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Day 17 -positive BUT....sharing my Observations and Opinions

I’m 17 days post Fraxel Restore procedure....

I’m 17 days post Fraxel Restore procedure. I’m satisfied so far but with some “buts”… The best advice I can give anyone considering Fraxel:Restore is to really is discuss your personal goals with your doctor and then research, research, research.  My personal goal was to address papulopustular rosacea where I have some redness with transient bumps and pimples.  Anything else Fraxel provides would be a plus but not my main goal.  There are many forms of rosacea and there is no known cure so I can’t say this would be effective for everyone. Only you and your doctor can make that judgment.  Some people find relief from different rosacea treatments that others have no change.

 

Positive:  17 days later I’ve observed smaller pores, many of the broken capillaries gone and no evidence the rosacea pimples.  Only time will tell if these results can be maintained and for how long.  I highly recommend taking your own series of digital close ups of every aspect of your face before the procedure.  My changes were subtle but being able to compare these photo’s it was very obvious that very small wrinkles were gone, pores were definitely smaller, and broken capillaries while not all gone were clearly reduced.   

 

Your Doctor:

I felt my doctor was very clear on what to expect.  His exact quote when discussing the procedure with me was, “Your going to look bad for first few days.”  He paused and said again.  “Really bad.” with a pained look on his face. This web site was also very helpful in preparing myself.

 

My opinion is I would only allow a face neck plastic surgeon do any type of work on my face, Fraxel is no different.  My doctor has done about 65-75 Fraxel procedures before my procedure.  As a result he modified his technique over time based on what he has observed.  My understanding is he presented his technique at a medical conference in Nov 2008.  His technique is basically to make the deep passes by then a shallow pass.  Clearly, I’m no doctor.  So please don’t ask me to explain beyond that.

 

People always ask about the pain in this blog.  Your treatment provider MUST address the pain or you will be in pain.  My doctor provided a topical pain cream one hour before along with a pain killer cocktail and then injected nerve blockers.  Even with that my leg involuntary shock when the tool went over some parts of my face. (By temple, upper check area.)

 

Here are my “but”:

  • I just don’t feel it’s worth $5K.  Perhaps I’ll feel differently if the rosacea stays abated.  I feel this one time procedure would be more fairly priced in the $3K range (Ok –reality is if my rosacea stays away then I’ll think it was worth any amount of money.).
  • The recovery time is NOT 5-7 days.  Yes, the crusting will be gone and you can leave your home to be around strangers on day 7. BUT YOU WILL BE VERY RED.  I returned to work 11 days after the procedure and every person I encountered in the hallway stated, “wow, look at that sun burn, must be painful.”  Or “where were you on vacation? Forget the sun block?”  I had to go to the ladies room every few hours to take off the concealing make up and apply a heavy moisturizer and then put the make up back on.  Note, these comments were made while wearing concealing makeup.  There is only so much makeup you can wear in the day time without looking like a clown.  It’s also hard for someone like me who typically wears very little skin makeup. Day by day it’s fading and on Day 17 (today) was the first day, with make up, that I felt I could reasonably hide the redness. It’s still a pink red 17 days later but little lighter each day.

 

Opinions and Observations

  • My observations is this is a good treatment to look “fresh” and to address some visible surface issues on your skin.  This is NO WAY a laser “face lift”.  If you need a face/neck lift or eye lift, then just get the lift.  There are no miracles of “a no surgery lift.”  This wasn’t my goal, but I write this because it seems to be a goal of some people on this blog.  My feeling is they will be disappointed.  On the Fraxel website, listen very carefully to the doctor talking with Kathy Lee Gifford on the Today Show clip and that doctor is very clear that it’s not a lift.
  • It will NOT eliminate everything.  Again, if you are looking for every acne pock mark, every wrinkle, every capillary, every skin discoloration to be gone from your face, again you’ll be disappointed.  The Fraxel marketing photo’s at the doctor were very clear that while these things were clearly reduced, they weren’t 100% gone. (A picture is worth a 1000 words. I’m also sure that given our differences as humans, that some people may achieve 100% but don’t think that will be the vast majority.)
  • The photos I’ve looked at in my doctor’s office and from my experience, this appears to be a good procedure to use WITH a lift. Just like Fraxel is not a lift, a lift is not the skin resurfacing of Fraxel.  Seems like both together really give a nice result.  (I didn’t do a lift. It’s not my time yet, but I think I may in 3-5 years.)
  • No matter how many pictures you look at and how prepared mentally you think you are, you’ll still be shocked when it’s your swollen, red,crusting face looking back at you in the mirror.  The good news at least you will be prepared but it’s still unsettling.
  • If your looking for deep furrows (aka the deep laugh lines around your mouth) to be gone –nope. That’s a job for a lift and filler.
  • I would not do a spot treatment.  I did a full face and neck.  At least I could wear turtle necks and say I had been on vacation.  I don’t know how you’d explain the extremely visible difference in color between treated and untreated areas.  Even with full treatment you’ll need to be good with makeup to blend the untreated “white areas” around your eyebrows and lips and hairline with the red treated area.

