Why is fraxel getting such a bad rep? Is it a safe treatment?

I see lots of negative reviews and horror stories for this treatment while browsing here. Its supposed to be less harsh than a full blown CO2 fractional laser right? At least thats what I got from googling the 2. My mom is fair and considering it to treat some sun damage on her face. Are the issues because of inexperienced fraxel provider? Is that something that needs certification? Or are some people just better candidates? Is there anything milder to try if she decides not to do fraxel?

Doctor Answers 10

Why is fraxel getting such a bad rep? Is it a safe treatment?

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Thank you for your question. It is important to seek a Technician and or Dr. that is certified and well trained in laser treatments. Skin type does play a factor in how the treatment can be set to give optimal results. Consult with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeons office to discus which laser treatments will be the most helpful and safe. You will get a highly trained staff and direct Physician involvement with your treatment and after care.

Fraxel is just a brand... its the application that counts

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Fraxel is an umbrella term for various types of lasers and wavelengths including 1927, 1550 and of course CO2. Each type of Fraxel has a specific application, and also treatment parameters. Finding a skilled Specialist who can apply the type of Fraxel laser for a particular skin condition is the key to success. 

You are indeed correct, Fraxel over the years has been getting a bad rep because of lack of training. The lasers themselves are World Class, however its the laser operator that is usually at fault for not matching the correct parameters for the condition. Sun damage on the face can be treated with either the CO2 Fraxel or even the 1927 Fraxel.

All the best

Dr Davin Lim
Laser Dermatologist
BRISBANE, Australia

Fraxel and Reviews

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Fraxel is my number one favorite laser for removing brown spots, sun damage, and fine lines.  One of the reasons that you read reviews that are unfavorable has to do with many different inexperienced doctors using lasers and saying that they are "Fraxel" when in fact they are not.  In experienced hands, the Fraxel laser is a remarkable laser with excellent and reproducible results.  For the best cosmetic results please consult a board certified dermatologist with experience with Fraxel laser.

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Is Fraxel safe?

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I've been using a variety of Fraxel lasers for about seven years and have not seen any significant or lasting negative side effects.  Conversely, in experienced hands, results are consistently excellent and down time is limited. Pain, if any , is usually mild.  I mostly use the Fraxel Dual, but a milder version by the same manufacturer is the "Clear and Brilliant" device.  I recommend making sure the treatment is performed by an experienced doctor, nurse, nurse-practioner, or PA in a cosmetically oriented dermatology office or plastic surgeon office.

Edward Glassberg, MD
Long Beach Dermatologic Surgeon


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Fraxel gives phenomenal results when used by a properly trained and skilled physician. The other thing is that there are several fraxel lasers. Fraxel is just the brand name...our office uses the newest fraxel lasers with minimal downtime. Please consult with a board certified specialist who can assist you with achieving the results your mom seeks.

Kimberly Lee, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Fraxel Repair Best Results; Safe When Used Properly

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Hi Tricia,

Fraxel repair is an excellent laser treatment.  It is a fractionated CO2 laser.  I have been using the technology since it came out in 2008.  We have not had any negative results with our Fraxel repair treatments.  It sounds as if your mother is an excellent candidate for Fraxel repair as she is fair skinned. As with any treatment, the results and adverse events are dependent on the skill, experience, and knowledge of the treating physician.  It is most important to choose your treating physician most carefully.  Good luck and be well.

Dr. P
Encino, CA

Michael A. Persky, MD
Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Fraxel Dual is extremely safe and well tolerated

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The results of Fraxel in my hands are very reliable, and consistently very good. My patients are happy. I've been using the Dual since 2009. My before and afters are all over their website. It is great for pigment, and fine lines. Tightening is better done with the Infini. RF is better for this. I think most problems are related to over treatment or improper use of the laser.

Steven F. Weiner, MD
Panama City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Is Fraxel safe

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Hi Tricia,

There are three different Fraxel wavelengths (CO2 - ablative; 1927 nm and 1550 nm  - nonablative) and each one has different associated downtime/recovery. I have had great success with all three without complications. Some people are not good candidates for these lasers, which is why the consultation visit is very important. It is also very important to have a trained laser expert do the treatment and for you to have an understanding which device is going to be used. There are treatments that are milder than Fraxel (Clear and Brilliant for example) but your mother may need to do many more treatments to achieve the results of one Fraxel treatment.

Anne Marie Tremaine, MD
Naples Dermatologic Surgeon

Milder Than Fraxel for Sun Damage

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Hi Tricia.  Fraxel and CO2, although different wavelengths are still very similar in that they are fractionated lasers.  This means that the light beam has been divided into many hundreds of small spots that perforate the skin.  This makes these lasers "ablative" which means you will have a recovery period.  

If your Mom is looking for improvements in the skin TEXTURE, either of these may be good options, although we love the Sciton profractional Erbium laser.  

If as an alternative, she is primarily interested in removing age spots (brown spots, liver spots) then we would suggest a q-switched lasers.  Ablative lasers like Fractional lasers are best for texture, but for color, they are not ideal.  

To see examples of age spot removal with q-switched lasers in Chino, click on the link below to view the before and after photos.  

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Fraxel and Laser Treatments on FAce

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I do fractional co2 and nonablative Fraxel everyday in my practice with amazing results.  We combine treatments with PRP and microneedling to enhance the results.  I suggest you see a laser expert for treatment.  Best, Dr. Emer.

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

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.