I've Had Four Fraxels in the Past Year - New York, NY

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I have some residual cystic acne scarring from my...

I have some residual cystic acne scarring from my teen years. 6 years of IPL (Photorejuvenation) sessions took my skin about 60% to where I want to be - but I still have a ways to go. So, my derm suggested Fraxel. Why she chose this for me over V-Beam, Cool Touch, CO2, Pixel, and many others available, I'm not sure - but since I love and trust my derm so much, I decided to take the plunge.

The appointment began with the nurses taking a Before shot of me. A shower cap was placed on my head, and numbing cream was applied on cheeks, forehead, and chin, then a painkiller with a glass of water. I asked one nurse, "So, does this hurt?" Her answer without hesitating was, "Mm-hmm." Asked a second nurse who came in if it hurt. She gave me a flat "Yes." Yowkay. Here we go.

Well, after cooling my heels for about half an hour, I was told to wash my face with Cetaphil. Then I put on my goggles and it was on.

As the nurse stood over my right with the chilled air system blowing cold air on my face, my derm at left began the procedure, which took about 15 minutes total. It hurt a *lot* less than I expected, but was still uncomfortable; I was definitely looking forward to it being over. It felt like a blunt knife scraping on the skin towards the end of it - especially down towards the mouth area. But! I refuse to move, flinch, jerk, or make a single peep during treatments like this - why, so the doctor can turn the megajoules way down? At the cost of 45 tanks of gas, I make sure it's Stoic City. But for what it's worth, my derm did remark on more than one occasion that I was pretty quiet & still. Two passes on my left cheek, one pass on my right, and one pass to each my forehead and chin. There's work to be done, and I want to be gorgeous everywhere.

Afterward, I could feel my face pulsating because, as my derm put it, I was "on fire"! The skin was very pink, but not full-on scarlet red as I was expecting and fully prepared to be. Cold compresses were applied to my face, which helped the flush, and I was to lie there a good 20-30 minutes. After this, 5% hydrocortisone was applied, which I am to do thrice a day for a week. Then I was sent on my way.

A few hours later, my cheeks began crusting. It looked like a fresh skier's sunburn. After applying foundation, it looked like a skier's sunburn I got a couple of days before. The thickest little spot of cheek crust looks like dried, caked-on concealor that hasn't been rubbed in all the way. For the day OF the procedure, just go home. In a life/death situation, you're cool - but it's not partytime yet.

By that night (last night) 12 hours after the treatment, I looked work-ready - with makeup. By this morning, I looked fine. My cheeks are still tight and feel crusty-ish. Imagine how the thinnest layer of clay masque would feel on your cheeks 20 minutes after applying - that's EXACTLY how it feels. My derm informed me that this crusting should peel off in a few days.

By the way my skin looks and feels now, I would imagine doing this on a Friday right after work would put you at A-OK in time for heading back to work on Monday morning.

Well, here I am 12 days post-treatment. The...

Well, here I am 12 days post-treatment.

The crusting is long gone (it was history by 5 days after), but I noticed the oddest thing 10 days post-treatment: tiny, milia-sized ... pustules? But I'm not at all upset about it, because they are not cystic (which means they're transient), they're only on my lower right cheek/jawline as opposed to everywhere, and even without makeup, you can hardly spot them even if you're looking for them. I mean, I'd read about post-Fraxel breakouts - but since I really no longer get acne these days, I figured I would be exempt from that.

Also, from what I've read, the "breakouts" seem to come just a couple days post-treatment. For whatever reason, mine took much longer to happen. I've also read this milia is completely normal with lasers, and just the dermis healing itself. But! As a preemptive strike, some might find it beneficial to be put on an antibiotic prior to treatment. My milia is so minor, but I might put a call into my derm Monday just to let her know that it's happened to me and bothers me anyway!

1 week out, I was back on my Retin-A and glycolic acid. To keep skin moisturized in the first week, I used Aquaphor. I stayed inside for the most part during this time, so only had to apply SPF on isolated incidents.

12 days out, I still have some dry-ish skin on both cheeks & outside-orbital area, but you can't really see it - you can just feel it. Forehead is normal; chin is normal. Pinkness only exists where the aforementioned milia is, and it is very faint.

