I've been reading alot of reviews online about the positive and negative effects of fraxel laser. Let me begin by tellign you I've had cystic acne since I was 10 years old. It's been the most embarrassing thing I've had to deal with almost my entire life. I've been teased and humiliated in so many ways for my acne, I could probably write the best book on bullying.
When I was 16, I went on Accutane. It was a godsend. My skin cleared up, but a year later I developed very deep and pitted ice pick scars, "pock marks" as everyone would comment all the time. Still embarrassing. I became suicidal and was committed to a psych ward. I later discovered that the Accutane causes depression and also has shown to be the cause of a high rate of suicide.
It gets worse.
The acne came back, and spread to my entire body. My back, my butt, even my armpits. I was ashamed of myself, my body, everything. I couldn't go to the beach unless I was wearing an oversized shirt and tons of makeup.
Eventually I accepted I would be the ugly girl forever. The sad thing is I'm really pretty and have a great toned slender body (I'm an athlete), and I'm smart (4.0 student), but my horrific acne just got in the way of every opportunity... dating, jobs, everything. I was the pathetic girl no one wanted to talk to.
One day, I went to see a cosmetic surgeon. She suggested I do a dermabrasion. It was way too expensive for me at the time, and I asked if there was a less pricey alternative. She said Fraxel Repair would be the next thing down. I desperately agreed, we signed all the paperwork and I forked over the $2500.
She prescribed me some medications, and gave me instructions on preparation. I week later I came back to her office for the procedure and the procedure began.
After the numbing cream and pain killers, we did the laser all over my face. It was excruciating. I took a cab home and took a couple of days to recuperate. A week later I noticed no improvement, and my skin looked irritated. I was devastated. I was meant to be ugly forever, I thought. I was a lost cause. I cried for days, even in her office during the follow up. She offered to do another one complimentary, and I agreed, saying we would have to go deepest on her highest setting and really kick my skin's ass. She agreed. BUT she said I had to wait one year because getting laser in the summertime is unsafe and could cause hyper pigmentation. I begged and pleaded, but she said firmly "NO" and I had no choice but to comply.
One year later I skipped into her office with high hopes. They drugged me up A LOT on painkillers, I felt so good. She took a really long time on my face, much longer than last time. It hurt very very much, and my face bled a little. I didn't care, I needed beautiful skin. I took a cab home and recovered.
II must say, my skin looked GORGEOUS. I did not have to wear makeup at all. I was 25 years old and my face looked like I was 15. I was getting asked to show my ID every club I went and every time I went to the liquor store, which had never happened before. People even started to ask me out! They would ask my age to make sure I was of legal age. I WAS SO HAPPY. My career took off, I became a world touring DJ and I couldn't imaging life being any better. Truly a cinderella story.
2 years later, my lifestyle took a toll on my skin... smoky clubs, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes... My skin was hitting the dumps. I did a couple of VIPeels (chemical peels) which helped refresh my skin's appearance, but didn't do what Fraxel did. I realized I needed to change my lifestyle. I started drinking 16 glasses of water a day, joined a gym, took a yoga classes 3x a week, cut down my partying to twice a week, struggled to quit smoking (smoking was really what destroyed my skin the most), and getting 8-9 hours of sleep every night. My youthfulness began to return and I was thrilled. But my career started to sink. I didn't care, because I believe my health is more important than my career. I switched careers and now design clothing for different brands, make documentaries, am a songwriter and run a record label. Anything out of the sun and away from the drugs and alcohol.
I am now 29, and my age is beginning to show. I miss being "15" I now look about 26, which is ok but I want my youth back. I decided to go back to my trusty fountain of youth, Fraxel.
