Fraxel Laser Facelifts
Cosmetic Plastic Surgery and Laser Facelifts for Northern Virginia, Ashburn, Leesburg, Loudoun, and Fairfax areas
Fraxel is a renewing laser treatment effective for many ages and skin types. It is a computer that uses laser energy to treat the skin. Fraxel can treat many skin conditions such as:
Improve tone and texture of your skin
- Erase unwanted brown spots that have occurred due to time and aging
- Reduce fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes
- Improve the appearance of acne scars and surgical scars
- Create smoother, fresher, younger looking skin!
Is Fraxel Safe?
Yes. Fraxel is a safe, 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. In fact, 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: Who Can Benefit?
Almost everyone! Fraxel is beneficial for men and women of all ages and for all skin colors. Whether you are in your 30’s and just starting to see wrinkles, in your 60’s or older with deeper lines and loose skin, or any age in between, the Fraxel laser treatments can be used to help improve the look of your skin.
African American, Latino and Asian skin types generally have more melanin (pigment) than Caucasian skin. This means they are at a higher risk for discoloration and scarring with conventional laser treatments. Fraxel treatment, on the other hand, is safe and effective for all skin colors. Because it targets microscopic areas deep in the skin, Fraxel leaves the surrounding tissue intact without scarring or increased pigmentation.
Fraxel Treatment Options
Fraxel for Wrinkles
Fraxel wrinkle treatments remove the damaged skin. The laser also promotes new skin growth. This will soften the effects of the wrinkle. Expressions like smiling, laughing and squinting involve the contraction of facial muscles; this can lead to wrinkles, furrows and fine lines. If you have wrinkles around your eyes or anywhere else on your face, you have probably had a wonderful life rich with laughter and emotional experiences.
Wrinkles can develop almost anywhere, but the skin around your eyes is more at risk. This is because it is more delicate and tends to age faster. The wrinkles around the eyes are also called ‘crow’s feet.’ These types of lines can also be on the cheeks or near the mouth. Chemical peels or aggressive lasers can remove these types of lines, but these types of treatments need a long recovery time.
To help to prevent wrinkles and fine lines near the eyes, always wear sunscreen (with an SPF of at least 30) during the day; also wear a high-quality cream at night. Wear sunglasses or a hat (or both) to reduce squinting in the sun. For more prevention tips, please visit the skin care techniques pages.
Fraxel Treatments: Acne Scar and Surgical Scar
Acne scars are quite common. They can occur as the skin heals from pimples. Whiteheads and blackheads can form when oil, bacteria and dead cells are stuck below the skin’s surface. Acne scars are often seen as sunken marks or as raised, red areas; these can give the skin a wavy look. Surgical scars, on the other hand, form naturally as skin heals from an incision.
Treatment of acne scars and surgical scars requires two things. 1) The removal of damaged acne skin, and 2) the production of new collagen to improve the area’s tone and texture. Traditional acne scar treatment approaches include:
- deep chemical peels
- conventional lasers
- topical agents
- abrasion therapies
These usually get only modest results. Worse, they can get rid of a lot of good tissue along with the acne scar. Also, these treatments often require a long time to heal.
Fraxel acne treatments remove the damaged skin on the surface. They also reach deep into the skin to promote collagen growth. This improves the softness, texture and tone of the skin. It also keeps your healthy tissue intact, which reduces discomfort and downtime.
While you can’t change the genetics that sometimes cause acne, you can take these steps to keep skin clean and clear from acne:
- Cleanse with a mild, non-drying soap in the morning, at night and after exercise.
- Remove makeup before going to bed.
- Clean makeup brushes regularly in soapy water
- Throw out old makeup.
- Wash your hair daily, especially if it’s oily.
- Keep hair off your face by pulling it back as often as possible.
- Avoid squeezing, picking or rubbing pimples(which can lead to scarring).
