Fraxel Repair - My Face is Still Raw After Several Days. What Can I Do?

I had one Fraxel treatment 9 days ago on the upper lip and around the mouth area. It was a very painful procedure to me (I describe it as a fire goatee) even with the numbing cream. It burned (the pain could only be controlled with direct ice application) for about 3 hours. I swelled terribly, and the surrounding skin turned dark brown. As the brown skin came off, the skin underneath oozed, blistered, and turned raw. It's still crusty and blistering.

Please help. I'm young, 38, medium skin toned, and would not consider my skin to be sensitive. I call the doctor (MD Plastic Surgeon, but a technician actually performed the procedure) and they said just to keep regular moisturizer on it. Nothing is working.

Doctor Answers 3

Fraxel re:pair should be performed by a qualified physician

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Hi Michelle,

Sorry to hear about your experience. You should return to your physician's office and have the doctor evaluate you and recommend treatment to get you through your healing phase. Your skin should definitely not be blistering and crusty 9 days after a Fraxel re:pair treatment.

Depending on what is going on, Biafine ointment is a good product used on burns to decrease redness and help with healing. Make sure that you are not having an allergic reaction to the products that you are using on your skin. For an allergic reaction, stop the offending products and then a steroid cream can be prescribed.

I let patients know that we prefer to treat the entire face because invariably once they have healed they regret that their untreated skin doesn't look as great as the skin that was treated. There is a difference in tone, texture, and pore size. An advantage of Fraxel re:pair over previous CO2 lasers is that we can treat aesthetic units on the face without demarcation in the great majority of patients. In these economic times, many of us cannot afford to treat our entire face, so just the area around the mouth, or just the eyelids can be treated with great results.

Fraxel re:pair is an amazing laser that gives "wow" results, but it is an extremely powerful laser capable of causing complications. To minimize the chances of these complications, patients should make sure that they are being treated by an experienced physician, preferably one who has used the traditional CO2 lasers. Your physician should be board certified. Ask how long they have been using the laser, and how they were trained. Find out how many patients they have treated. It is most important to choose your treating physician very carefully to minimize the chances of complications.

I hope that you heal rapidly and completely. Be well.

Dr. P

Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

I've had laser surgery by the wrong person and now realize I made a mistake

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Your question tells me that you had surgery with the wrong person. Fraxel re:Pair is a major procedure that should have been performed by a real doctor and NEVER a technician. While it is a good idea for the plastic surgeon so he/she can be doing breast augmentations for 'real' cosmetic surgery patients, it is a horrible idea for you because you now have no one to turn to and are in this dilemma.

Additionally, no one that is truly interested in a patient such as yourself does partial faces as it just makes the rest of the face look bad. So, on top of this you are now out of luck because the doctor who collected the fee for your procedure has pawned you off on someone and most likely neither of them really have a clue as to how to get you better or take care of your skin.

In the future, heed this lesson - go to a dermatologist for this type of procedure and if, for something as invasive as this, they say that a 'technician' is going to do it -run, don't walk, away. As for healing, I would call the surgeon's office and read them this response and ask them what they are going to do to help you out. It is their problem and they are not fulfilling their part of the doctor-patient bargain.

Joel Schlessinger, MD
Omaha Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Fraxel Repair recovery should not be drastic when performed by experienced doctor

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I am sorry to hear that your Fraxel treatment did not go as you were hoping. After nine days of the treatment, these kinds of effects should not be happening. My first advice to you is to go see your doctor. Schedule an appointment as soon as possible for he or she will have a better idea as to what happened with your procedure and provide a treatment plan. Your doctor, might consider the possibility of a complicating infection as well as reactivation of herpes type 1 infection.

Typically Fraxel treatments do not have such horrible results if done by the right doctor and the right amount. Although the laser is extremely powerful, an experienced doctor who has used the Fraxel laser before should know how it works the conditions that it should be used under. I hope this helps and your side effects go away shortly.

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 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.