeply bruised in places. My eyelids were visibly bruised and purple. When I touched my forehead, where the skin is stretched taut, the skin felt thin and fragile, as if it might break. I made sure to keep away from the light in my bright house, and I kept up the soaks and thick slathering of Aquaphor (which by this time was in my hair, and all over my house).
On the third day, my skin was showing signs of wanting to crust. I upped the soaking times for the compresses, and applied Aquaphor as if I were frosting a cake. Some small pimples had erupted, and my skin had taken on a much redder, almost purple color. I was afraid of infection and an acne breakout, so I phoned my doctor's office and got the go-ahead to start using cleanser on my skin on day four.
Today is day four, and I was finally able to wash my hair and my face with mild cleansers (Aquaphor cleanser for my face), and switch to a mild moisturizer instead of the Aquaphor. My skin has formed a rough, almost sandpapery layer of what I assume is dead skin. In some areas it shows signs of wanting to slough off. When I applied a heavy layer of moisturizer followed by a titanium dioxide sunblock (the chemical sunblocks will sting and irritate your skin after Fraxel, so physical sunblocks are preferred), My deeply red skin turned purple, with a metallic sheen. So I strongly disagree with my doctor, who said that I would be able to leave the house on day four. I am still housebound and looking freaky.
Overall, I like the firming up I see on my skin (which I am told is partially due to temporary inflammation, as long-term improvement happens over months). I am very worried about how red my face is, and that some areas of my face seem to have diminished feeling, topically. However, that seeming numbness might be due to the layer of dead skin that hasn't peeled yet. I like that my acne scars seem to have been zapped off. It's too early for me to have a a final opinion on this procedure. But I cannot stress enough to anyone considering this: Fraxel Re:pair hurts. If I'd know what the pain level was, I never would have agreed to do this under partial sedation.
I will update this post as my face changes over the next weeks.