Fraxel Treatments: Age or Sun Spots
Despite the name, age spots are due more to the sun than to age. These spots also called sunspots, brown spots or liver spots. They are flat, uneven dark patches and can be on the:
- other areas that are regularly exposed to the sun
Even though these types of spots are usually harmless, these blotchy brownish patches can make you look and feel older than you really are.
When you are in the sun, your body reacts by making a pigment called melanin. Melanin protects your skin from ultraviolet rays. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, your skin may overreact by making too much melanin. That increased pigmentation can result in age spots.
Conventional techniques for improving the appearance of age spots include:
- acid washes
- pulsed light
- traditional laser treatments
But such techniques often fade the spots only slightly.
Fraxel treatment, on the other hand, is FDA approved to treat age spots and other pigment issues both on and off the face. And since the Fraxel laser treats just one small area of tissue at a time while leaving healthy skin intact, it gives a clear improvement with little downtime.
Fraxel: Melasma Treatment
Melasma shows up as patches of brown skin on the face. These can be on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip and nose. It is most common in women and it affects about 45 million people worldwide. Melasma is often caused by hormonal changes associated with:
- oral contraceptives
- hormone replacement therapy
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.
Traditional remedies include:
- enzyme inhibitors
- depigmenting agents
- steroid creams
- pulsed light
- chemical or acid peels
- aggressive dermabrasion
- traditional laser treatments
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
Fraxel: Removal of Actinic Keratosis
Actinic Keratosis (AK) appears as red, scaly patches of skin. It can appear on the face, lips, ears, forearms, scalp, neck, or back of the hands. It affects more than 10 million Americans. AK is the most common precancerous skin condition. This means, if left untreated, Actinic Keratosis can lead to skin cancer. Fraxel is not used for the treatment of skin cancer.
Traditional AK treatments include surgery, freezing and dermabrasion. Each of these is somewhat effective, but they have major side effects. They also have pain and a long recovery time. Fraxel, in contrast, has FDA approval to effectively remove AK. It also stimulates the body’s natural production of collagen to heal the skin. This tightens and tones the skin and prevents future damage. This is done all without surgery, complications or long downtime.
Fraxel for Skin Resurfacing
What if your skin has issues to correct that don’t fall into any of the areas above? Issues like uneven tone, redness, or large pores can be a concern. These types of issues can be fixed with skin resurfacing.
To resurface your skin and correct imperfections, there are many options. These include chemical peels, aggressive ablative lasers and dermabrasions. These types of treatments are considered ‘ablative’ treatments. This means they actually remove the outer layer of skin. But unlike other remedies that scrape, peel and cut the surface of your skin, Fraxel laser treatments are ‘non-ablative.’ They have been approved by the FDA to safely and gently resurface your skin from the inside out. That means improved texture, more even tone and smoother skin. This can be done without the risks, discomfort and prolonged downtime of the ablative procedures.
Because this unique technology is so precise, Fraxel treatment can resurface skin on and off the face. It can even be used on delicate areas like the chest, neck and hands. In addition to wrinkles, scars, age spots and melasma, Fraxel treatment can help with these resurfacing conditions:
- Irregular texture
- Uneven skin tone
- Discoloration and pigment irregularities
- Sun induced redness (vascular dyschromia)
- Loose skin
- Enlarged pores
Fraxel, how does it work?
To understand how Fraxel works, you need to learn a little bit about lasers and a little bit about skin. Think of Fraxel as a device that delivers thousands of microscopic columns of light into the skin. The width and depth of penetration of the laser beam is controlled by the computer.
To best understand how lasers like Fraxel and Titan work, you need to understand how the skin layers look and function. The skin anatomy page really goes into the layers of the skin, but we will cover it quickly again here. 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. If this layer is stimulated with the Fraxel laser at the shallow depths, it creates these microscopic column injuries. The body’s natural healing processes are what allow the skin to repair and rejuvenate itself to a younger condition. 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.
Fraxel treatments, how are they performed?
There are a couple of steps. First, your skin will be cleansed. Then, about 60 minutes prior to treatment, a topical anesthetic ointment will be applied to the treatment area. The Fraxel re:store procedure takes 20 to 25 minutes for a full face.
