New research, advanced techniques and improved devices introduced to the market can make coming up with an informed decision quite difficult and time consuming, so we hope that this key information, combined with your dermatologist’s advice, will help you to make a decision.
There are two kinds of fractional laser. There’s the more gentle option of the Fraxel laser, or the alternative option is the CO2 laser. The best one to use depends on the individual patient and the skin condition being treated.
What Does a Fraxel Laser Treat?
Generally speaking, Fraxel treatment are suited for patients under 50 years of age who have moderate acne scarring or fine wrinkles. These lasers are used for:
- Moderate sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles, and skin aging. This may be on the face, neck and chest, or even on the hands, arms and back;
- Shallow acne scarring and other scars;
- Some cases of melasma;
- Reducing the appearance of fine lines around the eyes;
- Improving the tone and texture of the skin; and
- Rejuvenating sun damaged skin by replacing it with new skin, and thus reducing precancerous lesions
Skin pigmentation and the Fraxel Dual
Fraxel lasers are generally unsuitable for treating redness of the skin, however IPL and ND Yag lasers are more suitable for this condition. Fraxel can work well in reducing brown pigmentation. If you have problems with pigmentation, then this is something that you and your dermatologist will need to keep in mind. You may decide to elect the Fraxel Dual, which works well in skin pigmentation cases.
The Fraxel Dual is the recommended option for treating brown sun spots and dark patches, particularly on large areas such as the chest, legs and back, as it generally works better than the Fraxel. However, more research is required to determine its effect on melasma.
How does fractional laser skin resurfacing work?
A series of treatments are carried out every few weeks. Depending on your condition, the laser’s effect and your down time, the gap between treatments can vary between three to eight weeks. In general, around four treatments are required.
The way the Fraxel laser works is it induces a thermal injury (microthermal zone) deep in the skin, which triggers the natural healing processes. The skin is repaired when sun damaged skin is eliminated and replaced with fresh skin cells. In each treatment, approximately 15% of the affected skin is replaced in this way. Collagen is also produced in the skin, which helps in achieving a healthy appearance.
One of the great benefits of Fraxel laser treatment is that it achieves results while presenting minimal discomfort and low risk. For young patients in the 30-50 age range, or those who don’t have the ability to take much time out from work, Fraxel laser treatment is often the preferred choice.
Combining Fraxel with other treatments
Fraxel laser can be used even if you wish to undergo other cosmetic treatment for your wrinkles or scars. It can be applied in conjunction with Restylane and Juvederm, among other semi-permanent fillers, with a wait of one week recommended after Fraxel treatment before going ahead with the fillers. If you want to use Sculptra then it’s better to have the laser treatments first.
What Does the CO2 System Treat?
Fractioned CO2 lasers are a modern advancement in non-surgical skin improvement and rejuvenation. It has similar uses to that of other fractional lasers, but it is usually the better option for older patients who have deeper wrinkles, and those who have some skin tightening, deep acne scarring, or other severe scarring. This is because CO2 lasers can treat the affected area more deeply.
CO2 lasers can be safely used on darker skin by making adjustments to device settings. It is also a suitable option for delicate skin, such as that on the eyelids and around the mouth, as well as for precancerous growths. These lasers are also effective for improving blotchiness and general skin texture.
Some CO2 lasers can be adapted so enable customised treatment for individual conditions and areas of the body, which often makes them an attractive option.
Recovery time with CO2 laser systems
A side effect of the CO2 system is that more downtime is required after using it in comparison to the Fraxel. If you don’t have the option of taking time out of work or your normal day-to-day routine, then CO2 laser treatment on the face is not an ideal choice. It can, however, be ok to use on other areas of the body that can be easily and comfortably covered up.
Areas in which it is ineffective
As with Fraxel lasers, CO2 systems are ineffective for treating redness of the skin, including dilated blood vessels and blotchiness on the neck called poikiloderma. For these types of problems a medical graded IPL can be more suitable.
Making the Right Decision for You
Choosing the best fractional laser for your requirements takes some time and commitment. This involves selecting a professional dermatology centre with reputable dermatologists who can use fractional laser equipment to their best potential. Your specialist will help you to make the right decision for your needs and for your skin.