Disatrous Experience, Hyperpigmentation! Caused Severe Anxiety for 9 Months -Toronto, ON

Hello: I've had a disastrous experience after a...

Hello: I've had a disastrous experience after a single Fraxel restore treatment. For those contemplating Fraxel, beware! Stick to what works, good skin hygiene, sunscreen, retin-A, etc.

My experience has caused a full-blown anxiety disorder: yes--it's been that bad. I've gone on benzos, ssris, and see a counselor through my university. I'm a white, 26 year old male of German descent.

After the redness of the Fraxel subsided, I was left with dermal post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation on ONE cheek (dark shadow-like marks) as well as other small problems. Perhaps this was the technician's fault: she went deeper on one side rather than the other. The redness took months to fade: so much for Fraxel being a "Friday night procedure."

I went to see a dermatologist who told me that the dermal PIH would fade with time. Topicals, as many of us know, won't really help if the pigmentation is lodged deep within the dermis. Thankfully, after 9 months, 70% of it has faded, and I presume it will all go eventually. Despite this apparent happy ending, emotionally, it destroyed me for months. I looked like a baseball player with a dark patch under his eye. I still suffer to this day.

It doesn't end there. Fraxel also left me with a different kind of pigmentation...a kind of light-brown stain on the bridge of my nose. I know that dermal PIH is usually characterized by the shadow-like effect: despite the more brownish discoloration of this pigmentation, I still think it's dermal as it has NOT faded whatsoever in 8 months. I began 2 months ago with 6% HQ + Retin A with no avail. Granted, the pigmentation is light, but still visible. Conveniently, the clinicians at my clinic claim they can't see it.

Oh, and I never saw any of the beneficial results they sold me on in terms of mild acne scarring. My face is still much more sensitive than it once was. The clinician "promised" that the PIH would go away. I'm so upset that I'm considering a lawsuit. They gave me my money back, but refuse to see me anymore and fix what they did to my skin.

For those veterans on the board dealing with similar issues, I have a few questions for you:

1) Should I continue with the 6% HQ+RA? It no longer irritates my skin, but as I said, doesn't seem to be working. I've been looking into dermarolling used in conjunction with HQ for better penetration. I ordered a .3mm dermaroller from Ebay. Oddly, the HQ doesn't seem to have any lightening effect on my skin, even in areas that I've dabbed that surround the pigmented areas.

2) Will this pigmentation stain fade eventually? I know PIH almost always fade, but we are approaching the 10 month mark and I have yet to see any difference. Why is it a different color than the other pigmentation I had, and why hasn't it slowly faded as the other type has?

3) Is the fact that the pigment is on the bridge of my nose relevant? Obviously the skin is thinner here; logic leads me to believe that topicals should work as they might more easily penetrate. Alas, I also suspect that blood-flow in this area is less, and thus healing can be much delayed.

4) What other alternatives should I try? I've also purchased a TCA 15% peel, but I'm terrified it will make the pigmentation worse. What about Q-switched lasers? I know these can penetrate the dermis, but the pigmentation is very light and I'm unsure as to whether the Q-switch would pick it up...regardless, I'm very reticent to touch another laser. Another option is the Cosmelan/Dermamelan treatment: I know it's supposed to mask the entire face, but I would only want it placed on the pigmented spots.

I very much appreciate any responses. This whole episode has caused me much agony, anxiety, and suffering. Thank you very much.

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