Should Be Done Under Full Anesthesia.

I am on my fourth day of recovery after my Fraxel...

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.

A note on why I did not provide the name of my...

A note on why I did not provide the name of my doctor: I have purposely left off the name of my doctor so that I can be completely honest about the details of my Fraxel experience-- good and bad. I have encountered some reviews on this site that appear to be blatant promotions for medical practices. I do not agree with the practice of listing the name of the doctor for that reason: it invites such disguised advertising. For the record, the doctor who did my Fraxel is a well-respected, Board-certified plastic surgeon. The price I was charged is the going rate for my area.

All previous updates on recovery are in the posts...

All previous updates on recovery are in the posts below. Two weeks after the procedure, my skin is almost normal, and I am back to my regular life. Since some of the immediate improvements from Fraxel:Repair do regress before your collagen replacement takes over, I am still undecided as to the usefulness of this procedure. My choice of the "it's not worth it" button is based entirely upon the level of pain I experienced. No beauty treatment is worth that much pain to me. Done under full sedation, I would not consider this such an onerous procedure. My recovery process was relatively easy, though I did have a few side effects (including some potentially permanent facial numbness). Had I been fully sedated, would I have considered Fraxel "worth it"? My answer to that depends on whether I regain full feeling in my face. If I do, I'd say "yes". If I don't, then I would have to say "no way". Right now, I'm sticking with the "no". I would urge anyone considering Fraxel Re:Pair to do a lot of reading about it first, and consider all the risks -- large and small -- before going ahead with it. Try to find someone who has had it done, with whom you can talk in person. Then ask yourself whether it's worth it for you. This is a cosmetic procedure. It's optional. Always keep that in mind.
Name not provided

I am neither recommending him nor warning people against him. I am reviewing the procedure, not the doctor.

Was this review helpful? 20 others found this helpful

Comments (34)

Sort by

My maths sucks...haha.....please pay no attention. I am around 64 hours post op. I'm soooo itchaayyyy!!! ;)
  • Reply
Hi guys! Your comments have been most helpful although, I wished I had found them earlier. I turned 41 on my birthday April 1st and as a gift to myself, I had IPL and Pixel both done April 9th. I only had the topical numbing cream and honestly (for me) it was tolerable except when they got to my forehead (which she saved for last) and holey moses that was the worst pain EVER! Felt like hot matches!!! I even had my chest done and it didn't hurt anything like my forehead. I have been careful to keep my hands washed, used my vinegar and water solution to clean my face twice daily and am keeping aquafor on at all times. So, had treatment Monday afternoon and this is Thursday early AM...it has been approximately 81 hours since my treatment and suddenly I have developed blistery patches on...guess where?....my forehead!!! They are very painful. From my temples down, I am already itchy and peeling and no longer sensitive to the touch (which makes me a happy camper because it's healing nicely) BUT...my forehead is going to eventually scab over and obviously take much longer to heal. I am worried about that area scarring. After reading some comments on infection and me now having blisters, I immediately started taking Keflex just for good measure. Thankfully I had a bottle on hand! What this is going to achieve for me remains to be seen but I can say this....if I have it again, I will not let them treat my forehead! I was told they treated my chest, half power and my face, full power. Maybe...just maybe I wouldn't have these blisters if she would have used half power in my forehead. I asked them if I'd be able to wear make up and be back at work on Saturday....they assured me I would be. Yeah right! I'll be at work, doing hair, looking a hot mess!! I guess they LIE about the down time because few people would actually get it if they knew it would take 2 weeks before they could (comfortably) emerge from solitary confinement! I'm just undecided, about this whole ordeal, as of now.
