Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Fraxel Dual Laser For Dark Skin

When the idea of life returning to a (somewhat) normalcy came into fruition a few months ago, I began looking into professional-grade beauty treatments. You know, so that I could rejoin society with an otherworldly glow. This was how I learned about Fraxel treatments and, consequently, the way they can mess with melanin-rich skin.

My main concern was hyperpigmentation, something that has plagued my skin for as long as I remember. The dark spots on my chest were making me self-conscious at a time when I simply wanted to rejoice and leave the house stress-free in scoop-necked summer dresses. After preliminary research, I decided that Fraxel, a type of laser treatment, was the solution I needed. But my rejuvenation journey quickly hit a speed bump: During a consultation, dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman, M.D. told me Fraxel lasers aren’t always the best choice for darker skin tones.

“Ablative treatments can be riskier for people of color,” she tells Bustle (that means, besides Fraxel, treatments like CO2 and erbium lasers are included). “They can lead to hypo or hyperpigmentation.” As in: If you’re a Fitzpatrick skin type IV to VI, you could wind up with the exact complexion issue you sought to get rid of. For those reasons, she suggested I go with a series of chemical peels instead.

For more intel on the complications with using the Fraxel laser on dark skin tones, Bustle spoke with two medical experts from the Skin Of Color Society — an organization promoting further education of darker skin in dermatology — for everything you need to know before booking a treatment.

Fraxel Dual Laser For Dark Skin

Fraxel is a popular non-invasive skin resurfacing treatment that has gained significant attention in the world of dermatology. This innovative procedure utilizes a microscopic laser to target specific areas of the skin, stimulating collagen production and promoting overall skin rejuvenation. By targeting the deeper layers of the skin, Fraxel can help address a variety of skin concerns, such as sun damage, acne scars, and wrinkles.

One of the key benefits of Fraxel is its ability to stimulate collagen production. Collagen is a protein that plays a crucial role in maintaining the skin’s elasticity and firmness. As we age, our skin’s natural collagen production decreases, leading to the formation of lines and wrinkles. By stimulating collagen production, Fraxel can help improve the overall texture and tone of the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

In addition to stimulating collagen production, Fraxel can also help heal sun damage and acne scars. Sun exposure can cause a variety of skin issues, such as hyperpigmentation, rough texture, and uneven skin tone. By targeting these damaged areas with a microscopic laser, Fraxel can help promote skin cell turnover and reduce the appearance of sun damage. Similarly, Fraxel can also be effective in treating acne scars, as the laser energy can help break down scar tissue and stimulate the growth of new, healthy skin cells.

Overall, Fraxel is a versatile treatment that can help improve the appearance of the skin in a number of ways. Whether you’re looking to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, heal sun damage, or improve the overall texture of your skin, Fraxel may be an effective treatment option for you. It is important to consult with a qualified dermatologist or skin care professional to determine if Fraxel is the right treatment for your specific skin concerns.

In conclusion, Fraxel is a cutting-edge skin resurfacing treatment that offers a range of benefits for those looking to rejuvenate their complexion. By stimulating collagen production, healing sun and acne damage, and reducing the appearance of wrinkles, Fraxel can help improve the overall health and appearance of the skin. If you’re considering Fraxel treatment, be sure to consult with a qualified professional to discuss your options and determine if Fraxel is the right choice for you.

Fraxel gets its name because it’s a fractionated laser, so it’s hitting a specific area of your skin at a time. And within the fractionated laser world, explains Engelman, Fraxel can fall into two buckets: ablative and non-ablative.

“That basically means: Does it break the skin or does it not?” she says. Ablative lasers are the more intense option — they wound and destroy skin cells on both the dermis and epidermis (the top two layers of your skin) to stimulate cell regeneration for a smoother, more even glow. These are commonly used to heal acne scars (including textural ones), diminish visible signs of aging, and get rid of hyperpigmentation.