 

Overall:

I will post in 3 months and 6 months to let people know if my observations and opinions have changed.  My current concern is just waiting for my skin to return to its normal color and hopefully still be rosacea free.  I will not be posting photos because this procedure is just too personal for me, but I do thank everyone who had the courage to post theirs.  They were very helpful to me and I’m grateful and thankful for their courage and openness.  I’m also grateful for everyone’s participation in the RealSelf discussions..  I felt I was better prepared to ask questions and receive information when I went to discuss the procedure with my doctor.

Aesthetic Wellness Center

Board certified face and neck plastic surgeon

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Bostongirl - I am considering having the same treatment (Fraxel Repair) by the same doctor that did yours. How would you rate your results now that it has been over a year? Do you still have improvement? Did you develope any pigmentation problems? I am considering for lip and undereye wrinkles and for some sundamage.
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Congrats on the good turn out. I just had Re:Pair done on my forehead today for small acne pit scars located around my stress line. I am also considering V-beam as my face has been red since getting acne 10 years ago as a teen. So far (day 1) my forehead (lasered area) is just as red as the rest of my already semi-red face. I am a little concerned about the discoloration between the two areas but I hear it goes away eventually. In the mean time I will wear a hat after a week or so to cover up the lasered area. Once again, congrats on the improvement and thank you for informing.
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MSM is suppose to help with a lot of things really anything in the body that has collagen so beyond hair, skin and nails i.e like Sharon says joints and I have an issue with this too due to over exertion and I think I am starting to feel some imrovements there as well. I now also think that it is working on my hair has the beautician who colors my eyebrows said to me today that they seem thicker :) yippee
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My Mom takes MSM for arthritis/joint pain and she swears by it. She said it took about 3 weeks to kick in, but that she woke up one day and the pain was gone. She also likes that it's natural. So... a glowing endorsement from her. :)
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Hi Boston Girl, that is really good to hear. I read something on the web that MSM was really good to take to improve skin regeneration and that it helps with rosacea i.e. diminishing or even removing it. In general, MSM (sulfur) is, so I read, good for skin, joints and even hair and nails etc. as it helps to build better collagen and it is in a lot of foods especialy vegetable but due to diets i.e. not enough greens and the way vegetables are produced these days we do not get enough of it. Anyway I am just thinking that the laser treatments force the skin to build new collagen lets give your body all the building blocks it needs. You have to start with slow dose as it also detoxes the body. I am not sure if this MSM talk is just hype but I am going to try it and wait and see. Hope it helps. Maybe someone else here has got experience with MSM and could comment.
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Thanks EllieC...just did a bunch of googling on MSM and very interesting. Found interesting clinical that was accepted for publication. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119421548/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 A family member is a doctor so he should be able to get the full study so I can read more. Love realself community...thanks for the tip.
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Just a quick post: I'm now 60 days past the procedure and still no sign of the rosacea. My skin is an even toned creamy color. Most of my broken capillaries are gone. I'm going to have the remaining ones zapped with a V laser (??) There is one left on each check and one left in the corner of my nose. They are barely noticable without makeup on but I figured if I went through the downtime and expense of the Fraxel:repair that I might as well finish up the look. My skin has a somewhat more youthful look because some of the minor wrinkles are barely visible. Some of the deeper wrinkles are a "little bit" better. I really think that biggest contributing factor to the better appearance is the skin uniformity.(wrinkles weren't my goal but nice to get that benefit..) I did get 3 or 4 pimples during the healing process as others have noted but they were very minor and gone in a day. I'll post again on Day 90. Still pleased. Hope it lasts (aka rosacea does not come back.)
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Lori what do you mean it all went away? I have the same facial issues as you and now I'm not sure I should even spend the money & time if down the line my skin reverts back to the way it was before the fraxel proceedure? Was this what you experienced, really?
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Hi Jann...I was wondering how things turned out for you. Glad to see your post and that it went well for you.