  • Reply
I had Fraxel Repair done three years ago and I am so sorry I did, I have hypopigmentation on both sides of my face that I have to work HARD to cover with makeup. I also have spots of hypopigmentation on my cheeks. It did NOTHING for me! I was60 years old and I do not think any laser works on rejuvenating collagen espcially after 50. Dont forget infection is a real side effect. I did get an infection and it cause extra scarring... STAY AWAY FROM THIS LASER>
  • Reply

Hey. Im so glad to.read your blog, gave me a lot of courage. I recently had co2 fractional but instead of imjections in my face they applied some cream to numb my face. Sadly after washing it off my face.was so red that I was scared of appling it. Geez but I went ahead with.the surgery. it was my second session. The first one went quite smooth. Minor stinging during the session but no blood oozing. But this second session left red blotch on my face. Its day 2 and im still red. Do u guys think its normal ot not?

  • Reply
How are you? I just had my CO2 too and like you after washing the anaesthesia off, my face had red blotches and I was wondering if it went away. It's just my first day of healing and I still can see the red blotch that the anaesthesia caused. Did it go away?
  • Reply
I thought i was going crazy. I'm so glad i found this thread. I had my procedure done 5 days ago and since have been trying to find more information on Fraxel re:pair now that i REALLY know what it's like. I have told all my friends and family that all the information out there is totally misleading. And even my Doctor did not mentally prepare me for the pain. My procedure was sooo incredibly and indescribably painful. I am pissed! I was given a topical anaesthetic cream, oral vicodin, AND injected Demerol. When the pain was too much to take, I was given yet another injection of demerol. And i STILL felt intense pain. I was literally a rag doll when the procedure was completed. I immediately thought this should have been done under full anesthesia.

I am now so itchy and cannot possibly see how i'll be ready for work in 7-10 days (as most literature states).
  • Reply
Update: It's been about four months since my Fraxel Repair. My facial ruddiness has finally calmed down. The overall roughness that I complained about is less, and my pigment is closer to normal (less patchy), but my forehead is still less smooth than it was pre-Fraxel. It's difficult to describe the difference, but it's as if the pores there are puckered now. I do see lasting improvement under my eyes, compared to pre-Fraxel. I think that my the improvement in my upper lip (vertical lines) has persisted, but it's hard to be sure because I get a filler injected into the edge of my lip. Similarly, the fine crinkles around my eyes are less, but I get Botox there, so I don't know that I should credit Fraxel for that.
  • Reply
Ten weeks post-procedure now. My skin is still patchy, ruddy and rough. My entire face is a very different color from my neck, so daily makeup is necessary,and not always successful in covering it. An area of pitting has come up on my cheek where it was not apparent before my Fraxel treatment. Fine lines have returned, and the crinkling around my eyes is nearly what is was before my procedure. The pigment that has returned (I wear face block daily and wear a hat when outdoors for extended periods, but I live in a sunny climate and some UV rays are going to get through) is in patches and, on my forehead, in stripes. The effect is very aging. I was in a department store the other day testing cosmetics, and I told the saleswoman that I'd had Fraxel and that the particular product I was testing had been recommended to me for use after laser treatments. She looked at me and winced and said, "Oh, is that why it's (my skin) so red?" And I was wearing makeup at the time.
  • Reply
CC, I just had the peri-orbital (SP?) area done on the 14th of this month which is basically the area from the bottom of the nose to the chin, using the nasolabial folds as the line to feather out from. I believe my settings were 50mj for depth and 35% coverage (density, I believe). I've seen a level number mentioned before (like yours was 10), but I don't know what that relates to. Anyone know? I have not written a review yet since I don't know yet if I can give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. It will be 2 weeks tomorrow and the area is light pink at this point, dry, some slightly numb areas still (tho' better every day)and still a little tight feeling. Wrinkles are improved, better on the top lip area than on the bottom, but that might just mean the bottom ones were deeper. Still waiting for complete recovery, but almost there. I had a laser pioneer here in Boston so I feel I was in the best hands possible.
  • Reply
I am also looking into the Fraxel repair. Was your doctor in Westborough Ma?
  • Reply
I have to say that I am disappointed in the results or lack of results, I should say. I have taken pictures all along and really there appears to be no improvement. It has been 10 months now and I think by about 6 months all the lines above my lip had come back, in spite of my doctor's assurance that I would see improvement going forward from that point. Didn't happen. Not the doctor's fault, just didn't work for me. He's a pioneer in laser out of Boston. Good luck.
