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5 months post-treatment in North Carolina

I had fraxel done on a Monday 2 weeks ago, mainly...

I had fraxel done on a Monday 2 weeks ago, mainly for hyperpigmentation due to years of sun exposure while on birth control and also for mild acne scarring. An RN did the procedure and honestly, it was pretty painful. Just like others described, It felt like a very HOT rubber band was being snapped repeatedly over (and into) my face. It was especially painful in the upper lip area.

During the consultation the nurse asked if I wanted to treat aggressively to seek better results, but warned that it would mean more "down time". I do not know the settings she used so cannot post them here. Immediately after my face looked really red and pissed off. Not a lot of swelling, but very burned looking. I had circular red marks all over my face and tiny raised grid lines, like a pool screen had been wrapped tightly over my face! The heat my face felt for the first few hours was pretty bad but subsided over the next few hours.

Over the next couple of days my skin looked worse. Not swollen but the circles bronzed and turned very dark and rough. My face felt like a paper towel to the touch. The little raised grids areas turned quite dark. By Thursday I had to leave the house and tried using the mineral makeup to help hide my leopard spots but it really looked almost worse with makeup.

My face started peeling on Friday and I was able to leave the house with makeup. I was very flaky and you could still see the leopard spots through the makeup, but from a distance I didn't look so bad. The next 2 days I had a lot more peeling and the new skin was very pink with a few red and almost raw looking patches.

By Sunday morning, most of the skin literally rolled off when I showered. My new skin texture looked smoother but was VERY pink, almost red. You could still see the circle patterns but my skin wasn't as rough.

I have been wearing makeup since then because of the circle spots. My face continues to peel and although the circle spots have faded, they are still visible. It almost looks like I have verticle stripes, especially on my forehead. I have had several tiny pimples appear over the course of the last two weeks, but no cystic acne. Just surface pimples. I have worn sunscreen everyday and there is also sunscreen in the makeup I wear. I'm wondering if this is PIH and permanent, or if I can expect the red areas to continue fading. Also, is it normal for my face to continue peeling? My skin was a bit dry before the fraxel, but is definitely drier now. I have a post-op appt on Wed, but I'm starting to freak out a bit since I am still peeling and the pattern on my face hasn't disappeared. Is this normal? I look pretty good in makeup on the days I'm not too flaky because the fraxel has already improved the acne scarring but the uneveness in my skin tone is starting to worry me. Let me add that I have not picked or peeled at my skin, but have kind of allowed it to roll off under my fingertips while in the shower, starting on day 6 after the procedure.

I has been 5 weeks now. My skin tone is still not...

I has been 5 weeks now. My skin tone is still not completely uniform, but is slowly, slowly evening out. I may have a little hyperpigmentation on my temples, but I had another plastic surgeon (a friend I saw at a conference) look at my face and he said he didn't see anything that concerned him. Said it can take a while to heal when the treatment is aggressive and to just be patient. I've continued to find milia, especially on my chin and cheeks. Had a follow up visit with my RN and she suggested a chemical peel to speed along the process of evening out my skin tone and helping with the milia. I had the peel done 4 days ago. My face started shedding last night and so far, so good. The new skin that is starting to appear looks even and smooth. I will update again after I am done shedding.

It has been 9 weeks since I had my fraxel...

It has been 9 weeks since I had my fraxel treatment so I thought I'd provide an update. Overall, with regards to scarring and melasma, I would say my skin looks slightly better in some places, worse in others. Either way, I still have to wear makeup daily and I'm out the money. I actually didn't have fraxel, which is a brand of laser, but had fractional laser treatment with a Palomar laser (sorry, not sure which model or setting). At this point I would have to say that it was not worth it. A month after the procedure I still had some redness and what appeared to be mild hyperpigmentation. My RN suggested a medium chemical peel which was a combination of Salicylic 30%, Glycolic 40% to 70%, modified Jessner 14%, Alpha Beta 17%, and Retin A. This helped tremendously with the hyperpigmentation and helped some with all the milia that formed as a result of the laser. However, there are other results of the laser I should share. First, this made my acne come back with a vengeance. I struggled with mild to moderate acne throughout my teens into my early thirties but finally had it controlled for the last 10 or more years. I would recommend if you are acne-prone you might want to consider other options, like perhaps a chemical peel which actually helped clear the acne and milia the laser created. Second, the laser treatment resulted in the reappearance of old scars. I opted for laser to treat melasma and mild acne scarring. The scarring which I had is mostly still there, in addition to some old scars which had faded and were no longer really noticeable. Third, I have some new scars from the treatment, two or three tiny ice-pick scars, a scar type which I have NEVER had before. Fourth, the texture of my skin is different now, might be what others have referred to as orange peel, though mine is not consistent everywhere but is rough in patches. Finally, I can still see the tiny grid pattern in some areas on my face, especially around my chin and mouth, and in some places on my cheeks and temples. I am beginning to wonder if this will ever go away as I am now into my third skin cycle since the procedure.