The laser columns go below the skin surface and create microscopic zones of injury. These areas then heal over the next few days. This process reverses some of the aging damage that has occurred on the skin. As the new skin grows in, it is fresh, younger, smoother and healthier. So you can see how this makes the skin look better but it is not considered to be the best for treating a skin cancer. Skin cancers are typically treated by chemical treatments or surgical removal.
How many Fraxel treatments will need to be performed?
The basic Fraxel treatment plan is a series of five treatments, each 1 month apart. Clinical studies suggest that on average, an effective treatment regimen ranges from three to 5 sessions. These should be spaced about 2 to 4 weeks apart. Depending on your condition and schedule, you and Dr. Michael J. Brown, MD and his master medical aesthetician may choose to space treatment sessions further apart. Results are immediate and progressive; optimal improvement is usually visible in 2 to 3 months. This time frame and treatment structure allow for complete healing to occur; it allows for the production of new collagen and elastin to replace damaged tissue.
Fraxel, does it hurt? What are the side effects? How long will they last?
While the process is less intensive than other treatment options, there are still minor side effects. Most patients describe an increased sensation of heat during the treatment. To minimize any mild pain, a topical anesthesia is applied before the procedure. Cold air is used on the treatment area during the procedure. After the treatment, most patients feel like they have a sunburn; this usually goes away in 1 to 3 hours.
There are side effects after the treatment as well. Swelling and redness are the most common. You will wake up the next day and your face will be swollen. The degree of swelling depends on the intensity of the treatment and on your genetics. Any swelling is typically minimal and goes away within a day or two. During the first 24 hours after treatment, your skin may feel as though it is sunburned; it will appear to be pink or red in color. You can wear makeup to reduce the sunburned look. Any redness typically fades within a few days. Your skin will naturally bronze over the next week or two. As you continue treatment, the sunburned-to-bronzed appearance will repeat. As with a sunburn, your skin will flake and exfoliate normally. Use a moisturizer to reduce the look of the dry flakes. Your skin will feel rough for approximately 2 weeks as the old skin and columns of debris are exfoliated. Other short-term side effects may include minor itching and dry skin.
There is a very small risk of infection or scarring. The level and duration of side effects depend on how aggressive the treatment is and on your own healing characteristics. The office will provide specific instructions about what to expect and how to minimize any side effects.
The Fraxel pictures below show the before and after Fraxel treatment in the early phase.
You can see that her face has turned red and she is a bit swollen. The redness is well defined around her eyes, and her nose is swollen from the Fraxel treatment. You should be able to see though that she is still presentable and she is able to go out in public and return to work.
After Fraxel treatment, what precautions should be taken?
There are a few steps you should take after the treatment. When possible, avoid direct sun exposure for at least 3 months after your last treatment. Any time you are in the sun, wear a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Also wear a wide brimmed hat when you are in the sun.
Fraxel: How long will the effects of a treatment series last?
How long the effects last depends on your particular condition and how you care for your skin. Once your skin is treated, continue to protect it as described above. For conditions such as melasma, it is very important to avoid direct sun exposure. Dr. Michael J. Brown, MD, and his master aesthetician will give you specific advice based on your individual needs.
How much does Fraxel cost?
The cost depends on your condition and the areas to be treated. It ranges from $750 to $1,300 per treatment. Keep in mind that maximum benefit is usually achieved with an average of 3 to 5 treatment sessions that are spaced about 2 to 4 weeks apart.
Other facial laser treaments
Dr Brown also has the Titan laser, and there is the Genesis Skin Therapy – a comfortable laser treatment for sun damage, redness, large pores and uneven textures. IPL Therapy helps to eliminate broken capillaries, wrinkles, rosacea, spider veins and freckles. Laser Hair Removal, is provided at a reasonable and affordable price.
To help prevent wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes, wear sunscreen during the day and a high-quality cream at night. Wear sunglasses or a hat to minimize squinting in the sun. For more prevention tips, please visit the skin care techniques pages.