I am 34 years of age and I had the Fraxel CO2 treatment done 6 days ago. I will try to explain as best I can the procedure and the 5 days of recovery I have so far marked off my calendar!
Day 1: Fraxel treatment, I had my entire face done to even out my skin tone (I have melasma). The doctor applies a numbing cream to help with the pain... Guess what? it still HURT A LOT. On a scale from 1 to 10, I'd say a 9. It is especially painful around the mouth area and the hairline. I would definitely advise taking a painkiller of sorts prior to treatment. Your face feels like it's on fire after the treatment.
My doctor had a hand-held fan ready for me after treatment. EXTREMELY USEFUL, I recommend you have one with you when you go.
Day 2: Skin extremely red (raw) and dry with some brown areas which I attribute to charred skin, very painful. Hurts to wash your face and apply ointments (neosporin, vaseline creams to keep face moist)
Day: 3: Red skin has now turned brown - thin scabbing (previously red and raw areas have dried and is now brown thin scab). Skin feels extremely dry even though I keep moisturizing it. Skin feels very tight indicating peeling will occur soon.
Throughout the day I go to work (looking like Freddy Krueger), by the time I get home around 6pm I am already starting to peel. My face is extremely itchy and I keep applying neosporin, wiping it off due to itchiness and find that each time I do, dead skin covers the tissue I am using to wipe off my face. Thus I repeat this cycle of lubing and wiping until my face is scab-free. Mind you, I am not forcing it. It is coming off with ease. I guess all that lubing up for three days paid off! I am, however, raw and sore, afterwords.
Day 4: Dang! I break out in a cold sore. Guess I didn't start my Valtrex soon enough. I took it the day of treatment. Should have doubled the dose and taken it before. lol. Compared to my last 3 days, I will certainly survive this, just be careful not to mess with it, I don't want it to spread. My skin now looks like a bad sunburn. No more brown charring or scabs. I have grown a "new skin" and a new round of peeling has already begun. This one is a normal peel. White peel, not scabs, flaking off. Hardly noticable.
Day 5: Today!: Wake up and I am not as red. Except for a few red blotches here and there and the general appearance of a mild sunburn, my skin looks great. These blotches will dissipate in a few days I'm sure. I go to work and my co-workers notice how the healing is progressing fairly fast. My skin has a much smoother appearance and my cold sore is already on the mend. My friend looks for my old melasma spots and can't detect any. I am still a little red, so an official diagnosis cannot be made yet.
In conclusion, though a painful process to go through, I see a difference in my skin tone (more even) and my general appearance as a whole. My face is much smoother already, fresher/youthful looking. This procedure is not for the weak! lol. It's painful, but worth the results. I still have some healing to do but am seeing great improvement, as already mentioned, already. If I had to do it differently, I would have taken a painkiller prior to treatment, cold sore medicine for two days before treatment, and planned on being out of work for 3 days after treatment.