Fraxel Side Effects

what Fraxel side effects are most common?

Doctor Answers 23

Mild Redness & Tenderness Fade in a Few Days

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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!

San Diego Dermatologist

Side effects vs expected post procedure events

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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....

Fraxel Side effects

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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

Fraxel is a very safe treatment

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Fraxel laser treatments are very safe.  I don't know which treatment you  are considering.  Fraxel is a brand name of fractionated laser treatments.  There are both ablative and non-ablative treatments meaning that some ablate (burn off) the outer layer of skin and some don't.  Restore is Fraxel's non-ablative treatment and Repair is their ablative laser. 

So, what can go wrong?  Burns are extremely rare in experienced hands.  Special care must be taken in dark skinned individuals to reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation.  Individuals who get cold sores should take preventative medicine.  The doctor can prescibe this.


Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Fraxel side effects

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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
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Depends on which Fraxel

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There are four types of Fraxel machine being used, in addition to a handful of "wanna-be Fraxel lasers" advertised and used on patients.

Therefore, be very careful that you are actually getting Fraxel and not lasers marketed as Fraxel but made with cheaper parts from a different manufacturer. Here's why!

Fraxel is one of the best technologies to use. It is so expensive and each time the laser is used the doctor has to buy you a new tip to use on your skin. This makes the process pricey. Cheaper alternatives are not only less expensive for offices to acquire but also do not require the disposable tips. This makes them cheap to advertise.

Here is the price tag: with other lasers you are at higher risk of discoloration, and downtime. In fact, we tried three other lasers that discolored my sister, burned by office manager's chest and scarred my hand before we settled on the safe and true Fraxel.

To makes things even more confusing, Fraxel makes 4 different machines for various purposes. Each has a use and price associated with the treatment. This makes price shopping somewhat complicated!

Because of the fractionated technology, people need more than one treatment with the Fraxel. The ablative ones have the most recovery period and can cause the most side effects vs non ablative ones.

In general, they are all associated with scarring, discoloration, infection and pain if not used at their optimum capacity.

Best of luck!

Tanya Kormeili, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologist

Side effects very tolerable compared to the return of your invested time and money.

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Fraxel Dual remains one of the most popular procedures in my office now for many years. Why? Because in spite of new flashes in the media pan from other energy devices, Fraxel Dual still gives predicatable and beautiful results and has a high satisfaction rate. Fraxel 1550/1927nm can be used for skin discoloration, photoaging, fine lines, texture improvement, pre-cancerous changes on the skin, and acne scars. In addition, it can be used on all skin colors and skin types (if the doctor knows how to set the appropriate parameters). Redness, flaking, swelling and dryness are the usual side effects and they are quite manageable with good instructions.

Mary P. Lupo, MD
New Orleans Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Fraxel complications depend on the laser, the parameters, and the patient

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First thing you need to do is find out which 'fraxel' you are thinking of having.  There are three fractionated resurfacing lasers commonly in use made by Solta:  the Fraxel Repair (a CO2 laser), Fraxel Restore (an erbium laser), and Fraxel Dual (erbium and thulium laser).  There are also many other fractionated resurfacing lasers made by other companies.  I have found that patients will often say they had a 'fraxel' treatment but it was actually something else -- but the word 'fraxel' has become like referring to tissues as 'kleenex'.  

Done correctly, these are very safe procedures.  The most common post treatment side effects are expected:  redness, scaling, swelling and itch.  Patients must follow doctor's instructions regarding moisturizing, sun protection and ice or cold compresses.   While any laser treatment carries risks, the most worrisome when resurfacing are infection, scarring or pigmentation change. Fractionating the laser beam has reduced all of those.  Still the deeper the laser wavelength, the higher the risk.  Your doctor may prescribe an anti-viral medication like valcyclovir if you have a history of cold sores to prevent a flare during healing.  Most patients do not require oral antibiotic but if you have a history of frequent staph or strep infections, that might be advised.  Patients with acne being treated for acne scarring may want to take oral antibiotics afterward to avoid a flare because the healing process comes in part from the sebaceous units which are also responsible for acne.  Patients with melasma can flare after any treatment so laser resurfacing is usually a last resort.  If it is used, the melasma patient is usually given hydroquinone as preparation to 'turn off' some of the pigment mechanism.  Vigilant sun protection before, during and after healing is critical. 

My final advise is that if anything doesn't go the way your physician's office has explained it would, call the office and ask to speak with the doctor or her nurse.  They can often make small adjustments to your home care that fix the issue.  At other times, they might want to see you to rule out something unusual.  The best defense against a problem is to be proactive!

I hope that answer helps.  Best wishes.

Heidi A. Waldorf, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Fraxel Side Effects

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Any swelling is typically minimal and subsides within a day or two, and any redness typically fades within a few days. Other temporary side effects may include minor itching, dry skin, peeling or flaking, and a bronzed skin appearance. There is a limited risk of infection, hyperpigmentation, or scarring. Severity of side effects will vary based on the aggressiveness of treatment and adherence to post procedure remedies to minimize the immediate side effects.

Hardik Soni, MD (not currently practicing)
Summit Emergency Medicine Physician

Fraxel Side Effects

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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

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.