Fraxel Laser Treatments in Northern Virginia
Who knew computers could make us look younger? The Fraxel Laser facelift uses a computer to direct laser energy to be used on the skin. It is an advanced treatment option that is FDA approved to treat many skin issues.
How Does Fraxel Work?
The Fraxel hand piece assesses the skin and sends light energy deep into the skins layers. At the same time, the skin on the top level is resurfaced. It does this at the microscopic level. This in turn prompts the skin to create new collagen. Collagen is responsible for keeping the skin plump and firm. As such, with new collagen, the look of fine lines is reduced and the skin looks firmer and younger.
Since the Fraxel laser works on the microscopic level and is computer controlled, it can target very specific areas. It can create microscopic injuries below the surface. These injuries are what prompt the body to rejuvenate itself as it heals. In the end, this reverses some signs of aging and skin imperfections. The new skin that results is healthier.
Yes. Fraxel is a safe. It is a non-invasive treatment. It has been safely used in the US and is FDA approved. The manufacturer reports that it has more FDA clearances than any other computer-generated laser in its class. There have been more than 30,000 skin tissue samples checked for efficacy and safety. It is FDA approved for:
- Wrinkles around the eyes
- Acne scars and surgical
- Age spots and sunspots (pigmented lesions)
- Melasma (irregular patches of brown skin on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip and nose)
- Actinic Keratoses (precancerous lesions)
- Skin resurfacing
Fraxel is beneficial for women and men for all skin colors. Whether a person is in their 30’s and just starting to see wrinkles, to those in their 60’s or older with deeper lines and loose skin, the Fraxel laser treatments can be used to help improve the look of your skin.
With so many treatment options, most people qualify to use Fraxel. There are not limitations in terms of age, skin type, or skin color. In fact, other laser treatments carry a risk of scarring and discoloration for African Americans, Latinos, and Asians because their skin contains more melanin than Caucasian skin. Differences in melanin are not a problem with Fraxel treatment. It treats deep within the skin and targets microscopic areas, so it is safe for all skin colors. It leaves the rest of the tissue unchanged and does not affect the pigmentation.
What can Fraxel be used for?
Fraxel for wrinkles
Wrinkles often are formed after years of making the same expressions over and over. Even laughing can eventually create wrinkles. In essence, any time the facial muscles move (for example, when you squint or when you smile) it can eventually lead to wrinkles later. Our eyes often show more wrinkles than elsewhere. The skin near our eyes ages faster and is more fragile. Over time, everyone’s skin will wrinkle. The best we can do to slow the process is to use moisturizers and sunscreen. To avoid squinting, wear a hat and sunglasses when in the sun.
The Fraxel Laser will help to prompt new skin growth. It can also remove damaged skin. Both aspects will reduce the look of wrinkles. Fraxel is less invasive than other procedures and has a shorter recovery than treatments like chemical peels.
Fraxel for scar reduction*
Many people have scars from acne or from other surgeries. Acne scars can have several different looks. They may appear indented or raised, and they may or may not be a different color to the surrounding skin. Overall, they can make the skin appear to be uneven. Surgical scars of course come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures.
In general, to treat any kind of scar, the damaged skin should be removed. Then the skin should be treated to promote collagen production (which promotes a smoother, fuller look). In the past, abrasion, chemical peels, other lasers, and other ointments have been used to treat scars. However, these do not get great results. They can also get rid of healthy tissue at the same time and may not heal quickly.
Fraxel treatments are a better option because they address both issues at once. Collagen production is prompted at the deep skin levels while the damaged skin at the surface is removed. Fraxel treatments can be targeted so that the good tissue remains untouched. The result is a softer look and better skin texture. All of this without much downtime.
Fraxel Treats: Age or Sun Spots*
What do liver spots, sun spots, age spots, and brown spots all have in common? They’re all the same thing. These dark spots are caused by sun exposure. They can be found anywhere on the body that gets direct sunlight. The body sometimes produces too much melanin in an attempt to protect itself from UV rays. This is what causes age spots to form.
In general, these spots do not cause any problems. However, since they are associated with aging, they can make you look older than your true age.
In the past, age spots were treated with acids, bleaches, pulsed light treatments, other lasers, or by freezing the skin. These treatments were only minimally effective.
Fraxel treatment is quite targeted. As such, it can treat age spots directly without affecting the surrounding tissue.
Fraxel for Melasma*
Melasma is a different type of brown patch on the skin. They typically occur on the face and are more common in women because they are caused by changes in hormones—typically from pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, or taking hormones after menopause or hysterectomy. Melasma may go away after hormone levels return to normal, but in some cases it does not.
Traditional remedies include:
- enzyme inhibitors
- depigmenting agents
- steroid creams
- pulsed light
- chemical or acid peels
- aggressive dermabrasion
- traditional laser treatments
For some women, the brown patches will fade after the hormones return to normal. This may occur after having a child, stopping hormone therapy, or stopping the use of oral contraceptives. However, in many cases, melasma will not go away on its own. Melasma is not dangerous but it can still affect self-confidence. This prompts many women to use makeup to try to hide the spots.
