Here goes nothing. I promised myself I would write a review after my procedure since www.realself.com was invaluable to me before (and during recovery from) Total FX. I've also decided to attach photos so you can judge for yourself. Both before photographs were taken before Botox and Total FX - these treatments work great in tandem. Both after shots are after the combo.
If I can help a couple people make this decision, the public outing is worth it. This is scary, important and wonderful stuff that requires diligent research.
I just turned 33. When I started looking into procedures, my friends said I was crazy. I didn't look too delapidated yet, so everyone thought it was the height of vanity/folly to start thinking about less extreme procedures to avoid major work (i.e. anything involving a scalpel) down the road. Boy, am I glad I did! Honestly, when you check out the before and afters, I didn't realize how rough around the edges I was starting to look. Procedures like Botox and Total FX actually slow down the aging process (Botox since new wrinkles are less apt to form where the skin has been paralyzed and Active FX since your skin is regenerated deeply and new collagen forms for up to six months and all of the damaged "sun spots" are removed so your skin is in fact healthier) and that was an important consideration for me too. To shell out $2500 bucks for my face, I needed to know that it would be worth it for a long, long time.
I actually found my provider by attending a skincare open house. They had good reviews on Yelp and that sort of thing, but I didn't know anyone who had been there. While wandering around their gorgeous facility (filled with gorgeous people) I met Natalie who was standing next to an imposing looking laser machine. I was thinking of doing a bit of Botox, but since I was there, I asked her a few questions. She explained to me the benefits of fractional laser resurfacing - evening out of pigmentation, reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, reduction of sagging, etc. I was thinking of leaving my job and going into a more client-facing arena, so after consulting with my husband via cellphone, I signed up for (and paid for) the Total FX treatment that very night. Bold, I know, but I wanted to take advantage of the open house discount. I like discounts. Who doesn't? And I figured I'd kick myself if I decided to do it three months later and pay hundreds of dollars more...(a little insight into my psyche).
So that left me in the position of having to figure out post-committment what I'd gotten myself into. Lots of differing opinions on this treatment and I hoped that I'd picked a reputable provider. Turns out I made a fabulous choice. If you're in SoCal, go here. And for karma points, say I sent you. They know I'm not shy with my effusiveness for this place and this procedure.
Two weeks prior to Total FX was Botox: Plan was for me to get Botox to reduce crow's feet two weeks prior to the Total FX. It's good to go in this order so that the skin around the eyes is where you want it to be before doing the lasers. Love Botox. It does exactly what it should. You can see in the photos, even when not smiling, you could see substantial wrinkles around my eyes. After Botox and Total FX, they're gone - plain and simple.
About a week before my Total FX procedure: I had a pre-op meeting with Natalie and we went over the necessary prep (pre-procedure Valtrex, need to have antibiotics on hand just in case, Valium for during procedure and pain meds). I also got to see several before and afters of folks who had given permission for others to see their mugs (seriously folks - it's so helpful - be proud of your procedures!). I was warned that my results would not be as dramatic as those of a 60-year old (since I had less to correct) but I should expect a lot of improvement.
Day of procedure: Nervous, but excited. Somewhat loopy from the meds (good thing I arranged for a ride home). Put the numbing cream all over my face and waited for an hour. Then the procedure. Natalie wielded the laser and her assisant followed as closely as she could with a cold air blower to try to reduce the pain. I think Active FX was first, followed by Deep FX, but I can't be sure - I was pretty out of it. It hurt. A lot. I told them before the procedure - if you can assure me that you're not doing anything to kill me, I'll tough it out and deal with the pain because I want you to be able to do your job and most importantly, I want the best results possible. The promised, and it hurt. Positive part: they only concentrated on each section for a few seconds, so the worst (on any given patch of skin) was somewhat short lived.
Husband picked me up and was gracious but horrified. I looked soooooo rough. I don't remember much of that evening (it was also my birthday - I like to go big - so people were calling, etc.) and I don't remember some of it. I spent the next day, a Saturday, pretty much holed up in bed. The day after that, I felt better, but looked ridiculous. Like "too embarrassed to puchase a movie ticket and sit in the dark" ridiculous. The next day and the next - ridiculous.
You have to use occlusive oinment on your face to aid in the healing and protect your skin. I used Aquaphor. Your face is one hot, gross, seething mass of goo and brown spots and bright red underneath. My face swelled up to at least twice it's normal size. It itched. It was near impossible to sleep for those first several nights. The best part of the day was the four times a day I was allowed to wash my face and get some of the gunk off. I did not need to use any of the heavy painkillers after day one and I did not need to use any of the antibiotics. Email me if you want a "during recovery" picture. In fact, I started to worry that I might never look like a human again after about day three and I was so frustrated with myself since all of this was self-imposed vanity. I really did start to freak for a bit.
My nearly two-year old twins took it in stride. I thought they'd be upset; they did not seem to notice. I was also convinced that my face was emanating a fetid smell, but my husband says I'm crazy.
Then, around day five: light at the end of the tunnel. The sloughing process was nearly complete and though I was pretty darn pink, I no longer looked like a freak show. I'll now know if I see someone with skin that color that they are post-treatment and give them a little hand signal. Thereafter, progress was lightning quick. Quite simply: my skin is gorgeous now. Brown spots gone. Wrinkles gone. Drooping eyelids (didn't even know they were starting to droop until I saw the "afters") gone. And my skin is just going to improve.
The most amazing thing to me is that my "befores" were taken right before the Botox. I was on my way to work and wearing make-up so that was the absolute best I was going to look for the day. The "afters" were post facial (about a month after Total FX) so I didn't have a lick of make-up on and my face had just been subjected to extractions. Pretty impressive, no?
Now I'm about six weeks out from the procedure. I am RELIGIOUS about sunscreen (super, duper high SPFs) and am very careful not to pick at my skin since it's still healing. Due for Botox again at the end of June and have signed up for monthly facials to protect my investment. The facility (especially Natalie) was there for me every single step of the way. Knowledgeable, lovely, serious, but funny. I could not say more about how comfortable they made me feel about this somewhat intense procedure. I'm a customer for life now. And to think I just stumbled in...
Don't hesitate to contact me if you want "during recovery" photos (I wish I'd seen some just so I'd have known what to expect - it's pretty bad). Good luck!