Acne on cheeks and foreheads which left shallow red scars: Fraxel or IPL?

I'm Asian and have in between tan and fair skin, but more on tan side. The red scars bother me most than my swallow scars. Is it advisable to undergo IPL rejuvenation treatment like 3-5 sessions before doing FRAXEL? IPL and FRAXEL are the only options could be find in my area. Im hoping for your reply.

Doctor Answers 5

Acne scars and redness

Fraxel is a fabulous laser for acne scars.  If the redness of the scar is your predominant concern than I would definitely recommend the V-Beam laser to you.  I have too many patients whom I have consulted on after IPL with your pigmentation and were hyper-pigmented after treatment.  For the best results please consult a board certified dermatologist with experience in Asian skin and laser treatments.

Treating red scars from acne - options

Since you are Asian, you run the risk of hyperpigmentation from both Fraxel and IPL. Red marks can be reduced with a vascular laser (such as Vbeam). Even then there is a chance of increased pigmentation so your doctor may prescribe a pigment suppressing agent too.

Lasers per se are a bit of a challenge with ethnic skins because there is such potential for post treatment pigmentation caused by the laser passing through the melanin producing cells.

Beyond the Vbeam for your red marks, you might look into eMatrix as this is a fractional resurfacing device that uses radio frequency instead of laser. The RF energy bypasses the melanin cells and this reduces the risks of discoloration.

If you do decide to have Fraxel for the scars, your doctor will likely pretreat your skin for a period of time to try to prevent the pigment problems.

Rebecca Fitzgerald, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Laser Treatments on Asian Skin

IPL might help improve your red scars, however I would not advise you do IPL because it is not appropriate for your skin type as there is a high possibility of hyperpigmentation from this treatment. My best recommendation for your red scars isVbeam Perfecta. Vbeam is a pulsed dye laser that is gold standard for removing red on the skin and is safe on Asian skin. It is excellent for red acne scars, broken capillaries, rosacea, port wine stains and many other conditions. Typically you would need a series of treatments anywhere from 3-5 to see best results.

Fraxel would help improve your depressed scars but again there is a high possibility for hyperpigmentation for your skin type. I would recommend Ematrix, the Ematrix system uses Sublative RF- fractioned bi-polar radio frequency technology to effectively place heat energy into the dermis with less possibility of hyperpigmentation. Though I have done Fraxel treatments on Asian skin, I now prefer the Ematrix. Best results come with a series of treatments and Ematrix can be combined with the Vbeam to improve both your concerns.If you still choose to go forward with either IPL or Fraxel it would be best for you to use a bleaching type cream to help minimize the risk of hyperpigmentation and make sure to use SPF 50 daily.

Consult with a Board Certified Dermatologist to see which treatments are best for your skin type.

Nissan Pilest, MD
Irvine Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

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Acne Scarring on face

Fraxel laser is the leading treatment for acne scarring and hyperpigmentation of the face. It is safe on most skin types. It will definitely help with the "red marks" but will take a series of treatments to see optimal results. Additionally we would recommend a regimen of Retin-A with a sunscreen in the morning.

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Acne scars and red marks

A pulsed dye laser would be preferable in my opinion to remove/reduce the red marks. I often use this at the same time as a fractional laser for optimal results. IPL can be used too but you have an increased risk of pigmentary alterations. I find the pulsed dye laser far more effective and safe.  Good luck

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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.