Non-ablative lasers, however, heat up the tissue without destroying it. Examples are treatments like Fraxel Dual, CoolTouch, and N-lite. These lasers help stimulate collagen and elastin to combat fine lines and wrinkles. And, because non-ablative lasers are less aggressive, it also means they’ll give you milder results. (That’s not to say non-ablative treatments don’t come with downtime, though — Engelman notes the skin will often be red or swollen for a couple of days.).

How Does Fraxel Work?

According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Janiene Luke, M.D., who works at Loma Linda University Medical Center, there’s a common misconception that there is only one kind of Fraxel laser — but there are actually two basic different types, both of which operate differently.

  • Fraxel Dual: This treatment has two different wavelengths (hence the name), and is a newer version of an older version, Fraxel Re:Store. This laser is relatively mild and targets superficial issues like sun spots/damage and fine lines, says Luke. Because of what it targets, it’s not a common treatment for POC, she explains. “This type of Fraxel laser uses heat in tiny zones that ultimately stimulates collagen production,” Luke says. According to Victor, an aesthetic expert at beauty platform Aedit, these treatments usually run somewhere between $1,000 and $1,200. Because it’s a more mild procedure, patients may need more than one visit depending on the severity of their issues.
  • Fraxel Re:pair: Luke explains this kind of Fraxel uses an ablative fractional CO2 laser (carbon dioxide), and it’s the one that is potentially hazardous to POC. It works by wounding and removing the top layer of skin during the treatment. The cost of Fraxel Re:pair varies — it can be anywhere from $800 to $6,500 depending on the area of skin being treated as well as factors like the provider’s cost and location. Because of the severity of Fraxel Re:pair, patients often only need one session.

The Issue With Using Fraxel On Darker Skin Tones

The main problem with using Fraxel (either kind) on darker skin tones — again, Fitzpatrick types IV through VI — is that it generates heat. “This heat can stimulate the melanocytes [melanin-producing skin cells] to create more melanin pigment, and then you would get post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says Engelman. “In very extreme cases, you can get the destruction of melanocytes, which causes pigment dropout or hypopigmentation, aka white spots.”

Because of this risk, Engelman says your dermatologist should make sure they’re being as safe as possible when using a laser on BIPOC skin. “In Fitzpatrick types IV to VI, we tend to handle [lasers] with kid gloves because we never want to do any harm, and those [lasers] have the potential to do so,” she explains.

Luke also points to studies that have found ablative lasers used on darker skin types resulted in complications. “Studies done have found [ablative] Fraxel to be associated with acne breakouts, swelling, hyperpigmentation, and prolonged redness or swelling,” she says.

Alternative Treatments To Fraxel For BIPOC

It’s not all doom and gloom — there are treatments for hyperpigmentation and acne scars that are safe for BIPOC skin. Here’s what the experts recommend.

Microneedling: Microneedling essentially uses tiny needles to puncture the skin to trigger fast healing and a boost of collagen to improve pigmentation and texture and diminish acne scars. You can get this done at your derm’s office or DIY with a microneedling tool (which have surged on beauty shelves). Both are safe for all skin tones since they’re not compromising the epidermis. That said, using the device at home requires regular use to see results. Davis’ tip? If you want to see the best improvement in your skin, stick with professional treatments.

Radiofrequency microneedling: Radiofrequency microneedling is a souped-up version of the treatment you can get at a dermatologist’s office. Engelman points to the Genius Laser as a great example within this category: “The needles are coated with radiofrequency at the tips, so, with the coating, it doesn’t generate heat in the dermis,” she says. This means the needles bypass the melanocytes in darker skin tones to stimulate collagen, so there’s no risk of pigmentation. Engelman recommends this treatment if you’re concerned with textural changes or boxcar acne scars. People typically need around four to six treatments to treat the entire face, and the price can start at $100 per session and increase depending on your specific circumstance.

Chemical peels: Chemical peels are a better choice when you’re treating hyperpigmentation or surface-level concerns, says Engelman. You can do at-home peels or get these done in an office, and there is a platter of different options to choose from — including glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinoic acid. Luke recommends consulting your dermatologist to determine which is right for you as the specifics of the peels vastly vary.