  • Reply
On the subject of laser settings, if any Fraxel patients reading this know their settings, can you post them? I just read on another site where someone said they had this done with a setting of 70 mJ at 60%! I would think one's face would fry at that setting (they were pleased with the results, though). Compared to that, I was done at a very light setting.
  • Reply
How are you doing now? Any update to give us?
  • Reply
The short answer, Mom2tj, is that I am really bummed about this whole experience right now. It's been nearly eight weeks since my procedure. I don't like what I'm seeing in the mirror. I did finally regain full feeling in my temples and along the edges of my jaw. I still had twinges of pain in my jawline until about two weeks ago -- as the nerves woke up, but it's normal now. On the negative side, the pigment on my forehead came back in stripes and patches, and I have a rough area of skin above the bridge of my nose that was not there before. I am disappointed in this detail especially because my forehead was not an area of concern for me before the procedure. It was pretty smooth, in fact. My overall impressions of Fraxel Re:Pair after 2 months: * Overall tightening of skin: Yes. However, I see this lessening rather than increasing as the projected three-month active improvement period progresses. Visible laxity is returning especially under my eyes. My eyelids are fully as wrinkled now as they were before the procedure. * Improvement in skin texture: No. Although the tightening has given my skin a firmer appearance overall, it is no smoother, and is in many areas rougher in texture than before. My pores are more apparent than previously on my forehead and around my mouth. My formerly smooth forehead now has a pebbled texture that I find extremely unattractive, and that texture extends down alongside my nose to the area around my mouth and chin. Coupled with the pigment changes caused by Fraxel, these problems make it absolutely necessary for me to wear makeup every day. Previously, I could go without. * Vertical lines above top lip: Improved. This is about the only area where I can categorically say that Fraxel Re:pair makes a difference. I still have some fine lines there, but my upper lip now has fewer creases than before (and I didn't need line filler there when I had it done last time). * Acne scars: No measurable improvement. To be honest, I was warned that the Fraxel might have to be done more than once for acne scars. I'm not doing it again, though. * Orange Peel skin on chin: No improvement. I do have at least another month to go before making a final judgement on this procedure, but so far I feel that I have exchanged a bit of skin laxity (quite normal for my age and acceptable) for tighter skin that is unhealthy and damaged looking. I'm still crossing my fingers for the pebbly texture to smooth out, but at this stage I doubt that it will. Has anyone else experienced this? If so, do peels work to smooth it? Or dermabrasion? My laser setting was 40 mJ, level 10 for my entire face, except for nose and eyelids. Four passes.
  • Reply
I've decided to pull my socks up and get on with my normal life, albeit one that involves liberal use of sunscreen and moisturizer. At two weeks plus one day post-Fraxel, I am seriously feeling my lack of exercise, so I am headed off to the gym. I will hold off on swimming for now, out of concern for the pressure of my goggles on tender skin, but for everything else...Thunderbirds are go. I was able to wear my hair down around my face yesterday for the first time, as my skin hypersensitivity has abated. It's silly, but it made a big difference in how I felt about skin. My hair covers some of the problem areas around the edge of my face. I received an e-mail from a man castigating me for "obviously" choosing the "wrong doctor" for my procedure. He went on to detail how much better and easier his procedures were -- *multiple*, sequential procedures, which were "obviously" the much less invasive Fraxel Restore, not Re:pair! So you need to be careful when reading reviews on this site. Make certain that you are reading about the correct treatment. I would question anyone who claims they felt nothing during Fraxel Re:pair, unless they were knocked out. And beware: there are promotions posing as reviews out there. I have a final check with my doctor in about a week. I'll update if there is anything new. I plan to confirm with him what my laser settings were, and I will post that information here.