I don't want to sock it to my RN, so I will try to be fair. She seemed very knowledgeable and her bedside manner was great. However, she did not go over the consent form and explain or elaborate on the potential side effects. She simply gave me the form, let me read it while I was numbing, and asked if I had any questions about it. Right before the procedure she asked if I wanted to treat a little more aggressively, which she said would result in more "down time" but with greater results. She never said the potential risks would be increased as well.

I am not on a mission to scare anyone, as some others on this site have done. I think this may be a good procedure for some, depending on their skin type and the skill of the person treating them. I would recommend, as others have, to research your facility thoroughly, and make sure you are being treated by a certified plastic surgeon, NOT their tech, and make sure they have done LOTS of these procedures. You don't want to be the 5th person they've ever treated. Also, I wouldn't recommend going to a regular MD who has obtained the certification but is NOT a plastic surgeon. I've noticed that those in the industry seem to really push the low amount of down time from laser treatment, as if you can go right back to work with what looks like a sunburn. This might be possible with a very low setting, but was not what I experienced. I looked like a swamp beast for several days so the immediate reaction to the laser can vary widely from one individual to the next. Plan on at least a week before you're ready for public display if you want to be on the safe side. I would also recommend insisting on a patch test, and if that works out ok I would then recommend a low setting treatment and only moving forward with more aggressive treatments if you are getting positive results.

I will post again if I notice any other changes over the long term, whether good or bad.

After 3 1/2 months I am continuing to feel it was...

After 3 1/2 months I am continuing to feel it was definitely not worth it. My skin looks worse with each passing month, partially from the acne that the procedure caused. My skin is still trying to purge all the milia that formed as a result of the treatment. I am noticing broken capillaries that were not there before and my color is anything but even. I am having my procedure report faxed to a plastic surgeon friend for review. Hopefully, he can make some recommendations to help fix my face. Fortunately, my results are not tragic, like some have experienced, but undesirable nonetheless.

It has now been 5 months. Fraxel definitely not...

It has now been 5 months. Fraxel definitely not worth it. My skin is improving, though. Based on a recommendation from another plastic surgeon, I am doing regularly spaced light chemical peels. I have chosen to do at-home tca peels every month. Since having the office peel in late Dec, I have now done 2 tca peels, 3 layers of 15%, at home with decent results. Using this light peel the progress is slower, but steady. I recently added dermarolling to my routine as well. Too soon to comment on that.
Southeast Med Spa and Laser Center

3 out of 5 stars Overall rating
4 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
4 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
3 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
3 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
3 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
4 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
4 out of 5 stars Payment process
2 out of 5 stars Wait tmes
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Hello 42YearsYoung, the same happened with me, pin holes scars all over my face, lines around my mouth, and on my face as well. I had profractional laser treatment 2 months ago. I was told that it would need 4-6 months to heal... Well it is getting worth, I dont see any improvement. Well it gives us a bit of hope, that the chemical peel help a bit, months by month. I have been very depressed, My skin looks much older than I was before, I am 34 years old :-(((
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hello bright crystall, I know how you feel the same thing happend to me after a laser treatment 3 years ago I am 38 now and look much older than I did plus having all the pin holes I use retin A regularly it has helped but not much.
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Hi Brightcrustall, I had Profractional and Microlaserpeel together once 3 years ago. A dermatologist did it. I have pinholes as well and my skin is worse off than it was before (I had smooth skin).
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Hi guys, I also had Fraxel done on my neck and chest about 9 months ago and have been combatting severe redness and irritation. The irritation has stopped now due to me starting Niacinamide Serum which has also helped with the orange peel texture. It is much smoother than it was. But in saying that I have had to go and have VBeam laser for the redness 3 weeks ago as I couldnt live with it anymore. It has improved it a lot but I will require another one most likely. I also have lines down both sides of my neck and chest (they are very close together) and after 9 months I have noticed they have gone from the left hand side but are still quite prominent on the right hand side. I am crossing my fingers they will also resolve on the right hand side but am a bit bewildered why the left hand side of my neck and chest has healed yet the right hand side hasnt. I am the same as 42YearsYoung, I look in the mirror and see them quite clearly but some days I cant. I think it depends on the light. Anyway it has affected my self esteem greatly. I am 51 and I am from Australia
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Hi Christina,
That is good news, I am glad that you see progress.
Indeed, wait at least 9 months before doing any medium peels. And please stay away from the deep one.
If you cross by Paris, we could meet.
Please write to me on my email:n****@gmail.com
I will remove email from here after you will answer.

