Active FX Vs. Deep FX - What's the Difference?

I don't get how Deep FX is any different than Active FX... Are they just different brand names? Thx

Doctor Answers 6

DeepFX vs. ActiveFX

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This is fairly simple. I have been doing both for almost a year. They represent two different ways to deliver CO2 laser energy to the skin.

The ActiveFX device uses a pattern of 1.3mm spots or hits of CO2 energy scattered over the skin. How much coverage you get depends on the density - I have used up to 96% coverage.

The DeepFX device produces a pattern of 120 micron spots of variable density from 5-25%. These beams of laser energy go fairly deep - all the way to the fat if you turn the energy up high enough.

For people with lots of sun damage, precancerous lesions, brown and reds spots, I think the ActiveFX delivers better results. The downtime is greater - around 4-6 days if you use higher energies. I haven't been happy with the amount of wrinkle improvement or skin tightening I see with the ActiveFX. I think it is more uncomfortable for the patient as well.

For people that want improvement in wrinkles and lines that are not well treated with Botox such as the around the eye, the lower lid and cheeks, I think the DeepFX therapy is the best treatment we currently have. The recovery is fast - 3 days the scabs are gone - swelling in 5-6 days and pinkness in around 10 days to 2 weeks. I see instant tightening while I do the treatments. The pain level is definitely less than the ActiveFX. The only downside is that it doesn't do as well with sun spots and the more superficial damage.


Oklahoma City Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Difference between Active FX and Total FX

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Same laser, different spot sizes. The bigger the spot size, the less deeply  the beam penetrates the skin. So the "Deep FX" spot size targets deeper lines, wrinkles, and scars, whereas the "Active FX" spot size targets pigments, superfical lines, etc.  By combining the two (Total FX) you can get  a dramatic treatment result with minimum downtime.

Some patients with severe lines and laxity still opt for  a "Max FX" (high powered Active FX). This has a longer downtime however.

Make sure you choose an experienced doctor, and they should choose the best settings for you.

Roy A. David, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon

Laser education 101

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Let me start by saying that not all skin types (pigment) are safe for all lasers.  Fraxel laser was, in its day, a breakthrough device in the world of fractional lasers.  Fractional lasers, instead of treating the entire surface, instead puts individual beams of laser energy into the tissue.  Depending of the wavelength of the laser, different things will happen.  Fraxel (brand name of a fractional laser) helped get fractional treatments started, but it is a wavelength that really can’t achieve a whole lot.  It requires multiple treatments, is rather painful, and the results are mild to moderate.

Active FX is also a fractional laser (as opposed to full field), and uses the ablative fractionated CO2 wavelength.  Active FX and Deep FX are much more precise than the old full field and fractional CO2 lasers.  Historically, CO2 lasers were not a good choice for patients with medium or darker pigment.  Too much heat, resulting in complications such as PIHP (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation) and/or scarring.  The newer fractional CO2 layers have greatly sped up the delivery of the laser energy, thereby reducing many of the complications previously associated with CO2 lasers.

Depending on the skin type of the patient, the issues we’re addressing, etc, determines which laser I use.  Often I use the Active FX and Deep FX, but many times I’ll choose erbium fractional laser or the Halo laser by Sciton, which incorporates erbium (ablative laser that sees water only), and the 1470nm laser that heats, but does not vaporize tissue.  The Halo is colorblind, and the outcomes are fantastic for a variety of issues for almost all patients.

I feel it is imperative to understand the skin physiology of all patients, and have a number of energy based tools and devices that can be used individually, or in combination, to give stunning results

I sometimes give patients this analogy:  you can take a Steinway grand piano, and an average pianist, and get a so so outcome.  Or,  you can take a concert pianist and put them on an old upright piano, and also get a so so outcome.  But, if you put a concert pianist on a Steinway grand piano, the result can be amazing.  Excellent technology, combined with a skilled medical laser specialist, yields the best and safest results, and the highest patient satisfaction

Active FX/Deep FX differences.

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Active FX has a wider spot size, whereas the Deep FX has a narrow spot size.  They can be used in combination or separately depending on what type of result the patient is after.  As with any laser treatment, appropriate settings of the laser is the most important consideration.

Benjamin Bassichis, MD, FACS
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon

Active Fx and Deep Fx are two versions of laser resurfacing.

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Active Fx is the workhorse of resurfacing and effectively treats lines, wrinkles, acnes scare and sun damage. Active Fx treats the skin with lots of tiny laser spots. Deep Fx is actually a version of the same treatment but the laser spots are much smaller and go much deeper than the Activ Fx.  I will often use the Deep Fx to treat deep wrinkles like smoker's lines or deep scars and then at the same sitting treat the entire face with the Active FX.  We call this Total Fx and this combination gives very nice results.

Susan Van Dyke, MD
Paradise Valley Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Deep FX vs Active FX

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I have been using the Encore laser for over 2 years now and to explain in simple terms, the difference is that the deep hand piece delivers energy resulting in a clean small hole to the dermis of the skin in order to affect collagen remodelling. The active handpiece lays a more superficial and larger "dot" of energy that only affects the skins surface resulting in a resurfacing of the epidermis.

Dr. Malouf

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.