  • Reply
I hope it goes well for you, Melanie. First, if you don't have a spouse or partner, do arrange for someone to stay with you during the first three days of recovery. You absolutely cannot go out, and you might need something to be purchased for you, and you might feel rotten enough that you need help. The day of the procedure, you will be completely wiped out. You need another human there just to feel cared for. As Cyn, said, infection is the biggest threat. Keep your hands off your face, wash them before you touch your face for any reason, change your bedding and clothing often, keep your hair well off your face (I recommend getting one of those wide, terry headbands that are used in spas), and keep the wound clean and constantly hydrated with ointment. Follow your doctor's instructions to the letter. I was given a surgery packet of arnica tablets (an herbal anti-inflammatory) for before and after the procedure. I think the helped keep the swelling down. Have lots of towels on hand (early on, they will likely get blood and yellow seepage stains on them, so don't use your best ones). A gel pack that can be refrigerated or frozen might be welcome if you swell. Eye drops feel good when the Aquaphor migrates into your eyes. Straws for drinking are nice to have for the first couple of days, to keep your skin clean and keep the ointment out of your mouth. Before you have your procedure, go around your house and make sure you can darken a few rooms enough to be comfortable moving around until the fourth or fifth day when you can wear sunscreen -- I was confined to just a couple of rooms in my very bright house, which has few window coverings. Drink lots of water! And I would suggest (confirm with your doctor) having Neosporin on hand for that later part of the healing, when you might have some small areas of broken skin. If you are doing the vinegar soaks, buy several packs of gauze pads. I went through, I think, five packages (but I did the soaks for more days than required). I'd also suggest preparing the person who is taking you home from the surgery center (especially if it's a husband!) by showing him or her some "Fraxel Day One" photos. My husband admitted yesterday, now that I am looking fairly normal, that I really scared him when I was wheeled out of the recovery room, my face seeping blood. I hadn't thought that part through beforehand. That's all I can think of right now. No reason to be scared, though. The procedure itself is quick, and if you are to be fully sedated, you should feel nothing. I had no post-procedure pain, and minimal swelling. The itching and prickles I 've written about here seem to be normal, and do subside. TWO WEEK UPDATE: I still itch, but it's getting better. Not so crazy-making. I am no longer looking flushed, but am still very slightly pink, as if I've been in the sun. My forehead is redder than the rest of my face, especially in the area of the upper temples, where the skin is very thin. The skin there is darker and slightly redder even than the rest of my forehead, and it feels a little rougher and harder. I assume that I will peel again on my forehead. Overall, my forehead looks ruddy, and I can see broken capillaries and red dots on it. The one spot (about the size of a quarter) where I had a problem with broken skin is healed, but it looks as if I might get a scar there -- it is healing rougher and darker than the surrounding skin, and is slightly raised. I suppose I can deal with that later on with some other treatment. I am getting more feeling in my temples day by day. Unfortunately, as the nerves wake up, they seem to cause a deep itch that can't be scratched. It doesn't last long, but it's dreadful. Under my jawline, where my Fraxel treatment ended, I have a rough line of demarcation (in skin color) and strange, prickly nerve sensations when I rub the skin. I don't have complete feeling in the skin at the joint of the jaw. I think this is related to the Novocaine injections that numbed my temples. The skin discoloration is similar to what you get after a poison oak rash heals. It is not alarming, and it looks like it will even out over time. I have been using olive oil on my skin, and it seems to have improved the formerly angry, bumpy, raw look of my forehead. The skin there has calmed down and smoothed, compared to what it was a few days ago. But it is still on a different healing schedule than the rest of my face, as mentioned above. This is a difficult time, psychologically, because the minor (and flattering) inflammation that Fraxel caused has deflated. Many of my wrinkles have returned -- and my scars -- and now I just have to wait for a couple of months to see whether my collagen takes over the repair work. I do see some improvement around my eyes, though. Where I once had crinkly crowsfeet, I now have a few creases, and I think that I have less laxity underneath the eyes. But the bottom part of my face looks about the same as it did (as far as wrinkles and scars go) before Fraxel. Maybe even worse, since I haven't had any line fillers there for so many months now. Also, a detail about me that I didn't include in my review, but should have, is that I am nearing age 50, am post-menopausal and am on hormone replacement therapy (a low dose).