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I had the repair procedure on 12/19. The procedure was painful and it took about 7 days until I was able to go outside with makeup. It is now day 15 and my skin is slightly pink. I am still applying vasoline to soften the skin. So far, I am pleased with the results. It tightened up the crap skin on my cheecks and softened some deep wrinkles but did not eliminate them. Overall, I am pleased with the initial results. I hope that the results will improve with time although from reading the comments it seems to reverse. How is that possible? I thought that this would improve skin for about 5 years. Anyone have any comments on this? Thanks.
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I'm now about 7 weeks out. Did the Fraxel:Repair week before Thanksgiving. My red has really faded, light pink now which is easily covered with standard makeup. The rosacea has still not returned. Still praying it doesn't. I have noticed that every few days I get a small whitehead pimple in different places but it's not the rosacea. Others have mentioned them after Fraxel. The small pimple will appear in the AM. I do a very local, targeted exfoliation to the area (about 1/2 inch area) and dab it will Neosporean (sp?) and it's gone the next day. I'm assuming that the pimples are from the healing going on down below the skin surface or as the new skin is forming that the dead skin is causing some minor pore blocks. DOCTORS: Anyone want to comment on the minor pimples after Fraxel?
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I am about three months out and a lot of areas that looked very improved have reversed and are going back to the way they looked before the surgery. My area of concern was fine lines and mild acne scarring. In addition, I am still pretty red without make-up. I have found a green color stick that off sets the red under my makeup. I hope your results stick better!
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Jann- I'm now Day 28 and yes so far I'm pleased. I had full face and neck. I have to emphasize that satisfaction is absolutely tied to goals and expectations. My goal was to address the rosacea on my cheeks. So far, so good. Most of the capillaries on my cheeks are gone. My skin has a nice even pink tone that is fading. The treated/non-treated areas are blending more and more each day. I don't have any visible rosacea pimples. As I said in earlier posts that Fraxel has other benefits like minor wrinkle reduction and I can clearly observe that fine lines around my eyes are gone BUT that's not my goal. My success criteria is for the rosacea to not return. It's a big wildcard since nobody knows for absolute sure what causes rosacea and there is no known cure. My rosacea started 3 years ago and my belief is that it's related to mid-40 hormonal change and to the broken capillaries onmy checks. So I'm hopeful but only time will be the judge..
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One thing I'd like to clarify is the definition of "down time". To a physician, down time is really what we consider the time it takes to clinically heal, so called, "clinical down time". For most of my patients, that is anywhere from 5-7 days (sometimes up to 10 days) in which the skin is healed and done peeling and the majority of the swelling is gone. I have said, and will continue to emphasize, that the redness and pinkness will last from 6 weeks, up to 3 months. We (physicians) consider this as social down time. The social down time varies from patient to patient and has a lot to do with the job they're in, their social circles, and the comfort they have with being seen in public with a face that is fairly red. Those first 5-7 (up to 10) days are fairly intense and require a lot of wound care and you really can't do anything else except care for your skin. I hope this helps out.
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Boston Girl, BTW are you happy you did the procedure?
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Hi Boston Girl, I am having the procedure on 12/19..only on one lower check area (sag skin there) and upper lip. I called the dr's office and of course they said recover would be swift. But I believe you on the down time. I do have off for 17 days so I am hopeful I will look ok by then... What do you think? Will I still need make up? Thanks for your input.
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Boston Girl, thanks for writing an honest, frank review. You said your doc stayed away from your hairline, lips and eyebrows? My doctor ran the laser right into my hairline (so I lost some hair), over the edge of my top lip, and right up to the edge of my bottom lip, and up to the edges of my eyebrows (lost some of those, too). Are there any other Fraxel Repair patients out there who can tell me how common it is for the laser to be run into the hairline?
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Jann...Geez.... Today is 12/16 + 3 days is 12/19, that makes Xmas 6 days away. Are you having the Fraxel:Repair? That is what I had and it's the one time more intensive treatment. I want so much to be able to tell you what I believe you want to hear but I can't. If Fraxel:Repair, six days you'll still be extemely red and very difficult to hide with make-up. Also the Dr. has to stay away from your eyebrows, lips and hairline so you'll have these white untreated areas and then the red areas where you were treated. Especially where you say you wear minimal makeup... I'm very fair skin Irish/Dutch, blue eyes. I had a very good treatment with good post procedure healing. Even with that I really felt it was at least Day 11 before I could feel comfortable amongst co-workers. Even then, they all commented on my "bad sunburn" with the concealer as I mentioned on an earlier post. On Day 7 I went to the grocery store but that was the "I don't care what strangers think trip." I would have died if I ran into someone I knew. I so wish I could say something different and I can only go by my experience but the comments on Real Self make me belief my experience is more the norm. (Little tip: If your having your neck done as well, get a 3 strand fake pearl/beads that lay right on the transition between your neck and chest. This will help hide the transition line between neck and chest. Else plan on a turtleneck or scarf. Plan on cotton turtleneck, wool would to too uncomfortable against your new skin. Happy Holidays.
