What is Fraxel?
No, it’s not another nickname for a celebrity couple Freda and Axel. Fraxel is a term denoting a relatively new approach to treat skin concerns of various kinds. In this article, we are going to discuss how the technology works, what effect it produces, and whether it is more effective than other similar technologies used in aesthetic dermatology.
How does it work?
Fraxel is a contracted form of fractional photothermolysis. The primary use of the technology is resurfacing, including elimination of scars, hyperpigmented areas, and wrinkles. The range of conditions treated with the help of Fraxel covers acne scarring, photoaging, dyschromia, residual hemangioma, etc.
The first Fraxel device appeared in 2004. It was aimed at outperforming the technologies available at that time and reducing patient downtime, as well as eliminating as many adverse effects as possible. Nowadays there are two kinds of Fraxel: ablative and nonablative. The former was introduced in 2007 and enables to achieve better results in terms of textural abnormalities and skin laxity.
Now that we have confused you with all these scientific terms, it’s time to explain how it works in plain words.
Fraxel uses a laser that inflicts tiny wounds in the water-containing tissue in the skin. The columns of damaged tissue are repopulated by untouched tissue. It can be applied to different skin layers, with deepest penetration enabling one to eliminate hyperpigmentation spots.
Why is it a good option?
Fraxel is considered to be an improved version of standard ablative laser resurfacing, because it leaves significant areas of skin untouched, which means patient downtime is reduced. However, such an approach also implies several sessions, as you can treat only a small area in one session. It is normal to have your skin flaking and turning red afterwards: these side effects usually resolve within a couple of days. That is why it is recommended that a patient does it before a weekend or when they have time to recover at home.
It is reported that Fraxel’s results seem to be superior to those of other laser machines based on the nonablative technology. It appears to be especially effective at treating scars. A wide range of clinical examples are available, which prove skin resurfacing can be used for such purposes.
Is it painful?
Some patients report they felt pain, but it was quite bearable. Before using the machine, a doctor usually applies a special gel to reduce pain. You are likely to feel burning afterwards, and one should be careful not to expose the affected skin areas to anything that can lead to contamination with germs. Affected skin is vulnerable, and it gets easier for viruses and bacteria to get into it – including herpes virus! – so try not to stay outdoors after you have been treated with Fraxel. You may also be advised to use panthenol to soothe your skin and stimulate regeneration. As a result, you can improve your skin condition and get rid of hyperpigmented spots and some scars. Some also find it effective at treatment of atrophic linear scars appearing during pregnancy.
However, one should be careful when deciding to use the technology. Some centers use equipment that is not original; safety and effectiveness of such pseudofraxel or Fraxel-like equipment are questionable. Always ask for documentation that proves all the materials and equipment used are obtained from an authorized manufacturer.
Besides, it takes qualified personnel to operate such machines, because improper use can result in scar formation and other adverse effects.
Review of Fractional Photothermolysis: Treatment Indications and Efficacy – Journals.lww.com
Update on Fractional Laser Technology – Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Fraxel Laser Indications and Long-Term Follow-Up – Researchgate.net
Fractional Laser Photothermolysis: The Best of Both Worlds? – Medscape.com