  • Reply
I am having Fraxel Repair Friday. I am scared to death. Any suggestions besides full sedation.
  • Reply
Melanie, Be careful of infection! I was on Keflex but still got an infection[ it was resistant to it] When I was put on Cipro, the infection cleared, but it had already done its damage. I am one month out and still have severe red and bumps where the infection was on my face. It really set me back on my recovery. Good luck!
  • Reply
Sah, my sister in Fraxel, isn't the hypersensitivity just the worst? Makes you want to scream. And here's something that's not in the literature... for those Fraxel patients who have furry pets in the home. You will find pet hairs in your face ointment! I can't tell you how many times I've run to the bathroom to do a vinegar soak because my face was tickling so much, and I look in the mirror to see dog hairs plastered to my cheeks. The vinegar water mix; Get a 16 oz. container of bottled water and pour out 2 tbspns. of it. replace that with 2 tbspns. of white vinegar, cap and shake. Soak gauze pads in a bowl, place on face for at least 5 minutes. Rub face *gently* with gauze when you remove it, to wipe away ointment and dead skin cells. At the beginning, you need sterile, bottled water, but I use my tap water now (it's very pure well water, though, with no chlorine ... don't know if it matters for pH, but I suppose it depends on your water whether you need bottled or filtered). My instructions pre and post procedure said to avoid all nsaids (like ibuprophen) for two weeks before and two weeks after the Fraxel. They thin the blood, and can promote bleeding, delay healing. (Only Tylenol is allowed.) I was also told to avoid vitamin supplements and fish oils for the same reason as the nsaids. I was put on an intense Retin-A peel treatment before the Fraxel, stopping something like 10 days before. I peeled like crazy with the Retin-A. It's an interesting idea that some inflammation might be needed to encourage new collagen. I didn't use the suggested frozen- peas-ice-pack on my face because it seemed too harsh for my tender skin. I took Tylenol maybe twice in the first couple of days after Fraxel. I guess that was the right thing to do? But then, I wasn't very swollen, so I had the option of just putting up with it. On the vitamin E, I've been looking at oils to use, too. I was considering jojoba oil, but I'm going to try olive oil (per Rebex, and her review). It's hard to find a balance between mild, moisturizing, healing, and non-clogging, when looking for something to put on this new skin. I have plenty of olive oil handy, so it's an easy next move. Rebex, our dogs are secretly out to get us, I'm certain of it. As soon as they figure out how to open cans, drive the car, and order online, we're toast. You reminded me of something that might explain why one section of my forehead is having trouble healing. I walked into the wall one night when I was getting up to do a vinegar soak -- don't ask -- and bonked my forehead really hard. That is where the more fragile skin is! so I must have damaged a deep layer of skin. Mystery solved. Early on, I could relieve the itch by pressing lightly on the spot, but now one touch makes the itch expand and compound. So I count, make a cup of tea, take the dogs outside, eat something (bad girl), or do anything to distract myself. Or I wash or soak my face. Your mime comment is funny! I had Blue Lizard thickly plastered on my face one morning, and my hair scraped back, and I was perched, Buddha-like against a pile of pillows on the bed, with a duvet pulled up to my chin. My husband came in and looked at me and said I looked like one of those Japanese dolls that sits on a platform, draped in robes. I thought it was kind of sweet. The guy tries, I'll give him that. No huge change today, day eleven. I think that my cheeks are somewhat softer, and the flesh there feels a bit less thick when I wash my face. The inflammation is down on the broken skin on my forehead, but the stripes and redness persist there, as well as the itching. I notice a new feeling of tightness across my lower face. I don't know whether this precedes another peel. It feels like dryness, but can't be, as I am nothing if not thoroughly moisturized.
  • Reply
I had sections too that took longer to heal. And just last weekend (when I was 12 days out) my dog hit me in the nose and I had broken bleeding spots from that... The stripes I had as well but they're gone, not sure when they disappeared. My face, esp. my forehead itched a long time--I would kind of relieve it by drumming (tapping) on my face--and my lower eyelids were super tight.. So 3 weeks may be a good mark for resolution...my skin is not so delicate now, my face still gets super red when I exercise, and I put Blue Lizard (a lot--I look like a mime) on before even looking out the window!