Hugs,
Natalia

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Sent you a personal email and a Facebook friend request. Go ahead and remove your email address from this site :)
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Natalia, I have noticed a small improvement in skin texture and new scarring from the tca peels. I think I would see more drastic results using a medium to deep peel but I'm scared to do anything agressive with my skin right now. The post-laser acne eventually subsided, maybe due to the peels and I now use a Clarisonic.

I will let you know if I decide to do any more peels before next fall/winter. The sun is getting intense here in the states, too, though I am moving to Europe in about 3 months and I think it will be less intense where I'm going.

In the meantime, keep me updated on any progress you might have and I will do the same.
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Hi Christina,
Thank you for your feedback and your warm words. I am trying all my best to go on but it is not easy at all...
As for the peels, I am glad that it helps you, and if you see the improvements it is a good sign. I really wish you recover completely in few months. I guess I will have to wait with the TCA as sun is getting more intense here (I live in Europe). Even though I am not so much outside (just go to work and back home), I prefer to wait. Is TCA helping you with the skin texture and new scarring as well (scars from the lazer and dots/grid lines), or you notice improvements for the pigmentation only? As for acne, I dont know if it helpful for you, but to fight acne I use Epiduo gel (adaptale 0,1% and peroxyde de benzoyle 2,5%) applied topically on pimples and thermal water to spray on face daily. Also, I almost stopped eating sugar and reduced consumption of diary products (milk, cheese, etc.). In my case it is not a big deal, I don't have appetite past months anyway.
Thank you again for writing back to me and your support,

Hugs,
Natalia
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Natalia, I am so sorry to hear how unhappy you've been. It sounds like your laser effects were much worse than mine. I never slipped into severe depression or contemplated the value of my life. Don't give up!

I can't tell you what you should do, as each of us responds differently to the different treatments out there - something you and I learned the hard way. What I can do is tell you what's been helping me. I did have a chemical peel about 1 month post-treatment which helped a lot with the hyperpigmentation. Since then, I have done 2 more peels, both 18% TCA peels that I have done myself at home. The improvement is slow but I can see a small difference for the better with each peel. I have just added dermarolling to my routine, but don't want to say much about it since I just started and can't really judge the effects of this yet. Time seems to help, but I still have some random grid areas on my face. I don't think they are very noticeable to anyone but me. Honestly, I can only see them when I stand inches away from the mirror. If I take a couple steps back, I can't really say whether they would be noticeable to others. However, it has been 5 months since my laser procedure so I'm beginning to wonder if the grids will ever go away unassisted on their own. Concerning at-home peels, some people have had undesirable side effects doing them at home without a professional. Personally, I have had good results, and I am led to believe the vast majority of people who do at home peels (especially at lower strengths) have positive results. It is quite inexpensive and I can do a peel myself every 3 to 4 weeks. I will probably discontinue the peels after the next one, what with the sun sensitivity and summer around the corner. I will try to remember to post a follow up after a few weeks of dermarolling to share the results of that.

Please try to keep your spirits up, Natalia. I promise to pray for you that you will be able to find peace and comfort despite your current circumstances.

Hugs,
Christina
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Hello 42 Years Young,
Thank you for sharing your story.
I would like to ask how you feel now.
I am 32. In late December 2011 I also was treated with the same type of laser (fractional Co2) to treat few mild acne. In my case it was Deka laser (DOT technique), and now I am experiencing few of the side effects you listed. In addition to pigmentation and pop-up acne after laser procedure, I still see grid (stripes) lines from the laser, and most scarring, NEW SCARS, many of small scars (which I never had before). When I first came back to the doctor after the treatment a month after he did the procedure, he ensured me that the marks from the laser would go away in 2-3 months. When I saw him 3 months after, he gave me another timeline (4-5 months), and etc. etc. I cannot trust him especially after considering the fact he he promoted this procedure to me as "ABSOLUTELY risk-free"! He did not give me ANY documents to read or to sign before the procedure and he said I would recover in 3 to 5 days! I have been to other doctors consultations and the only thing they suggest now is to come back in autumn to do another laser (IPL) to improve my skin condition. I am too scared now to think about other laser procedures. Last few months I was in big depression because of what happened and that affected my life tremendously. I am afraid to socialize with other people and hide at home all of my free time. Everything became meaningless...I cannot describe with words what I feel now, and all antidepressants I am taking now help very little.
I would really appreciate if you share how your skin heals and what treatment/medicine you use. Also, if anything can be done for what people describe as "orange peel" and mild scarring caused by fractional Co2 laser, please write to me.
At this point I do not know how to continue living anymore...

