Had hypopigmentation on my chest, caved to the clinic's marketing bs.
3 years ago I came to Dr. Polis for a consultation for the skin on my chest which had small areas of hypopigmentation. She said the only treatment for it was fraxel and then left me there to watch a video put out by the company on how great it works on melasma (a term I had never heard before, nor ever diagnosed with). I was excited that there was a low risk procedure I could do for this and when she came back in I was enthusiastic. She then said if I did it on my face too I'd get a better deal, which took me off guard. she, herself had commented on how good my face looked and I didn't have any complaints.
In passing, almost subliminally she mentioned that "all those little lines will go away too". I left her office in a confused state but her psychology began working on me over the following days and weeks. I researched the procedure and started thinking about all the latent sun damage I must have.. "could this be a way to stave off skin cancer?" Surely! As I read good reviews (later realizing you have to get to sites like this one before you start hearing the bad..) I became more interested.
One post gave me pause.. a woman who had thought she had a successful procedure, found the following summer, despite her best efforts to protect her skin from the sun, dark brown spots appearing all over her face. I called the office the next day to find out what the risks of hyperpigmentation would be. I got the answering machine, left a message with my question but never received a call back. I thought highly of Dr. Polis and decided that this was probably a fluke. Still, the day of my appt., with my mom in tow, I asked Dr. Polis's assistant about the real risks to which she answered I'd only get hyperpigmentation if I left the appt and went straight to the beach. I voiced the same concern to Polis to which she said not to worry, I should just lay back and go to Hawaii (a reference to the drug-induced lala land).
After the first procedure my skin healed well and I looked great. I considered not going in for a second appt. but the assistant called repetitively trying to convince me to do more. I tried to schedule an appt for just the chest and again, got more pressure to do both chest and face. It all felt wrong at the time but I just didn't want to admit that I was being bullied by salespeople who were just trying to make as much money off of me as possible. For reasons still a puzzle to me.. I caved and made a second appt. I decided I would tell Dr. Polis to use the same setting.. I had read where Dr's would typically turn up the juice on the second round and of the few bad reports I'd read, they'd been due to this. However, since Dr. Polis only makes an appearance after the prep, I was totally drugged up by the time she arrived.
I remember her saying that since I had such good results she was going to turn it up and my stomach churned but.. my trust and my drugged state prevented me saying anything. The procedure was much more painful than the first and my face remained on fire for days.. red, swollen and severe looking. I kept myself hidden, took every precaution instructed but noticed dark areas forming on my cheeks. I now know this was the beginning of PIH however, I had never heard that term at the time and certainly was not warned of this phenomenon.
I went back to see Polis a couple months later when it was evident that there were two brown spots that hadn't been there before and weren't going away. She seemed evasive and unsettled, barely looked at me, chalked it up to sun exposure (even though I told her I'd been wearing the sunscreen she prescribed religiously every day) and handed me Triluma (hydroquinone..). That's when I really started getting a clue.
I chucked the Triluma after reading some horror stories (again, she communicated no risks other than allergic reaction). Fast forward to today: I continue to battle my fraxel acquired Melasma which has spread and is very difficult to keep at bay. I also now have rosacea and ocular rosacea which, though I do not blame solely on fraxel, I do believe it's onset was hastened by it. I was so angry at Dr. Polis and her clinic that I couldn't bear talking to anyone there again. I have seen many dermatologists since who have agreed that my skin woes today are likely due to this procedure.
Look, I think laser technology is amazing but there is a lot left to be learned about what it does when applied to our skin. I have since read more stories of people having PIH turned melasma like mine as a result of the procedure. It's not a coincidence and these Drs are playing with fire.. on your face! Don't let them!