  • Reply
Crookedteeth thanks for posting! So much of what you are saying is exactly what I'm experiencing now 8 days post. My skin is very "raw", fragile, and hypersensitive. I can't tolerate one bit of sun - driving in my car on a sunny day hurts. My skin is itchy and I have a lot of weird sensations - kind of like pin pricks, a little burning sometimes and "phantom hairs or prickles" touching my face that you want to itch the H--- out of. I too must have rubbed too hard (I try to use only my fingertip, NOT nail to touch my face)as I have capillary breaks on my jawline that were not there 2 days ago. That's my biggest problem right now is the itchiness. I'll try more vingegar soaks as you suggest. How much vinegar do you use in the water? My MD did not mention this. The skin on my checks is also rough, not smooth after the initial crusting came off. I'm not sure, but maybe I'll peel again. The last day I've used straight Vitamin E on my face which I got from the drugstore on my face and I do think it's helped with the redness. It's kind of like Cairo syrup so I just leave it on for a few hours and then just gently blot it off. About the steroid cream, I also don't think I'd use that. The Pixel Perfect rep, who was at my procedure, advised against using any anti-inflammatories (drugs like ibuprofen). A steroid cream is a MUCH MORE potent anti-inflammatory than ibuprofen. He said a study showed that people who used ibuprofen post procedure (I don't know how much or how long though) didn't get as good of response to the laser peel. I guess you need some inflammation to get new collagen formation. Note to anyone reading this though - I'm not a doctor and if your physician recommends steroid cream, it's probably best to do what they say as everyone's skin and healing will be different. Most of my swelling is down now so I'm seeing wrinkles return (sigh). I'm still neutral as if it's worth it or not - time will tell. Again thanks for posting!
  • Reply
Sah52, you must be a strong person to have just a topical for a laser treatment! And then drive home... yikes! I suspect that how long the facial redness lasts depends on how you heal, and how prone you are to facial flushing normally. I blush easily, and get red-faced in a hot room. I get dark red marks from scars. After Fraxel, my face was bright as a beet on day four -- redder than it was the day before -- and I was a bit depressed about it because I seemed to be going backward instead of getting better. For me, the redness started to lessen soon after I peeled. The vinegar water soaks helped a lot. whenever my face started to feel hot or itchy, I would do a vinegar water soak, then wash with Aquaphor if I could (not too good to wash with cleanser more than 3 times a day... too harsh) or just pat dry and reapply Cetaphil cream and sunblock if I couldn't. The vinegar seems to take the heat out of the skin -- maybe constricts the blood vessels a little. I'm washing my face in the steamy shower, but I turn the water to tepid for the water I actually use on my face, and I don't put my face under the full spray. I'm not exercising or taking hot baths. I'm generally acting as if I have severe rosacea. I see improvement daily on the lower part of my face, which is a pretty normal color today. My forehead is still ugly, alas. I am not recommending any of this, and all things should be okayed my your doctor and all that, but homemade sunburn remedies might take down the redness a bit. Cucumber, spent tea bags, egg white, yogurt, milk, apple cider vinegar... all kinds of things can be used as masks to help constrict the blood vessels. Always do a skin patch test. Google "sunburn remedies". I have read elsewhere that some doctors prescribe cortisone cream for post-procedure redness, but I'd avoid it. My sister used a cortisone cream on her face for years (her doc said she had rosacea, but I don't think she did... I was once told by a doctor that I had rosacea, and multiple doctors subsequently said I didn't), and her face is PURPLE now. The cortisone abuse permanently thinned her skin and damaged her blood vessels. Nasty stuff. And by the way, I was prescribed the topical steroid Clobetasol Cream for use before Fraxel, as is common practice for this procedure. But I am one of those people who always reads the package insert. And the insert for this product said --- not to be used on the face! Other observations about my skin on this, day nine: My skin is hypersensitive, especially my forehead. I cannot stand to have hair touch any part of my face, so I must keep my layered hair pulled back tightly in a band. The feeling, when a strand of hair strays, is like when you have an advanced case of poison oak, and the touch of clothing on the affected area triggers a deep itch that makes you want to claw the skin off. Vinegar soaks and Aquaphor ointment take the itch down at night. I do my best to avoid touching my face for any reason outside of washing, soaking and applying lotions. With my hair plastered back, and my stubbly hairline, I am a walking bad-hair-day. I have noticed