Don't Bother with Fraxel for Melasma - New York, NY

I am 42, with generally great, super-pale skin....

I am 42, with generally great, super-pale skin. Just a few fine lines, and some mottling due to melasma (on cheeks, and temple), plus some very minor redness on my chin and nose, and a couple scars. Fraxel Re:Store was presented as some great Fix-All way to address these concerns. I paid 3 grand for a package of 4.

I am not paranoid--I use Botox and a little Juvederm, and happily microderm and glycolic peel my face. Plus I had rhinoplasty and lip implants (don't to those--I'm like the only person on earth who had a good experience with them. In fact, most doctors won't do them anymore.). I mention these so you know I'm NOT against cosmetic procedures as a rule. But Fraxel is, in my mind, a TOTAL turkey.

My doctor is a good guy, and his assistant, who did the Re:Store treatment, appears competent. But this equipment has me spooked. In fact, four months after starting Fraxel (bought a package of 4, of which I have done 3), I can honestly advise: DON'T BOTHER. It doesn't help dermal melasma (from birth control pills) in any meaningful way. Or with my facial scarring.

I swelled up like a pink pumpkin after treatment, and really looked weird for about a week, especially under the eyes. I am grateful for that, because in some way, I think it indicates that I still have good circulation/healing in my face...I've always bruised/swollen easily anyway, and I'm hoping this means my body is good at recovery because I am now *seriously* afraid of the long-term negative effects of this largely time-untested treatment.

The treatment was extremely painful for me, even after an hour of numbing cream. I squirmed the whole time and had to take multiple breaks during the 8 passes over various parts of my face. The air hose, blowing cold air, was only helpful in distracting me from the pain. Unlike some here, I didn't smell any burning or see any red dots on my face after--either of which would have stopped me in my tracks!!!

After reading the horror stories here, I am going to forego the last treatment and ask for reliable glycolic peels instead. I am wary of the long-term effects. So far, the only bad effect I can see is extreme dryness/brownish redness under my eyes, right on on the ridge of my cheekbones. That only showed up two weeks ago, and I'm hoping it's temporary. I had the last Fraxel in, I think, early January.

Yep, I wear physical block sunscreen, don't ever allow direct sun on my face, and moisturize religiously--but still, no real change in the dark spots, and now this mystery crap under my eyes. Which I plan to treat as if it were a burn, because I believe on some cellular level it is. (I will be doing acupuncture treatment to the face, to restore blood flow, as well as using topical herbal burn remedy by Blue Poppy).

I have not seen any laser scars or dot/track marks on my face, yet. No new wrinkles or scary skin laxity, yet. But I am on the lookout. My pores do appear somewhat smaller, and it def. temporarily improved fine lines--which didn't bother me to begin with. Didn't do SQUAT for the piercing scars on my face, or the scar on my chin from a childhood accident, and it was of no use whatsoever for the melasma.

In fact, one wee red capillary on the side of my nose looks bigger. Gee, thanks Fraxel--that's awesome!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I don't get any of the nightmare long-term damage that people report here. I don't care about the lack of improvement at this point. If I escape with no permanent damage, I'll consider that victory enough!!!!


 

 

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What type of Fraxel were you treated with? Was Fraxel 1927 out at the time. I hear it's specifically designed to treat hyper-pigmentation.
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I'm going to my original derm who did the Fraxel tomorrow, to ask him a) how damaged I am b) if it's permanent c) how Fraxel *really* "works." I get varying reports online, and I'd like to hear directly from him. I am most interested in, of course, the recoverability of my skin, and what, if he can figure it out, caused the redness and broken capillaries. Upside? Yes, my fine lines are improved. For now. So that's one "success" from Fraxel, but that wasn't what I got it for anyway. The real reasons I got it: To improve my hormone-caused dark spots and overall skin texture, I saw NO improvement. Still. If anything, my skin texture is worse, and I'm ruddy, itchy, dry, and irritated. If I'd had any idea, I never would have spent this $$$$$.
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Generally, people aren't going to type 'fraxel destroyed my face' into google before getting done are they?! I wish I had however as that's basically what it's done to me. I only had the areas under my eyes treated for melasma. Now there is a terribly defined difference between where the fraxel was used and where my skin has been untouched, it's like 2 giant tattoo's making me look like a panda. I have avoided the sun like crazy and if I do go out in the sun it's with factor 30 and sunglasses and only for a short period of time. Seriously don't get it done, I'm a 30 year old Aussie male, it's not like I can put on make up to cover up this disaster without fear of some seriously heavy teasing from every one I know. It's horrible - HORRIBLE!!
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I'm so sorry! I have darkness under my eyes, too--it showed up after the 3rd Fraxel. Went to a derm yesterday (not the one who did the Fraxel) and she said it's dry skin and broken capillaries. MIght be the same for you. She said IPL could treat the broken caps--but I'm afraid of lasers now!! Maybe see another derm to find out if you have broken capillaries, too? At least there's some hope to reverse the side-effects--if you're not too chicken like me!
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Would you mind sending a current update of what is going on with your skin? I am going to be 28 in August and am to be married on October 12th this year (2012) and have been seriously considering the Fraxel. Do you still have dry patches? Is your skin normal now? Thanks for your time! I have been dealing with this melasma for almost 7 years now and am super frustrated and willing to do anything to make it better!! (The best thing that has helped me with my melasma is a red light I bought to use at home, called the Baby Quasar...Thanks!

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LOL at new head. I was thinking NY is really expensive and I thought San Diego was bad.
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Thank god it's not that bad yet! But by the time I'm ready for a facelift (as close to a new head as a girl can get...), it probably will be about that much. In fact, I think if you go to someone top-flight like Frank Ryan in Beverly Hills, you get soaked for at least that much *now*. I think I may cultivate my inner beauty instead. It's cheaper. ;) In the meantime, I'm getting hooked up with some medical-grade burn cream for this ridiculous Fraxel redness/tenderness under my eyes. Wish me luck!
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What did you pay 43 grand for?
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OMG, they listed the number wrong! It's 4 treatments for $3000/total, not $43000! I'd want a whole new head for that much money. Haha! :)
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Oops! I don't think our form liked "4/3000" or whatever it said originally. I've corrected it now. Good luck with your new head. :)

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LOL! Thanks! I've asked Angelina Jolie for a duplicate of hers. :)
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Yep--wish I'd read through before trying it! :) Nice of you to reply. It helps this site's credibility when a doc weighs in without defending a procedure or product, so thanks for that. Cross your fingers for me that my skin holds up!
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Sorry, but the Fraxel treatments are very unpredictable for happy results. Here on RealSelf.com ONLY 55% had a positive review. That means to me you had a 50/50 chance in obtaining an acceptable result. To me those are bad odds. Again Sorry. From MIAMI
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Yep--wish I'd read through before trying it! :) Nice of you to reply. It helps this site's credibility when a doc weighs in without defending a procedure or product, so thanks for that. Cross your fingers for me that my skin holds up! I am going to the doc to ask for some pharmaceutical-grade burn creams for my funky, dry under-eye patches. So far, 6 weeks since the last Fraxel, my skin otherwise seems to be holding up okay. No improvement, but no signs of damage, so far.
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I think that the positive outcomes are even less than 55%. Very often Fraxel damage only shows up many months later and most of the people claiming positive results do so shortly after treatment. They are not yet aware of the damage that has been caused deep in the dermis which only appears at a later stage. In my opinion the Fraxel laser should be removed from the market because it is destroying and aging so many people's faces on a regular basis.
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