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Hey Boston Girl, I am 3 days away from treatment and am very apprehensive. DO you think I can go out in public by x-mas and by day 17 should look normal. I wear minimal makeup as well.
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I used {edited - we've added this information to the top of the review} in Westborough, MA. He's a Board Certified facial plastic surgeon, head neck specialist. He does the procedure. He and his staff are very nice. They have web site you can look at. Mom2tj: I'm going to be presumptuous of your "signature mom2tj" assume you may have children. If you have young children you may want to consider having them stay with family/friends for the first 4 days if it's possible. The first 24 hours, you really won't want to try to care for them. The next 3 days your face will be extremely frightening to them. Your face will be bloody, swollen, crusty, globby from the Aquaphor. It's very startling to say the least. By Day 4, you'll look like a shiny red/purple balloon that I think they may be better able to handle.
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Great job Boston Girl! at least you were patient knowing that the first two weeks were gonna be super awful. So many people expect gratification. I guess this procedure truly takes months to see the great results. Keep us posted if you notice any changes. Super post!!!
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Thanks so much for your great information! I'm looking into providers in the Boston area. Yours seems to have A LOT of experience with Fraxel. Which doctor did you use? Good luck with your continued healing!
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Hi Boston Girl, I am so pleased for you to hear these positive comments and compliments I am sure it will get even better for you. I figured that you had re:pair done as the other Fraxel's are not as severe and not a one time treatment either. Wishing you continued success with the treatment. Ellie
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First, I must apologize. I did NOT do the Fraxel:Restore, I did the more intensive one time treatment Faxel:Repair. Really, really sorry for the confusion. The names are so close. I don’t know what I was thinking when I typed the original review. Jann and Ellie – everyone is different but yes 18 days you’ll be able to cover with very natural looking makeup. (basing this on my experience and what I read in this site and my doctor). Even on Day 11 I could get away with saying it was a sun burn. Everyday there was improvement. Remember, I don’t wear much face makeup, so I really couldn’t layer much on. My doctor gave me “Jane Ierdale” Concealer Cream and PurePressed base SPF 20”. I took a dab on the concealer cream and mixed it with a dab of CeraVe moisturizer and made it easy to smooth over for a very natural look. I then brushed and blended with the PurePress. Remember you must use sunblock!! I liked how this already had SPF 20 in the make up. BIG TIP: I forgot to mention this but I highly recommend that you purchase CeraVe moisturizer and wash. It’s about $18 per bottle at places like CVS and Walgreens. Note while some CVS have it on shelf, mine needed to order it for me. I started with Cetaphil, which I use all the time after showers and so forth. By Day 8 (4 days after Aquaphor and 4 days into moisturizer) I felt a slightly warm/burn sensation when using the Cetaphil moisturizer. Others have mentioned on this site and my rosacea sites. The CeraVe was excellent, no burning and even the healing “seemed” to go a little faster than the Cetaphil. CeraVe is highest user rated moisturizer on the rosacea site. We known sensitive :-) Another BIG TIP: I did Fraxel:Repair face and neck. My doctor ended the procedure at the base of my neck in a rounding. I now wish I had him bring it further down onto my chest. Why? Because you’ll have a line for sometime. Now I’m turtleneck, scarf central for weeks. If I had gone further onto the chest I could wear shallow curve necks and Vnecks. I think this is really important if you’re in the South. Luckily its winter up North and nobody thinks twice about my constant turtlenecks. Line absolutely fads more and more each day. I’m now 21 days past procedure. So far so good. My significant other did a double take the other night and said, “wow, your skin is looking great.” He had been away on business trip for a week and could really see the difference. We were at a holiday party the other evening and a stranger/guest said, “You look like Nicole Kidman in Australia.” I’m attractive but if he had only seen my checks weeks before, I doubt he every would have said that. My significant other was just beaming. Every day I just pray the rosacea does not come back.
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Thanks for the review. I am scheduled to have the procedure on a portion of my face that has crape skin and my lower lip. I am having second thoughts about the procedure. I will be off 18 days from work. Do you think that's enough time so that a normal application of makeup will cover the redness without any questions?
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