I moved to a new city, so I had to find a new doctor. I found one pretty easily, we set up an appointment. I was a little surprised they didn't prescribe me the precautionary medications, but like before, I was desperate to be beautiful. I refused to be the ugly girl again and lose my fairy tale life. 4 weeks ago I went in for the procedure. I discovered the person doing the procedure was a nurse & aesthetician , not a doctor. This made me a concerned, because combined with the lack of precautionary meds this was a red flag. I thought "how bad could this be? New Year's is around the corner and I need to look good!", and went ahead with it anyway. When I told the nurse I needed an extremely deep procedure, she agreed and we began. Same process... numbing cream, painkillers. When she operated on me, it wasn't very painful... felt like laser hair removal that I had a few months ago on my bikini line. Like a rubber band snapping occasionally. However it was very quick, and I doubted it was strong enough. I was right. Same result as the first time... acne breakout, redness and just ugly. Even 3 weeks later. Extreme dryness, dry eyes, chapped lips, and my wrinkles seemed exaggerated. I was ashamed to go outside. I went online to read some reviews and this is when I discovered all the miserable stories about people's faces being destroyed from the laser. I was horrified. I became really paranoid and started comparing my face with the descriptions in people's posts. Fortunately, I come from a medical background (my parents are both doctors) and was able to do scientific in depth research. Here is what I discovered:
1) Your skin is 80% water. The Fraxel laser heats your skin and causes dehydration. My dry eyes, chapped lips and dry skin were all symptoms of dehydration. I immediately applied Aquaphor to my entire face, and drank 20 glasses of water. I repeated this for 3 days. My skin came back to life, my wrinkles returned to normal and I felt a lot better. My acne had began to clear and I was able to apply makeup without it looking like the sahara. This relief all happened within 3 days.
2) Additionally, you can go to the site, IPL and Laser Damage. Resources Which Support Potential for Damage from Cosmetic Devices" lists a study which concluded the hazards of the laser:
"IPL irradiation produces considerable amounts of lipid peroxides, an indicator of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been associated with a number of deleterious effects; beyond premature aging of the skin, it has been shown to promote skin cancer in experimental animal models. However, the level of lipid peroxides in IPL-exposed skin was six times as high as in nonirradiated skin and twice as high as in skin exposed to UVA light. These preliminary results indicate that IPL, although filtered for wavelengths shorter than 500 nm, can generate oxidative stress, a typical hallmark of UV-A, but does not induce thymine dimers. This emphasizes the need for long-term studies involving IPL before using this technique in a recurrent manner. "- Oliver Sorg
3) The laser also has an effect on the untouched DNA cells near the zapped ones... sort of like a "meme" domino effect. The skin has a way of repairing itself, which is why the Fraxel is so effective. But if the amount of zapping outdoes the amount of time the cells have to rebuild themselves, they will shut down, permanently. That is basically the definition for cause of death. If your ailment outweighs your strength, you do not have ability to recover. THIS IS WHY I BELIEVE TIME BETWEEN TREATMENTS, is the leading cause of destructive results. People should wait at least 6 months in between treatments! I don't understand why they are recommending 4 weeks... that is not enough time for your cells to go back to 100%. You can read about this here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19587691"Active Thermal By-Stander Effect - This study shows that, in the absence of any direct heating, heat diffusion, or cell-to-cell contact, "bystander" cells that share the medium with heat-exposed cells exhibit DNA damage, apoptosis, and loss of viability."
Continuing my story... I went the doctor's office for a follow up a few days ago. The nurse was surprised to see no improvements in my skin, and I reminded her that my skin was very resistant to treatment and needed the highest setting. We agreed I need another more intensive Fraxel treatment. She immediately offered to do another one in a week. I was shocked, as I knew my skin wasn't anywhere near being healed yet. Of course I declined, and decided to revisit 5 months from now. I also decided I would have the Doctor do the procedure this time, not the nurse, as a precautionary measure.
I am still taking exquisite care of my skin: applying Aquaphor when I'm at home, drinking 16 glasses of water a day, and staying out of the sun. No smoking no drinking alcohol. My skin is glowing. Though it's not back to my teen face for now, once it's %100 healed up I will bring it back.
-DO NOT GET YOUR PROCEDURES DONE SOONER THAN 6 MONTHS IN BETWEEN THEM. I even recommend 1 year for precaution: better safe than sorry.
-No sun, smoking, caffeine or alcohol. These all heavily contribute to dehydration.
-Hydrate. A LOT. 8-16 glasses of water per day... the more the better.
-Aquaphor, Aquaphor, Aquaphor!!!
-Try not to get laser done in the summer time. It will make it unnecessarily difficult for you to avoid complications.