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!!!!


4 Comments

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! :)
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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12 Comments

I had fraxel about 6 years ago because I had some melasma, only upper cheeks but it was the worse thing I could've done. I think the doctor must have over treated me because it kept getting worse. He even offered to give me another one for free and I just refused. Since then I've had melasma on different parts of my face. I stopped using anything after years of trying to get rid of it. I think it has actually improved after trying to do anything to it. I still have it but it covers somewhat with foundation. Haven't dared do anything again.
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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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