All in all, it’s important to do your research before booking any kind of laser treatment since there are higher risks of scarring and inflammation in darker skin types. This is especially the case if the operator doesn’t have experience working with people of color, says Dr. DiAnne Davis, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist with North Dallas Dermatology Associates. Her advice? Before confirming your treatment, ask some basic questions (besides first making sure your practitioner is licensed, of course): “How much experience do they have in treating POC? Is the particular treatment safe for POC? How many treatments have they performed on POC? Have they had any complications in treatments on POC? What are alternative treatment options? Do they have before and after photos of treatments they can show you?” Getting all the intel ahead of time can help ensure you don’t wind up with any adverse reactions.

Fraxel Laser For Scar Removal

Fraxel is a trademark name for a skin-resurfacing tool that uses fractional laser technology. The Fraxel device makes microscopic injuries to the skin in specific areas. The skin reacts by producing new healthy cells to heal the damage and replace the old tissue.

In short, Fraxel laser damages the skin gently to stimulate the body’s natural healing process and boost collagen production.

This technique works for a variety of skin issues, from unwanted pigmentation (sunspots, brown spots, age spots) to such imperfections as scars (acne, post-op, etc.). Some patients take advantage of this laser treatment to shrink pores and improve the skin tone.

The major advantage of Fraxel laser over other efficient acne scar solutions is that it’s minimally invasive. Without surgery, it’s possible to achieve both skin repair and rejuvenation effects.

Fraxel laser is FDA-approved for treating acne scars.

3 Types of Fraxel Laser

If you decide to take advantage of Fraxel laser for acne scar treatment, you have a choice of three different laser types.

Fraxel Repair

Fraxel Repair (also called Fraxel Re:pair) is the most aggressive of all Fraxel laser options. This ablative laser delivers an intense stream of light to the scarred area and vaporizes columns of skin, so they can be replaced with healthy cells.

Fraxel Repair works well on acne scars but can also be used for sun damage, deep wrinkles, and other skin texture issues.

For five to seven days after the treatment, you can experience redness, swelling, bleeding, oozing, and crusting. This usually means taking at least a week off work.

Fraxel Restore

Fraxel Restore (or Re:store) is much gentler than Repair. It uses a non-ablative laser to heat the skin and stimulate collagen production. It doesn’t work on deep acne scars or severe skin damage. However, it may be efficient for slight scarring, pigmentation, and moderate texture issues.

While you may experience some swelling and redness after the treatment, the total downtime usually doesn’t exceed a couple of days.

Fraxel Dual

Fraxel Dual is the new generation Fraxel laser that’s a combination of the above two types. It generates two different wavelengths (1550 and 1927) — one for superficial scarring and pigmentation, the other for deeper scars and wrinkles.

The recovery time after using Fraxel Dual is about three days. While the treated areas can become red or swollen, there isn’t any bleeding. In some cases, the downtime may last up to a week.

How Many Fraxel Laser Treatments Do I Need?

Many acne sufferers are turning to laser treatments because they hope for an immediate effect. However, when it comes to acne scars, it’s impossible to remove them quickly.

Unless the issue is truly minor, you need to get ready for at least three Fraxel laser sessions. Patients with deep acne scars require as many as six to eight visits to achieve optimal results. The time between treatments is usually 4 to 6 weeks.

One Fraxel laser session lasts from 15 to 45 minutes depending on the area you want to cover.

Are the Results of Fraxel Laser Permanent?

When it comes to removing acne scars, the effect of Fraxel laser treatments is long-lasting but not permanent. Depending on the depth and severity of initial scars, the effect can last for several years.

While Fraxel is far from being a miracle treatment, it can address acne scar issues that other treatments can’t handle. Follow-up sessions spaced 3 to 7 years apart may be necessary.

Younger patients can expect to enjoy better outcomes than people older than 50. The fresher acne scars are, the easier they are to defeat. For long-established and extremely deep acne scars, you may want to consider a fractional CO2 laser.

How Do I Prepare for a Fraxel Laster Treatment?

