Fraxel Side Effects

what Fraxel side effects are most common?

Doctor Answers 19

What to expect after Fraxel

I am going to discuss what to expect after having Fraxel re:store treatment. Reactions that everyone gets, which can be referred to as common side effects, are redness and swelling that can last 2-3 days. Day 2 usually has the most redness and swelling. You can manage this by keeping your head elevated, using cold compresses, and taking antihistamines. You may feel a little itchy, but there should not be any pain or discomfort at any time after treatment. Then you will get some skin flaking or peeling, similar to very dry skin, windburn, or a sunburn. Some people, usually those with darker skin tones, may notice that the skin looks a little darker before it begins to peel. The intensity of your reaction may also depend on the strength of your treatment.

Some people with a history of acne will have a flare of their acne, but even if you do not usually have a problem with acne, you may notice the appearance of acne-like bumps. This is temporary, and you should tell your physician so that she or he can prescribe a medication for you to use.

Uncommon side effects include a darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation) in people with darker skin types, which may last several weeks. There is the potential for infection, permanent discoloration or scarring but this has not been seen with Fraxel re:store, which is one reason it is such a popular treatment.

Your physician should give you detailed instructions on what to expect and how to care for your skin after your treatment, and don't hesitate to ask questions.


Atlanta Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Fraxel side effects

To be precise, side effects are expected reactions from a treatment that are not complications. You ask about Fraxel. Side effects for Fraxel RE:store are different than Fraxel Re:pair. Reactions to Fraxel restore include swelling, redness and gentle skin flaking for three to five days. Sometimes the skin flakes slightly tan or brown. There is stinging during the treatment and for several minutes to even an hour or more after the procedure rarely. There can be a reactivation of one's susceptibility to having cold sores, and there can be pigmentation development that usually is temporary.

Fraxel Repair is more aggressive as a treatment and raw skin occurs as a result so that side effects are more numerable including oozing, crusting, brown flaking, long term redness, sensitivity and a very small risk of scarring and pigmentation changes.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

What are Fraxel side effects?

The most common side effects are: redness and swelling and a warm feeling to the skin... this is all very similar to a bad sunburn. This lasts for about 3 days on average. After that, the skin starts to bronze with brown spots (the dead cells coming to the surface) and then peels. This continues for a few more days. That is the normal skin reaction after Fraxel.

However, some patients can get adverse reactions, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is a darkening of the skin. It is seen more in Asians and darker skinned individuals. I is best prevented by pretreating the skin with a bleaching agent like hydroquinone. Lastly, a rare adverse reaction is hypopigmentation. This is where some coloration is removed from the skin. This is a very unfortunate occurrence. It is certainly possible, but extremely rare. Personally, I have never seen this, but I do discuss this with all my patients in advance.

Sirish Maddali, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon

Fraxel Side Effects

Common side effects or reactons to fractional ablative laser treatments such as the Fraxel Laser or the Sciton HALO Laser include swelling, redness, skin flaking. The incidence of these is dramatically reduced with the HALO’s unique hybrid synchronous fractional/ full-field energy delivery mechanism. Patients do have some stinging during the treatment and for about an hour or two afterwards. By day three most patients get a bronzed or tan look. Every patient should be asked prior to treatment if they are susceptible to cold sores and pre-treated if necessary. Side effects also depend on the intensity and depth of the treatment. The stronger the settings the more downtime you can expect.

Marco Ellis, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Mild Redness & Tenderness Fade in a Few Days

Part of the appeal of Fraxel is that it's much less intense than other types of resurfacing lasers. After a treatment, you can expect some redness, peeling, and a bit of tenderness — similar to a mild sunburn. These side effects shouldn't prevent you from going to work or participating in any of your normal activities. As your skin heals, these symptoms will resolve on their own, giving way to beautiful, healthy-looking skin. Of course, the degree to which you experience these side effects depends on what type of treatment settings your practitioner chooses and how your unique body reacts. Your doctor can give you a more specific idea of exactly what to expect after treatment and how you can best care for your skin as it heals. Thanks for your question, and best of luck!

Susan M. Stuart, MD
San Diego Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Side Effects from Fraxel


The most common side effects of Fraxel laser treatment are redness, swelling, and peeling of the skin. Your skin will typically heal with a sunburn like effect over several days or up to a week, depending on the intensity of the treatment. As with any laser treatment, there is a very remote risk of a burn or scarring. 

Side effects vs expected post procedure events

This is a really difficult question, but to simplify matters, it really depends on the patient, type of Fraxel used, and the planning, plus post laser care. Side effects, in my definition are UNEXPECTED events. So to answer the question - the most common side effects include infection (Staph or even HSV), and post laser darkening of the skin. Events such as post laser pimples are common, and redness, peeling, and sun sensitivity are NOT side effects but predictable events. Prolonged or persistent redness, can be considered a side effect. 
Most side effects can be minimised by careful planning, history taking, and in some cases preventive medications, including anti-virals or anti-bacterial treatments. Some side effects can not be predicted, and hence Fraxel, laser treatments and any other cosmetic or even medical treatments carry a quantifiable risk....

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Fraxel Side effects

The expected course after Fraxel does depend on which type of Fraxel laser you have.  Patients who have Fraxel Dual or Restore look red, like a sunburn, for 2-3 days, then bronze for 2-3 days and fine flaking can occur.  The whole process takes about a week.  Most people take off 3-4 days from work, but plan for a week if they have a special event.  This is great for people who have busy social and work lives, so don't have a lot of downtime, but want less wrinkles, sunspots and better texture to their skin!

Angela Sturm, MD
Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

You can play a role in determining how much "down time" you have

With most lasers, including the Fraxel, the MD performing the treatment can usually titrate the settings from weaker to stronger.  Weaker settings usually have less side effects/ down-time, but they also result in less of a "wow" effect.  Stronger settings have more side effects/ a longer down-time, but have a better chance of achieving your goal.  You can have a conversation with your doctor about what you are looking to achieve, and how much "down time" you are willing to have per treatment.  A compromise I make with some patients is to repeat treatments with weaker settings a # of times in order to achieve the results they desire, with only a day or two of down-time each time they come in for a treatment.    

Whitney Bowe, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Faxel side effects

The most common side effects of Fraxel laser treatment are swelling and skin redness; both should subside within a couple of days. Other temporary side effects may include minor itching, dry skin, peeling or flaking, and a bronzed skin appearance. The risk of infection or scarring is very limited

Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 34 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.