These methods often deliver less than ideal results. They also need a lot of time to heal, and there is a risk of adverse complications. As you can see, other treatments have failed. Fraxel treatment, on the other hand:
- Has received FDA approval for significantly reducing melasma
- Minimizes downtime and discomfort
Skin Resurfacing with Fraxel
Skin resurfacing is one of the many treatments that Fraxel has been FDA approved for. Skin resurfacing can treat large pores, uneven tone, redness or other discoloration, irregular texture, loose skin and other imperfections. As with all of the other items in this list, Fraxel is not the only treatment option, but it has fewer side effects and less downtime than most alternatives. Skin resurfacing in particular is usually done with treatments that actually remove the top layer of skin. Scraping, peeling, or cutting the surface of the skin is obviously more invasive. It’s no surprise that most skin resurfacing options involve risks, downtime, and pain.
Fraxel is different since it is so exact. It can be used on a pin-pointed area and creates results with less damage to tissues. It is gentle enough to use on areas that have more fragile skin, like the chest, neck, and hands.
Fraxel for Actinic Keratosis
If you haven’t heard of Actinic Keratosis (AK), count yourself lucky. This condition can lead to skin cancer if it is not treated. In fact, it is such a common precancerous condition that it affects over 10 million Americans. AK presents itself as scaly, red skin patches. It can be found on the neck, face, ears, lips, scalp, back of the hands, or forearms.
In the past, AK was treated with dermabrasion. It may also have been surgically removed or even frozen off. While these treatments can be effective, they also have side effects, long recoveries, and can hurt.
Fraxel can treat AK as well and may have a shorter recovery and less pain than the alternatives. Since Fraxel prompts the body to create collagen it can help prompt the body to heal itself from within. The changes in skin tone can even help to prevent more damage later.
Fraxel, however, cannot treat skin cancer.
Fraxel sends microscopic beams of light into the skin
Think of Fraxel as a device that delivers thousands of microscopic columns of light into the skin. The width of the beams and depth of penetration of the laser beams is controlled by the computer. The laser columns enter into the skin surface and create microscopic zones of injury. Because the Fraxel columns are so precise, only a fraction of the skin is treated with each pass. This leaves the other areas of skin untouched and able to aid in the healing of the skin. This allows the skin to heal and turn over much faster than by nature alone. The new skin grows in, is fresh, younger, smoother and healthier. This makes the skin look better.
The upper layer of the skin (the surface) is the epidermis. There is a layer under this skin layer called the dermis. In the dermis, there are networks of collagen and elastin. These proteins are responsible for the strength, support, and tone of the skin. Sun damage and age both tend to break down the dermal layer. These make the skin wrinkle and lose its sheen.
Is Fraxel Safe? What Are the Risks and Side Effects?
Fraxel is FDA approved – in fact, it is reported that Fraxel has more FDA clearances than its direct competitors. It is cleared for use in all of the areas we’ve outlined above.
One of the biggest benefits is that Fraxel is minimally invasive. The risks are much less than many other treatments for the same conditions. However, it does not come without side effects. Here are some examples of possible side effects:
- Even with the use of topical numbing agents and cold air, patients can still feel the heat of the laser during the treatment.
- Swelling for a day or two after treatment is common.
- After the process is finished, it may feel like you have a sunburn for a few days. It may also have the look of a sunburn: a pink or red tone is common and the skin will eventually flake and exfoliate. Using moisturizers and wearing makeup to hide this is fine. Much like some sunburns, the skin will eventually look more bronze as the redness fades in the following days and weeks. This process will repeat itself with each treatment.
- As part of this process, the skin may also feel rough and dry. It may itch. This may last for a couple weeks.
- Infection or scars can result from Fraxel, though the risk is small.
- The skin may take longer to heal than normal.
- Acne may occur in the areas treated, especially if you’re prone to it.
- If you have the herpes virus, this treatment may cause it to reactivate.
Check out the photos below to see some of the Fraxel results during the first stages of recovery.
The Fraxel pictures above show the before and after Fraxel treatment in the early phase.*
n these photos, you can see the redness and swelling. You should also see, however, that the effect is not enough to prevent normal activities during healing.
How many side effects you experience (and how long they last) will depend on the specifics of your treatment. It will also depend on your own ability to heal quickly. After your treatment, you will be given a lot of information on how to minimize any issues and what to expect as you heal. One important tip is to minimize sun exposure for three months or more after treatment. Of course, wearing sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) for any sun exposure is also advised. It can also help to wear a hat any time you will be in the sun.
What is the cost of Fraxel?
The total cost for Fraxel Laser treatments will depend on what condition is being treated and how many sessions are needed. In general, however, each session ranges from $700-$1300 and most conditions take anywhere from three to five treatments spaced two to four weeks apart.
George Washington University Professional Center
The Loudoun Center for Plastic Surgery
45155 Research Place, Suite 125
Ashburn, VA 20165