Fraxel laser - how painful?

I have recently become interested in having a fraxel treatment or chemical peel. I do not have deep wrinkles yet and thankfully very few fine lines. The issue is I am constantly told bt people that their fracels treatments were 'agony' and that they cried for a week etc I am curious as to the recovery time,the pain level, and of maybe these ppl ae just exaggerating?

Doctor Answers 9

Pain not an issue with Fraxel laser

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Any laser or surgical procedure will give pain, the question is how do we minimise pain. This is where a specialist who performs laser and surgical procedures comes in. Firstly, the video shows how I use Fraxel to treat sun spots. 

For this procedure, we use a numbing gel, with or without nerve blocks. This markedly reduces the pain of Fraxel 1927-1550 (Fraxel ReStrore). If Co2 Fraxel (Re:Pair) were to be considered, I always perform this procedure under sedation. 

Pain should not be the problem, it is the specialists job to find the solution for each treatment and individual. 

Dr Davin Lim 
Laser and aesthetic dermatologist
Brisbane, Australia. 

There are various types of Fraxel lasers and downtime will vary depending upon the laser.

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There are various types of Fraxel lasers, and the pain level and downtime will vary depending on which one you choose to have. Ablative CO2 lasers are the most painful, but also give the most dramatic results after a single treatment. The Fraxel Repair is an ablative laser, and most people will require a numbing cream, oral medication, or local injections in order to manage the pain level. The recovery time should not be too painful as long as you are diligent about keeping out of the sun and using over the counter painkillers as necessary. Full recovery may take up to a week, during which time you’ll appear red and sunburnt. Fraxel Restore and Fraxel Dual are less intense and do not require a long downtime. Visit a board-certified dermatologist for an in person consultation to see if you are a candidate for a Fraxel treatment or another kind of laser resurfacing treatment, and discuss with them your expectations regarding pain and downtime as well as the specific skin issues you’d like to have treated.

Karen Beasley, MD
Baltimore Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews


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Fraxel is a laser skin rejuvenation treatment that resurfaces your outer skin, erasing imperfections. It also encourages the production of collagen, a protein found in connective tissue.The result is clearly visible lines, folds and wrinkles. Fraxel laser skin rejuvenation is a non-invasive technique that affects only about 20 percent of the facial skin exposed to it. The most common side effects of Fraxel laser treatment are swelling and skin redness, which should subside within a couple of days. Other temporary side effects may include minor itching, dry skin, peeling or flaking, and a bronzed skin appearance. The risk of infection or scarring is very limited. You should stay out of the sun 2-4 weeks. You do put numbing cream on for one hour before this procedure so it should not be that painful. 

Elliot M. Heller, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 96 reviews

How painful is the Fraxel Laser?

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We use a great Fractional Diode here in our office called Clear &Brilliant by Solta. There is little to no downtime with it, which makes it so remarkable and sought after. Your skin type and the texture & tone of your skin determine which hand piece will be used. The Clear&Brilliant is 1440nm, and the Permea is 1927nm. We like to use topical numbing cream for 30+ minutes prior to treating, and the procedure itself should only take about 30-40 minutes. We treat at the HIGHEST level with each treatment, and use 100% of the tip. I hope this helps you make an informed decision.Be well.#fractionaldiode   #finelinesandwrinkles   #decreaseporesize

Facial Aging and Lasers like Fraxel/Clear + Brilliant, RF like VIVA, Peels, Fillers, Skin Care, Face Lift, Fat Injections

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all my younger patients do fraxel as a preventative treatment for wrinkles/folds, complexion and pores.  Movement lines are treated with botox.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 207 reviews

Fraxel treatement

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There are different types of lasers that are useful for skin rejuvenation. Fractionated laser can be ablative, meaning that it removes the superficial layer of skin and works by the body creating a new superficial skin layer or non-ablative which is a less deep laser treatment. The deeper treatments are better for wrinkles, the less deep treatments are better for skin texture.  Superficial treatments are not painful and only result in pink color of the skin that goes away within a few hours after the treatment.  Ablative Fraxel treatments usually require application of the topical numbing cream to make the treatment less uncomfortable and for highly sensitive patients we use local injections of the anesthetic.  Oral medication is also available to pre-treat the pain.  Hope it was helpful and good luck.

Joseph A. Eviatar, MD, FACS
New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

Fraxel-Is it painful?

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There are different levels of Fraxel laser treatments that range from the superficial to the very deep. The most common that are superficial and have no downtime do not have any severe pain associated with the treatment. A good topical anesthetic makes the treatment very tolerable. After the topical anesthesia wears off, you may feel what some liken to a "sunburn" level of discomfort, but that varies from person to person, and typically wears off within a day or two. Deeply ablative Fraxel laser treatments can have a higher degree of pain and discomfort associated with several days of downtime. From what you are describing with very little skin laxity and little to no wrinkles, something so deeply ablative may not be right for you. I would suggest consulting with a board certified dermatologist to discuss your treatment goals and to see if non-ablative Fraxel would be right for you.

Best of luck to you!

David Goldberg, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Fraxel laser

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There are several different types of Fraxel laser.  The most commonly used is the Fraxel DUAL which is very tolerable with the application of a numbing cream and some acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  Most patients are quite comfortable during the treatment and do not have pain afterwards.  There is some swelling and redness for a few days and makeup can be applied right away.  Patients like their results and have additional treatments.

The Fraxel Repair is an ablative laser and there is a week's downtime for healing but with the same pain management during treatment, most patients do not have much discomfort and there is no pain afterwards.

Martie Gidon, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologist

Fraxel Laer and Pain

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You ask a very good question.  Fraxel is my favorite laser and I have had outstanding cosmetic results.I have had patients come to my office in consultation and complain that they have had Fraxel in the past and it was very painful.  What I have learned is that these patients did not have the proper numbing medicine applied ahead of time.  With the proper numbing cream you should not feel anything during the procedure.  Afterwards it may feel a little warm for an hour or two and we give you post-op instructions to reapply cold water with compresses for this.  Best, Dr. Green

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.