that my healed skin, on the bottom part of my face, is surprisingly fragile. Just pressing too hard will break blood vessels and leave purple marks. I would not schedule dental appointments within a couple of months after a Fraxel treatment! I haven't worn my contacts since treatment because I haven't felt comfortable pulling down my lower eyelid to put the contacts in. I'm afraid I will bruise. On the first couple of days after Fraxel, I noticed that my eyeglasses left bruise marks on the bridge of my nose, so I went without glasses for three days. My forehead feels tight and dry, even under moisturizer, and some very small areas have opened up again so that raw skin is revealed. I don't know whether this is a second stage of peeling or whether I've been too vigorous in washing. Aside from the itching, there is no sign of inflammation or discoloring, so I am not suspecting infection. I've been treating this area with even more care, and applying Neosporin to any broken skin. The larger acne scars around my chin and mouth are getting back to where they were before Fraxel. I try to remind myself that the real skin repair takes months with Fraxel, but the truth is that this feels like failure to me. Oh, well. Thank heaven for line fillers. The texture of my healed skin is not as smooth as I had hoped for. It has a slight pebbled texture, which the doctor says is probably just the normal texture that lay beneath all the skin that peeled away. I do think that it is more taut overall, especially under the eyes. (I did not have any deep folds or huge sags before Fraxel, but I had some sun damage, and my skin was starting to show signs of laxity under my eyes, around my mouth, and on my cheeks.) I seem to have slightly more feeling in my temples. Good news there. Trying to remain calm and unemotional during recovery has been important for me. Keeping my face still helps to keep it comfortable. If I frown, my forehead itches. If I smile, my cheeks itch. I am concentrating on being inscrutable.
  • Reply
Cyn -- I read up on your pathogen. sounds like you dodged a bullet there, so good observation on your part. Can you describe better what the peeling difference was? As I told you, I am germ obsessive. I wonder whether I would ever notice something like that. From my reading, I learned that the risk factors for Enterobacter species include having taken antibiotics within the last 30 days, and having had an invasive procedure done within the past 72 hours. You had both. Also, most skin and soft tissue infections with this pathogen are hospital-acquired. You might have been exposed at your medical center. I'm glad to hear that you feel confident enough to go out socializing! Just smile a lot. It makes people smile back. I'd love to see any photos you took. You just have to click on my log-in, and follow the instructions to send a message. Thanks. So, my condition on day eight: from my eyes down I look like someone who has spent time in the sun and is somewhere between sunburned and bronzed. The skin texture is (close to) normal, and soft. I have a couple of pimples near my mouth (bummer), and some roughness and broken capillaries on the bottom of my chin and along my jawline (I did not have my neck done). But otherwise, the bottom portion of my face is looking close to normal. My cheeks are still slightly swollen, but it actually looks good (think Scuptra). The slight swelling around my mouth that did what line fillers used to do for me is deflating a bit (again, bummer), but not completely. Some of my acne scars have reemerged, though somewhat diminished. But... my forehead still looks like it has been peeled in strips. Dots of blood show through the skin -- sort of a flat road rash effect -- on the upper temples. I know the forehead skin has little or no fat under it, so perhaps that's the difference. It is slow to heal, and still feels tender. The dark discoloration I've been worried about (a disc of red laser dots) between my eyes hasn't budged, although the similar mark on my chin has faded. I still have some small, dark dots on my eyelids. The numbness in my temples might be a little better, more on one side than the other. Still numb, though, and occasionally I have a deep itch in the numb areas, which is really awful. Today is the first day I would feel comfortable enough to return to a job if I had to (I work from home). No one would be fooled if I tried to pass off my "tan" as the result of skiing, or a trip to Hawaii, but my skin is healed enough to accept a little makeup, and I wouldn't feel too freakish. So for me, initial recovery from Fraxel Re:Pair was a full week, but my crusty forehead is still far from being "whole". I'd estimate another week or ten days for cell turnover there, and I have no idea when the stripes will even out. Another product suggestion for post-Fraxel patients: Blue Lizard Sunscreen. It's chemical and fragrance-free, and SPF 30, good for UVA/UVB. It doesn't bother even the most tender skin. Goes on thick and white (titanium and zinc oxides), but calms down a bit when it dries.