Thank you,
Natalia
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Hi Natalia I too had problems with my laser treatment I had mine in 2010 and still have orange peel skin and wonderhow you are doing?
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Hey dear. Well, I have some recovery signs but far from the condition my skin was before this laser procedure. It is still hyper-pigmented (especially on my forehead) despite of the bleaching creams I regularly use and the scars received from the laser are still there (less visible though). Past 10 months I went to 30 different doctors (at least!) in a search for a remedy but what I understood is that no ideal medicine exists at this point to correct all the damage. The best way is to be gentle to skin (avoid any aggressive procedures) and let it heal slowly. Another problem is that it is difficult to treat pigmentation and scars at the same time. To improve scars one has to go more aggressive but then you do this it is 99% risk to get more pigmentation on already pigmented skin. One point from my experience, female doctors are more knowledgeable in dermatological problems and they do consider multiple factors when deciding possible treatments while male doctors are more willing to take a risk. You can write to me in private to share more details between two of us. I did lots of research myself on different lasers and skin health in general. It is hurting so much when I realize how "stupid" that doctor was to do this to me. This was an esthetic procedure and not a necessary surgery! The rule should be "do not harm" (at least!!!). Well, my life has totally changed.... but one cannot go back in time.... The only positive thing is that I am going to become an expert in dermatology due to so much time invested in research and learning + my experience...
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Natalia - a year later and I know how you feel! Wish I could do it over again but I'm stuck with this skin now. I think there may be some procedures that might help but no more aggressive treatments or "miracles" for me. I still have some hyper pigmentation but my bigger complaint are the "pin dots", as someone called them which are still visible in some areas, especially around my mouth. Also scarring. Now that winter is here and I have to worry about sun exposure a little less I think I'll probably start up again with some light to medium peels..
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I wish I could tell you more about patch tests, but since I didn't have one I'm not sure how long you would need to wait to make sure you didn't have undesirable results. My skin looked better in the first month post-treatment and has worsened over time. I think it looked better since I had "micro-swelling" that initially made my entire face pink and my scars less visible. Now that all swelling is gone, my scars are more visible than ever and my face is more blotchy than before. You can still see the "grid" pattern on my face, though it's only pretty close up. I've been told that IPL may help with the blotchiness but I'm scared to try any more lasers. I've also been told that a series of light to medium chemical peels may help. Personally, I wish I'd never done the procedure, but there are people who've had great results. I would definitely ask how many fraxel procedures the dr has done. Don't do it if the number is very low. Good luck to you, whatever you decide.
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Hello,
Just wondering how your skin is now? Has it recovered? I have just signed up a few sessions with a fairly reputable clinic and their procedures are done by a doctor (not sure of his qualification but the clinic has been here for 10 years). I have yet to do my 1st session but a bit hesitant now that i have read a few bad experience with laser. The one I signed up for is fractional laser for rejunevation (not the resurfacing type which is more aggressive). I'm thinking what you said about doing a patch test, because I'm not sure if the doctor would do that for me and how long do i need to wait to see if the patch test is "safe"?
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She recommended a light to medium chemical peel post-laser to help with the redness and milia, which I wrote about in my update. The peel worked wonders and the redness on my forehead has evened out. My cheeks are another matter, but it's probably more a result from the laser-induced acne so they are blotchy and red and look pretty terrible :(
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Hi, I had fractional done3 years ago and have been left with a mess. It started out looking good because the first few months I swollen so any wrinkles that I had were plumped up. I did however have pin dots all over my face and they have never gone away. The worst is the fact that over the first I started to see lines on my upper lip and chin which were never there. Now my chin and upper lip looks about 70 years old. I am very depressed and feel that I am extremely ugly. Thought about a deep peel but just don't know.
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So sorry to hear this Kelly. I don't know about deep peels. I have had positive results with medium peels, though nothing drastic or life changing. I'm scared to go deeper, I'm scared to do anything aggressive now.
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Hi kelly I know how you feel I also had one 3years ago and am left with lots of pin holes and lines I am only 38 and always looked younger than my age not to mention had smooth nice skin I dont look like my self anymore and feel so depressed some days and want to hide in the house but am the mother of 4 so thats not an option.
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Hi 42yearsyoung, what results did you get from the med peel i have alot of reddness and pin holes that look like large pores all over my face and wonder if a peel could help me?
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Hi 42years, 

It sounds like what the other community members consider to be mild hyperpigmentation. Have you gone to see what your doctor says? 

Thanks, 

-Britt

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