So I bought a package of 4 fraxel laser treatments and on April 4, 2012 I completed my third treatment. I see a lot of people saying they've had poor experiences and so forth but I feel it's important to point out a number of things when considering fraxel.
First, fraxel laser is PAINFUL, there is no doubt about it! However, if you want to see the results and depending on the types of scars you have (I had deep pitted scars), you will have to try to bare the pain. If you go to a professional clinic, they will apply numbing cream to your face and allow it to sit for at least 45 minutes before proceeding with the treatment. The numbing cream works quite well but if you're going to a professional place, they will do the procedure by passing. What does this mean? This means they'll do 4 laser passes in an up and down motion and 4 laser passes in a right to left motion. The first 4 passes up and down are tolerable with the cream, but the next 4 going right to left were extremely painful so I had to ask them to cut it down to 2 or 3 passes. Also, I made it clear on my first day that I did not want the technician to start at a low level; I knew I could tolerate pain and I knew the higher the level, the more drastic the result. Thus, I started at a level that people do not typically reach until their 3rd treatment. This is an important note! If you start at the low levels, improvement will be minimal! The individuals who see improvement after 1 or 2 treatments probably request the treatments to be done at higher levels because on average you need at least 4-5 treatments to see GOOD, NOTICEABLE results (dependent on your scarring).
Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures before my first treatment but luckily the clinic did that. I will post them when I can but in the meantime I will post pictures of what to expect. The first picture was right after the treatment once I got home. You can expect your skin to be red, swollen and puffy. The scars might look like they're gone but don't be fooled, your skin is just swollen and giving that appearance! You have to wait 2 weeks for the swelling to go down and keep in mind you won't see results immediately, you have to wait and the skin will slowly regenerate to fill in. The second picture is the day after. It is COMPLETELY NORMAL to see this type of patterning on your skin, it's apart of the process and it's a good sign to this. Keep your skin well moisturized and most importantly STAY OUT OF THE SUN! If you want to go into the sun, protect your skin as much as you can. A lot of people got worse scars after fraxel because they exposed their skin to the sunlight or some for of UV without proper protection and just blamed it on the laser. The little dots usually start to clear by the 3rd day after and are 90% gone by a week after. So this procedure requires at least a week downtime but you're able to resume everyday life after. Hope this helps!