It's only been a little over 2 days, so the jury is still out, but I'm thinking this is the real deal. I frankly wasn't expecting much. My introduction to cosmeceuticals consisted of Radiesse injections about a year ago, and all I had to show for that was a large credit card bill and a black eye (literally). I backed into laser resurfacing by buying a Living Social coupon for a Vi peel, but the night before the appointment I made the mistake of checking out some of the post-Vi peel videos on YouTube. Holy cow! I didn't have the option of moving into a cave in Tora Bora for a week or two until I would look human again. Fortunately, the dermatologist let me put the credit (paid value) toward a Fraxel laser treatment, which I had been considering for several years anyway.
My reason for wanting the laser treatment is a combination of hydroquinone-resistant sun damage (which has gotten increasingly difficult to cover with makeup) and a bit of redness around my nose. The treatment was slightly painful, but not intolerable. Like being snapped repeatedly with a rubber band, as others have said. It took about a half an hour to go over my entire face. There was no pain afterward, although my face was pretty red for the rest of the day. The day after the treatment I noticed some clusters of very small dark dots on the surface of my skin -- these look like little bits of dirt -- maybe tiny scabs? Hard to say, exactly, but it's clear they are where the most severe sun damage spots used to be. They don't wash off, but based on what I've read, and what the doctor told me, I expect they will eventually go away. Meanwhile, I look "normal" enough, and unlike the black eye incident, I won't have to explain my appearance to people. However, I wouldn't recommend anyone have this treatment, say, the day before your wedding or a television interview.
The cost indicated above is for one treatment (represents the actual cost, including the credited value of the coupon.) The dermatologist thinks that in a month I will need another (partial) treatment to finish off some of the darker spots, and if I keep improving along the lines I've seen so far,I think I'll be happy to do that. One weird note - in addition to the tiny scabs, today I noticed a few blackheads on my cheeks. I'm not normally prone to blackheads, particularly not on my cheeks, so I'm thinking they were most likely related to the laser treatment. Kind of a weird side effect, but not a big deal.