Laser resurfacing results depend on more than the device
We have Active FX, Fraxel repair and Fraxel restore at our Centre and I can give you a completely unbiased answer to your question. If a physician uses the settings that the company gives them for Active FX, the results are usually not that impressive. The doctor can increase the density and energy settings on the machine and treat more aggressively, but this will increase the downtime and is not, by definition, Active FX.
As far as comparing Fraxel repair and Active FX, there is a clear difference. The Fraxel repair penetrates many times deeper than Active FX, so the improvement in acne scars, wrinkles, sun damage, and the degree of skin tightening is much better with Fraxel repair than the Active FX. One treatment with fraxel repair is better than one treatment with Active FX. I have the photos to prove it.
Updated Nov. 13th, 2008:
Sorry I had to cut my last response off to go see a patient. I agree with Dr. Stevens' assessment when comparing Active FX and Fraxel restore. The nice thing about the Fraxel repair is that we have been able to use it safely on darker skin types as well.
For you as a patient, the best thing you can do is find a reputable dermatology/plastic surgery centre that offers all/most of the possible technologies that may help you. Ask the physician to see before and after photos of his own patients. If the physician can only show you photos from the laser company or other doctors, that should be your clue to go elsewhere.
Check on the physician's board certification. Lastly, the physician should be performing the treatment on you. If he/she is delegating the treatment to someone else on his staff, such as a nurse or "laser technician", I would go somewhere else. These treatments can have serious side effects and should be performed by someone that has extensive experience and formal training in this specialty.
Good luck and take care.
Active FX absolutely delivers results!!
As director of a Lumenis National Training Center for Ultrapulse/Total FX, I can attest to the fact that significant results are obtainable from one single treatment.
Fraxel Restore with Erbium would take several treatments to even come close. Fraxel Repair with carbon dioxide is closer in efficacy to the Active FX, which is also a fractional carbon dioxide laser.
Since most fractional lasers are adjustable, you can dial the energies up or down giving aggressive or mild changes. In the end, a well-trained laser operator who understands the use of the technology as it relates to the needs of different patients will get you the best results.
I am being honest when I say that when properly educated beforehand, we have not had one single dissatisfied patient.
One Active FX session produces more collagen than 5 Fraxel erbium laser treatments
As a Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon, advance physician trainer for Lumenis CO2 fractional laser and as one of nine Lumenis Laser Centers of Excellence I can help you with this question. I also will be unbiased in my answer.
It has been proven in several scientific/medical research papers that one ActiveFX is better and produces more collagen that a series of 5 Fraxel Erbium treatments. The patients are more happy with the ActiveFX results, have less total downtime, and it cost less to have one procedure versus 5 Fraxel Erbium.
It is also my opinion that the combination of ActiveFX and DeepFX is far more superior to the treatment that the new Fraxel CO2 can deliver. I have done ActiveFX/DeepFX in hundreds of patients and trained many physicians how to do this procedure and I still get impressed with the results that I can get in my hands. I have the pictures to prove it. My pictures, not company pictures.
My final word of advice is to always talk to your physician and verify his credentials. Ask how many of these has he done, ask to see pictures of his patients, not company pictures.
Active FX can be very effective
The active FX fractional CO2 laser a good treatment method for more superficial problems. These include lesions in the epidermis or upper level of the skin, such as pigmentation changes and very fine wrinkles.
To treat the deeper lines, wrinkles and acne scars, I will first treat with the Deep FX and then go over the areas again with the Active FX. I agree with the other physicians, that the manufacturer's recommendations for power settings are conservative and that in experienced hands, the laser is used more aggressively, yet being mindful of the areas being treated.
I think with any medical procedure, it's important for the treating physician to be honest and realistic with the patient as to what to expect, in terms of postoperative recovery time, pain, and results. There are many patients that I've treated with a single treatment and other patients such as those with acne scars, I explain that they will need multiple treatments.
As with most resurfacing procedures, whether they are chemical peels or laser resurfacing, the deeper one goes, the more effective the results, and the more downtime.
Fraxel re:store series verus one Active FX
Dr. Groff has answered your question beautifully and in an unbiased fashion. It has also been my experience that one Active FX doesn't give the same results as a series of Fraxel re:store treatments. Good luck and be well.