  • Reply
Odd new thing to add on day ten: When I spread lotion or sunscreen on my face, on the lower part where it is healed, I feel an uncomfortable prickling sensation. It's as if I had tiny needles from a cactus in my skin, and it's the rubbing, not the lotion that causes the feeling. Perhaps the doctor who moderates these threads could explain that one. Anyone else experience this? I've had to move backward in my treatment of one small section of my forehead. The skin there is broken and looks slightly inflamed. I am treating it as I did on day one, with five-minute vinegar soaks and Aquaphor, but with Neosporin applied under that. My forehead is still blotchy, red, and striped. it itches terribly. The rest of my face is a mild pink. It is slightly itchy.
  • Reply
Cyn, that is awful that you got an infection! That was one of my biggest fears. I hope that your skin evens out over time. Perhaps gylcolic peels would help, once you are able to get them (my doctor said I should wait until my skin is no longer red to start my peels again). They helped with my skin texture and color pre-Fraxel. Here is a good translucent sunscreen powder to try, which takes down the redness a lot (and also counters the sheen of titanium dioxide sunscreen): Colorscience Sunforgettable Dispensing Brush. It's UVA/UVB, SPF 30. I think I bought it from Bliss. It's expensive... sorry. I had my follow-up appointment with my doctor (day 6 of recovery), and was told that everything was on-track and that I looked very good for this stage. Much of my dead and hardened skin has come off in the shower (with very gentle, downward massaging in the steam). My skin is patchy and red overall, and I have areas where either broken capillaries (or just thin skin or bruising) make purple and red marks. I have very minor inflammation, mostly in my cheeks. When I apply Cetaphil cream, followed by a titanium dioxide sunscreen for babies, and then by a generous layer of a sunscreen powder, my skin color is closer to that of a fair Caucasian person, but nowhere near the normal color of my neck and chest. My forehead, viewed up close, makes me think of an elderly person who has undergone treatment for precancers of the skin. It has that same scaling and blotching. Since I lost some hair to the laser, my hairline is stubbly and unattractive, which doesn't help. At the doctor's office, I was introduced to another woman who had the same treatment on the same day I did, and she was way behind me in healing. She still had darkened, dead skin covering her her entire forehead. She seemed to be upset about it. So the healing time for Fraxel Re:Pair does seem to vary considerably. In my opinion, a week is needed before one can rejoin society, at least. If you are taking off time from work for this, it would be ideal to use five days of vacation bracketed by two weekends and the Friday before, and have the procedure done on that Friday -- if you can work it out with your doc, and good luck on that. One big area of concern for me is still the partial numbness of my temples. The feeling is like Novocaine when it is wearing off, and my doctor told me that this is indeed the cause. Novocaine was injected deeply into those areas, and it takes time for the feeling to come back. In most cases it does. Cross your fingers. My skin has started to itch, especially at night. I've continued the vinegar soaks a few times a day, and I still use Aquaphor at night because it calms the itch. I got up once last night for a vinegar soak. When I told my doctor that Fraxel should be done under sedation, he said that it was an option, but it was more cost and risk. I asked the cost difference, and was told $500. For someone who has been getting line fillers and Botox for some time, that's a drop in the bucket. I would have chosen full sedation, had I known it was an option. I am healthy, and face minimal risk from sedation.
  • Reply