I Think I Really Needed This!

I admit, I almost cancelled my appointment after...

I admit, I almost cancelled my appointment after reading some of the horror stories on this board, but I decided to forge ahead. I had my first fraxel treatment today. Yes, it was a little uncomfortable in spots, like around the lips and the upper eyelids, where it felt like nips of static electricity. But I hardly felt it on the rest of the face.

It's now 6 hours later and I can hardly see that anything was done to my face at all, except for a little redness. And the technician told me she was pretty aggressive for my first treatment. The other reason I'm glad I went was that I got my first really close look at my own skin, after they took the photos and showed them to me.

My gosh -- at age 55, I have a lot more sun damage than I really appreciated. I lived for a number of years in the tropics, and always used sunscreen, but I guess it wasn't enough.

I have a lot of pigmentary changes plus some fine wrinkles around the eyes. But mostly, what I seem to have is incredibly dry and inflamed skin. The technician (she works in a practice supervised by two M.D.'s) spent a lot of time after the treatment emphasizing preventive skin care, and I came home with a number of moisturizing products, plus a recommended sunscreen.

After half a century of pretty much ignoring my skin, I'm now going to be scrupulous about taking care of it. Anyway, so far, I'd consider Fraxel a breeze. I'm going for the full five treatments. (They told me I need them. And I agree.) I know I'm supposed to answer the question: "was it worth it?" It's too early to say. But for now, I'll just check "yes."

Okay, it's now a day and a half since my first...

Okay, it's now a day and a half since my first Fraxel treatment, and I have to say, I don't know what the big deal is with complaints of side effects.  I have only a little swelling, and I went around town to do errands today.  Prior to the treatment, I cancelled a social event for tomorrow, and now I'm sorry I did.  I'd be able to attend it no problem.  I'm just a little bit darker than usual, but only someone looking really closely at me would be able to see I was swollen.

My assessment:  so far, it's a piece of cake.  Just waiting to see what it looks like in a week!

 6 days out:  Skin is no longer red or...

 6 days out:  Skin is no longer red or flaking, and the "tan" is fading.  So far unable to see much difference since before Fraxel, although the skin does feel a little tighter around the eyes.  Still waiting to see improvement...

 Update, May 13: I'm going in for my second...

 Update, May 13: I'm going in for my second Restore treatment this week.  It's been about 4 weeks since my first treatment, and it's taken this long to see the difference.  My age spots have definitely lightened, although it took time for the bronzing effect to fade before I could see the improvements.  One improvement I didn't expect: there's been some tightening of my upper eyelids, so it almost looks like I got a bit of an eye lift.  Without surgery!

So far, I'm happy.  Wondering how much more improvement there'll be with treatments 2 - 5.

 I went in for my second treatment two days...

 I went in for my second treatment two days ago.  Since I reacted so mildly to the first one, she was more aggressive with the Fraxel this time around.  Now it's two days post treatment, and I'm more swollen and red than I was after the first one.  But I knew what to expect, so I'm not concerned -- just hiding my face indoors a little longer than I did the first time around!

One thing that's interesting is that she noticed I have a lot more sun-damage pigmentation on the left side of my face than on my right.  It just so happens that where I work, there's a large window on my left side.  That, plus I spend hours driving in the car.  So yes, those hours spent next to a window do add up to damage.  I haven't been wearing sunscreen while inside the house, but now I will.

 Update May 19: On day #3 after treatment, I...

 Update May 19: On day #3 after treatment, I started peeling.  I looked really grungy and brown and rough, but now  it's a day later and wow!  My skin looks dramatically better than it did after the first treatment a month ago. I'm still pink, and a tad bit swollen around the eyes, but in areas where I've peeled, the skin is really smooth and the coloration is far more even.  I've still got a little peeling left to do.  I'm really pleased that I can see so much improvement after only two treatments.

I definitely needed more downtime this round.  Only today (four days after treatment) do I feel presentable enough to go around town doing errands.

 Update: A few days ago, I had my third...

 Update: A few days ago, I had my third treatment.  The doctor showed me the "before" photo, before I had any treatments, and I can really see improvement already.  He said that after the third treatment is when the improvements really start to show up dramatically.  After the second treatment, a month ago, I had a few post-inflammatory pigmented areas turn up, but they're already fading now.

This third treatment seemed a lot more painful, although the protocol was exactly the same as the first two times.  It may be that I've sloughed off so much dead skin that now what's left is more sensitive.  I knew exactly what to expect afterwards, and so far I've had the usual redness, roughness, and now the peeling.  What's being revealed, after the skin peels, is far smoother and more uniform than it ever was before.  

So far, I can say that I'm really happy.  I have two more treatments to go.

Today, my girlfriend asked me: "Did you have...

Today, my girlfriend asked me: "Did you have plastic surgery or something?"  That's how great my skin looks after 4 Fraxel treatments.

I have to admit, I didn't see a whole lot of improvement after the first two treatments.  After the 3rd, though, things started to happen.  And now, after the fourth -- wow.  My skin looks amazing.  My pigmentation issues (which is why I first went for Fraxel) have cleared up dramatically.  My skin is plumper, smoother, and glowing.  There's even been some tightening effect on my upper eyelids.  I'm 56 years old, and I feel as if I've lost 10 years from my face.

I have one more treatment to go to finish this series.  I am absolutely satisfied with the results so far.

I also think I may have yearly refresher treatments, just to keep the skin cells turning over.

The only downside?  I had some temporary hyperpigmentation after treatment #2, but those cleared up after a few weeks.  I no longer worry about that side effect because I know, if it happens, it is indeed only temporary.

I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this treatment to older women who want improvements in skin texture and pigmentation problems of aging.

 Okay, this is my last entry in my long...

 Okay, this is my last entry in my long five-treatment account.  I am a week post my fifth and final Fraxel treatment.  I did all five treatments over a course of about 8 months (had scheduling issues due to my travel demands) so it took a while to finish the whole series.  

Some observations:

-- It took four treatments before I myself was really able to see significant improvement in the mirror.  But when my doctor showed me my initial photos, I realized that the improvements were already well underway by treatment #3.

-- I had a brief setback after treatment #3 because I  spent two weeks on a sailboat, and despite slathering on sunscreen and wearing huge hats, I couldn't avoid getting some pigmentation issues again.  The doctor responded by turning up the intensity of my 4th treatment.  (Ouch!)   He also added Obagi cream to my regimen.

-- Now that I've finished all five treatments, I can say ... WOW.  My skin is incredibly improved.  My age spots have really faded (although they haven't entirely disappeared.)  My skin feels tighter and it is definitely smoother.

I am really happy I did it.  It was expensive, yes -- but I guess it's a matter of how you want to spend your money.  I don't wear jewelry or expensive clothes or shoes.  What I show the public is my face, and I wanted that to look as good as it could be.

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