Erbium Laser Vs Fraxel Laser for Skin Damage?

I'm 34 years old and had a consultation for large pores, fine lines, and minor sun damage. The physician stated that his (Venus) Erbium yag laser was just as good, if not better than Fraxel. He went on to say the results were mainly dependent on the user of the device. How true is this?

Doctor Answers 4

Erbium Yag v Fraxel

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These are very different lasers and are difficult to compare. The ideal study would be one where one half of the side of the face is treated with one laser and the other side with the other laser.  This is unlikely to happen in a IRB approved study due to the inherent differences in the lasers.  What you should know is that they are different wavelengths and so their properties are not the same.  It is well known scientifically that erbium yag has a higher affinity for water than does CO2 and so it can specifically target the cells you are treating with less collateral damage. That is to say that although both lasers could be set at levels that can scar and burn people, or even levels that you would barely feel, the erbium yag is more efficient at removing tissue precisely.  What is best is to keep in mind is that, in the right hands,  nice results can be achieved with either laser. The downtime, cost, pain, number of treatments, risks of scarring and pigment changes are different with these lasers and should be discussed with your doctor before treating. It might even be best for you to meet with one doctor with one laser and another with the other laser and ask them the same set of  questions, compare prices, amount of pain with the treatment, risks of scarring and discoloration of the skin, downtime for healing and end results.  Always ask to see pictures if possible. Preferably ones that are not from the laser companies but rather their own patients. Then ask as many questions as you need to be comfortable you are with 1. the right doctor 2. with the right laser 3.and have the right expectations for your treatment.

Boulder Dermatologist

Erbium vs. fraxel

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I would place the Erbium:YAG microlaser peel and the Fraxel in the same category in terms effect.  The deep Erbium:YAG is in another category all together and would be a different discussion.  Below is a list of pros and cons.



  • minimal downtime (3-5 days)
  • can be done in the office with topical anesthesia (still hurts like a mother!)
  • mild to moderate effect on wrinkles
  • Low risk of causing scarring or pigment irregularities


  • see above, hurts like a mother
  • expensive
  • mild to moderate effect on wrinkles
  • need to repeat, often sold in packages of 3 because of this
  • no effect on pigment irregularities because of the entire surface is not covered

Erbium:YAG microlaser peel


  • minimal downtime (3-5 days)
  • can be done with topical anesthesia in the office (much less painful than Fraxel)
  • mild to moderate effect on wrinkles (probably slightly less effective than Fraxel, but not much different)
  • low risk of causing scarring or pigment irregularities (can even be done on those with a darker complexion)
  • inexpensiver ($400 in my office)
  • better effect on pigment problems because the entire surface is resurfaced


  • mild to moderate effect on wrinkles
  • often sold in packages of 3 because of this

Hope this list helps to figure out the best choice for you.  Both modalities have minimal effect on pore size.

John Bitner, MD
Salt Lake City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 90 reviews

Erbium vs. Fraxel

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Generally speaking, we would agree with the recommendation. The reason we prefer the Erbium over Fraxel is that it resurfaces 100% of the skin. Fraxel resurfaces only a portion of the skin. We have met with many patients that have undergone Fraxel treatments and most of them are disappointed with the results. Whether this is because of the expectations that were set prior to the treatment or because of the actual results, we are not sure. We do know one thing for sure. Those patients that are happy with their Fraxel results report 5-7 days of redness and swelling. This is the same recovery time for the Erbium resurfacing procedure. For the same amount of downtime, we suggest resurfacing 100% of the tissue (Erbium) vs. a much smaller % (Fraxel).

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

Erbium versus Fraxel laser

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The Fraxel and Erbium lasers are very different and each have it's place.  The Erbium is much more aggressive and has many more side effects and down time. I much prefer my Fraxel laser for what you are describing.  If you have minor sun damage and fine lines and pores that you want treated you will have amazing results with almost no down time. I love the Fraxel laser. I agree that you must find someone very experienced in cosmetic dermatology to obtain the best results!

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.