Update for 15 days Post-Treatment. The weird...

Update for 15 days Post-Treatment.

The weird (but very minor) bumps I mentioned that were on the bottom of my right cheek/jaw only lasted about 48 hours. The tiny bit of roughness that remains on the bottom half of my cheeks - but a bit more on my right cheek - gets a little better every third day or so. I put a call into my dermatologist to report this roughness and make triple-sure it was normal and expected, and the P.A. advised me to skip the Retin-A & glycolic acid that I'd resumed 8 days post-treatment for at least another week, and to focus on moisturizing and call her back in 72 hours to update her on how I'm doing.

I love doing these updates. My friends and family who don't see me every day are all asking how I'm doing, so I just refer them to my review here - so, you all benefit! :)

Let me reiterate that - at least for me - going to work the following morning after a Fraxel re:store is totally possible. I wouldn't have felt self-conscious. Each day thereafter, you look even better. It's the day OF that you must say "forget it" and head home. :)

Okay, it's been 5 weeks now since my first Fraxel...

Okay, it's been 5 weeks now since my first Fraxel Re:store!

The dryness/roughness remaining on my cheeks was history 4 weeks post-treatment. I was starting to get a little concerned; but after about a month everything looked and felt back to normal. I switched moisturizers & that seemed to be when things began to turn. Yay!

I head back for my second Fraxel in one week.

Alright, I had my second Fraxel re:store yesterday...

Alright, I had my second Fraxel re:store yesterday.

Though the mJ setting was a smidge higher this time around (I believe she said 25), and I am more red now than previously, there was a little less pain. It's the morning after, and I look like I have a serious skier's sunburn again. :) It'll pass. That crusty roughness I love so much is back as well, and it'll pass, too.

I asked my derm if she recommended the equal-parts white vinegar/water soaks I read about so much, and she said only if I am breaking out in pustules - so, that probably won't be for me. The Pramosone (steroid cream) prescribed to me previously is a whopping $400+, & fortunately, I managed to squeeze out a solid week's use from the one sample of it given to me last time; so I made sure to ask for double samples this time. When I inquired of the best post-Fraxel moisturizer, she suggested CeraVe Cream, and gave me plenty of samples of this as well. For the record: when I asked her P.A. about using Aquaphor as a post-Fraxel moisturizer (another thing I read about a lot), she gave me a flat no, followed by listing off a few random things it is actually good for.

My classes start in 4 days, so I hope the redness dissipates a bit by then! I'm sure it will. But until then, I'm for the most part staying inside and reapplying the snazzy CeraVe every couple of hours.

Had my fourth Fraxel 2 days ago. My third...

Had my fourth Fraxel 2 days ago.

My third Fraxel was 6 months ago, & my dermatologist says I'm now finished with them. But oh boy, this last one was the most aggressive of all!

Today, I'm dealing with the expected bronzing & crusting which should be gone in a couple of days. When asked recently if I can see any improvements with the Fraxel, which I've been doing the last year, it bothered me to say I wasn't sure - after all, I see myself every day! It's a little like weight loss or trying a new color-depositing shampoo - you had better take some snapshots if you want an objective visual gauge. Luckily, my derm took these before each treatment. But in pondering whether I've had actual changes to my face (cheeks in particular), I have to take into account the fact that I can look at my face after washing it & be happy with what I see. I have to take into account that I get more compliments on my skin from complete strangers than ever. When I mention something skincare-related to even strangers, they all want to know what I use on my face. All of that says a lot about the way my skin is looking.

What I really have to look forward to with this extra-aggressive final Fraxel is the additional results it will bring several months down the road - and I can't wait.

Name not provided

My dermatologist is amazing in her own right: honest, forthright, loves the word "NO" for any treatment she does that you might broach with her, if she doesn't think it is appropriate for you. When she finally does make a treatment suggestion, you can rest assured a lot of MD-qualified thought from training and years of experience went into it, and that it's right for you. But another reason I recommend her is because I would NEVER let a spa lady, esthetician, nurse, or "MD-supervised tech" go near my face to do anything more than what's mentioned below (greeting me, applying cold compresses, etc.). Forget it! So many horrible reviews on this website are attributed to individuals with spa-level training administering medical procedures like this one. Be cautious!

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