I’m 17 days post Fraxel Restore procedure. I’m satisfied so far but with some “buts”… The best advice I can give anyone considering Fraxel:Restore is to really is discuss your personal goals with your doctor and then research, research, research. My personal goal was to address papulopustular rosacea where I have some redness with transient bumps and pimples. Anything else Fraxel provides would be a plus but not my main goal. There are many forms of rosacea and there is no known cure so I can’t say this would be effective for everyone. Only you and your doctor can make that judgment. Some people find relief from different rosacea treatments that others have no change.
Positive: 17 days later I’ve observed smaller pores, many of the broken capillaries gone and no evidence the rosacea pimples. Only time will tell if these results can be maintained and for how long. I highly recommend taking your own series of digital close ups of every aspect of your face before the procedure. My changes were subtle but being able to compare these photo’s it was very obvious that very small wrinkles were gone, pores were definitely smaller, and broken capillaries while not all gone were clearly reduced.
I felt my doctor was very clear on what to expect. His exact quote when discussing the procedure with me was, “Your going to look bad for first few days.” He paused and said again. “Really bad.” with a pained look on his face. This web site was also very helpful in preparing myself.
My opinion is I would only allow a face neck plastic surgeon do any type of work on my face, Fraxel is no different. My doctor has done about 65-75 Fraxel procedures before my procedure. As a result he modified his technique over time based on what he has observed. My understanding is he presented his technique at a medical conference in Nov 2008. His technique is basically to make the deep passes by then a shallow pass. Clearly, I’m no doctor. So please don’t ask me to explain beyond that.
People always ask about the pain in this blog. Your treatment provider MUST address the pain or you will be in pain. My doctor provided a topical pain cream one hour before along with a pain killer cocktail and then injected nerve blockers. Even with that my leg involuntary shock when the tool went over some parts of my face. (By temple, upper check area.)
Here are my “but”:
- I just don’t feel it’s worth $5K. Perhaps I’ll feel differently if the rosacea stays abated. I feel this one time procedure would be more fairly priced in the $3K range (Ok –reality is if my rosacea stays away then I’ll think it was worth any amount of money.).
- The recovery time is NOT 5-7 days. Yes, the crusting will be gone and you can leave your home to be around strangers on day 7. BUT YOU WILL BE VERY RED. I returned to work 11 days after the procedure and every person I encountered in the hallway stated, “wow, look at that sun burn, must be painful.” Or “where were you on vacation? Forget the sun block?” I had to go to the ladies room every few hours to take off the concealing make up and apply a heavy moisturizer and then put the make up back on. Note, these comments were made while wearing concealing makeup. There is only so much makeup you can wear in the day time without looking like a clown. It’s also hard for someone like me who typically wears very little skin makeup. Day by day it’s fading and on Day 17 (today) was the first day, with make up, that I felt I could reasonably hide the redness. It’s still a pink red 17 days later but little lighter each day.
Opinions and Observations
- My observations is this is a good treatment to look “fresh” and to address some visible surface issues on your skin. This is NO WAY a laser “face lift”. If you need a face/neck lift or eye lift, then just get the lift. There are no miracles of “a no surgery lift.” This wasn’t my goal, but I write this because it seems to be a goal of some people on this blog. My feeling is they will be disappointed. On the Fraxel website, listen very carefully to the doctor talking with Kathy Lee Gifford on the Today Show clip and that doctor is very clear that it’s not a lift.
- It will NOT eliminate everything. Again, if you are looking for every acne pock mark, every wrinkle, every capillary, every skin discoloration to be gone from your face, again you’ll be disappointed. The Fraxel marketing photo’s at the doctor were very clear that while these things were clearly reduced, they weren’t 100% gone. (A picture is worth a 1000 words. I’m also sure that given our differences as humans, that some people may achieve 100% but don’t think that will be the vast majority.)
- The photos I’ve looked at in my doctor’s office and from my experience, this appears to be a good procedure to use WITH a lift. Just like Fraxel is not a lift, a lift is not the skin resurfacing of Fraxel. Seems like both together really give a nice result. (I didn’t do a lift. It’s not my time yet, but I think I may in 3-5 years.)
- No matter how many pictures you look at and how prepared mentally you think you are, you’ll still be shocked when it’s your swollen, red,crusting face looking back at you in the mirror. The good news at least you will be prepared but it’s still unsettling.
- If your looking for deep furrows (aka the deep laugh lines around your mouth) to be gone –nope. That’s a job for a lift and filler.
- I would not do a spot treatment. I did a full face and neck. At least I could wear turtle necks and say I had been on vacation. I don’t know how you’d explain the extremely visible difference in color between treated and untreated areas. Even with full treatment you’ll need to be good with makeup to blend the untreated “white areas” around your eyebrows and lips and hairline with the red treated area.
I will post in 3 months and 6 months to let people know if my observations and opinions have changed. My current concern is just waiting for my skin to return to its normal color and hopefully still be rosacea free. I will not be posting photos because this procedure is just too personal for me, but I do thank everyone who had the courage to post theirs. They were very helpful to me and I’m grateful and thankful for their courage and openness. I’m also grateful for everyone’s participation in the RealSelf discussions.. I felt I was better prepared to ask questions and receive information when I went to discuss the procedure with my doctor.