While the Fraxel treatment doesn’t require any serious preparations, there are a few important steps to take:

  • Stop all other skin and acne treatments several weeks before the first Fraxel session (you can continue with other cosmetic treatments a couple of weeks after the procedure).
  • Don’t use any active products (Retinols, abrasive scrubs, peels, etc.) for at least a week before the treatment.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol on the day of the treatment.
  • Eat a healthy meal two hours before the treatment.

Your dermatologist will go over the preparation steps once you schedule the first Fraxel session. It’s important to share all information about acne scar treatments you are currently doing or have done in the past.

What Are the Side Effects of Fraxel Treatment for Acne Scarring?


Understanding Fraxel Laser Treatment

Fraxel laser treatment is a popular cosmetic procedure used to improve the appearance of skin, targeting issues such as fine lines, wrinkles, scars, and pigmentation. The treatment works by creating controlled micro-injuries to the skin, stimulating collagen production and revealing fresher, smoother skin.

Minimal Side Effects

One of the key benefits of Fraxel laser treatment is its minimal side effects due to the minor damage caused to the skin. After a session, patients can expect some common side effects which typically subside within a few days. These side effects may include:

  • Swelling: The treated area may appear swollen for a few days post-treatment.

  • Redness: Redness or pinkness of the skin is common and can last for a few days.

  • Crusting: The skin may crust or flake as it heals, revealing the new skin underneath.
  • Re:pair Option

For those seeking more aggressive treatment, the Re:pair option is available. This option involves deeper penetration of the laser, resulting in more dramatic results but also an increased risk of side effects. In some cases, patients undergoing the Re:pair option may experience:

  • Bleeding: Due to the deeper penetration of the laser, some bleeding may occur during or after the treatment.

  • Oozing: Oozing of clear fluid or blood may also occur, which is typically temporary.

It is important to discuss your goals and preferences with a qualified dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon before undergoing Fraxel laser treatment to determine the best approach for your individual needs.

Side Effects Commonality Duration
Swelling Common Up to a few days
Redness Common Up to a few days
Crusting Common Temporary
Bleeding Possible (Re:pair option) Temporary
Oozing Possible (Re:pair option) Temporary

The Takeaway: Is Fraxel Laser Effective for Acne Scars?

The Fraxel laser technology is based on the body’s ability to heal itself, producing healthy skin tissue to replace damaged cells. Studies show that Fraxel laser is an effective treatment for mild to medium-depth acne scars. While the procedure damages the skin, injuries are minor, and so is the downtime.

If you are unhappy with your acne scars, Fraxel could become an excellent solution. With its high efficiency and minimal side effects, this laser treatment can make a significant difference in your appearance.

Fraxel Scar Removal Cost

According to RealSelf.com – a website where real patients submit reviews on popular cosmetic treatments – fractional laser treatments cost on average $450 a treatment for the Clear and Brilliant Laser and $975 for the Fraxel Dual Laser.  Multiple treatments are often needed depending on the indication for treatment. Sometimes discounts are available if sessions are booked as part of a package.

The cost of your fractional laser treatment may vary depending on:

  • How many treatments you need to get results
  • How well your skin responds to fractional laser treatments
  • The cost-of-living index where you live
  • The experience and expertise of your fractional laser provider
  • The indication for fractional laser treatment…and more

The best way to find out how much your fractional laser treatment may cost and which fractional laser treatment is right for you is to schedule an appointment with an expert laser skin resurfacing provider

Fraxel Vs Fractional Laser

Fractional CO2 laser treatment is different from Fraxel in that it removes the entire top layer of skin tissue as opposed to targeting specific areas. Like Fraxel, fractional CO2 can also reduce the appearance of dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and any other aging concerns.

Because fractional CO2 treatment targets the entire top layer of skin, this treatment is more likely to produce side effects, including scarring and patches of whitened skin. Additionally, this skin rejuvenation treatment may not reduce redness or the appearance of red blood vessels, and may not improve deep wrinkles—particularly those around the mouth. The recovery period from fractional CO2 treatment usually takes between four weeks and four months.

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