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Everything You Need to Know About Fractional Laser Treatments

Have you looked in the mirror lately and thought that your skin looked a little dull, or you noticed some new wrinkles popping up? You’re not alone. The anti-aging industry rakes in billions of dollars per year, thanks to millions of men and women who are clamoring for the latest and greatest treatments to get their skin looking younger, softer, and smoother. If you’re one of the masses, you’ve probably tried countless creams, serums, and lotions to help combat these skin issues and reverse them.

But over the counter medications can only do so much. If you’re fighting hard against Father Time’s effects on your face, you may have begun to consider more advanced treatment methods, like lasers, peels, and even full-on surgery.

One such method that is gaining in popularity as more and more people experience how effective it can be is fractional laser treatment. Often called “Fractal” or Fraxel” treatments, these non-invasive treatments are used to help fight back against aging, acne, and other skin concerns. If you’re interested in possibly trying out this advanced skincare procedure, read on for everything you should know before you try it.

How do Fractal Treatments Work?

Fractional laser treatments, according to The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, are used to resurface the skin. A fractional laser delivers targeted, precise tiny beams of light deep into the lower layers of the dermis, creating narrow, yet deep columns of coagulated tissue. While this sounds like it would damage the skin, in fact, these small sections of coagulated tissue stimulate your skin’s natural healing process. The end result? Healthy new tissue is encouraged and begins to grow quickly.

Because the laser is treating a small area of the skin or a fraction of the area, the procedure is referred to as “fractional.” While many other procedures are not able to zero in on one specific area so closely, these microbeams of laser light are designed specifically to treat a small area.

Who is a Candidate for Fractional Laser Treatments?

Fractal treatments are a great choice for anyone between the ages of 25 and 60, who is looking for an improvement in the texture of their skin. Some of the many reasons people utilize this powerful yet minimally invasive method is to:

  • Reduce the appearance and smooth out acne scars of all types—boxcar, icepick, hyperpigmentation, and post-acne)
  • Smooth and soften fine lines
  • Lighten brown sunspots and age spots
  • Speed up the healing and appearance of scars from trauma, like injury, surgical scars, or even burns
  • Reduce the prominence of stretch marks
  • Even out skin tone

People with darker skin tones may want to avoid fractal laser treatments or opt for fewer treatments overall. This is because sometimes pigmentation issues can occur, leading to an uneven skin tone.

With so many things addressed, you might think that these treatments would lead to a lot of downtimes. Fortunately, because the Fractal Laser is only used in a small area and does not damage surrounding tissues, healing is much faster than with more invasive methods. However, this does depend on the type of equipment used by the technician or plastic surgeon, as some lasers are stronger than others.

For most people, there is little to no downtime after the procedure. Many reports that they can go back to their regular daily activities immediately after finishing. Discomfort during the procedure is also usually pretty mild, ensuring that you aren’t in pain the entire time you’re freshening up and rejuvenating your skin.

How Soon Can Results Be Seen?

As with many types of procedures involving the skin, there may be some immediate results, but the lasting results will go into effect over time. The skin needs time to heal and regenerate before you can see the resulting new, healthier tissue. Many practitioners recommend a series of treatments, usually done over a one-to-four-week period, in order to maximize results.

It’s important to remember that no type of treatment is going to clear up all of your skin issues. It’s important to go into the treatment with an open mind and ensure that your expectations are realistic. As Healthline explains, there are various types of fractal lasers, with some being stronger than others. With a deeper, more powerful laser, you’ll probably have longer healing times, but more pronounced results.

How to Choose a Professional?

Sure, you could probably find someone, somewhere in the dark recesses of the Internet who will offer you a fractal laser treatment at bargain-basement prices, but remember that you get what you pay for. A board-certified plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or licensed esthetician is the only way to go with laser treatments. Avoid any sort of specials or coupons that you might find offered by companies that are looking to capitalize on the cost of these treatments, but are offering a sub-par product.

Ask to see before and after photos of those who have gone to the professional you are interested in going to. You’ll be able to see realistic results, as well as the quality of work. Whatever you do, make sure that the business and technician you go to are both licensed. Never let someone work on you who do not have a license to use the laser.

Where on the Body Can This Procedure Be Performed?

Fractal treatments are typically used on the face, neck, chest, hands,and arms. These areas of the body are usually more prone to sun damage, acne scarring, skin discoloration, fine lines, and wrinkles. This skin is often thinner and more delicate as well, which in turn makes the areas more prone to various types of damage and trauma over the years. For those with heavy acne scarring, facial treatments can be life-changing, especially as compared to other treatments available. Plus, fractal lasers are excellent for use on your hands, where sun and age spots can really start to get out of control.

The skin on the neck and chest is also very prone to heavy-duty effects from the sun. As people age, these areas are some of the most prominent for the signs. Not a lot can be done, except a procedure like fractal laser treatments.

How Much Does it Cost?

So, you’re probably thinking all of this sounds great, but what’s the damage going to be to your bank account? It can really vary widely depending on where you go, how many treatments you get, and how many different areas you are targeted. Expect to spend anywhere from about $500 to $5,000, according to Health Line.

What are the Side Effects?

Besides less money in your wallet, there are a few side effects to be aware of when you are interested in fractal laser treatments. Some of the most common side effects include:

  • A localized pain in the area that was treated
  • Redness
  • Scarring
  • Peeling

While you probably won’t spend a lot of time healing, it is important to note that these non-surgical methods do come with the above side effects and that your personal healing rate and health can affect how prominent they are.

While the laser treatments are advertised often as a “lunchtime procedure,” we don’t recommend scheduling an important meeting or a first date in the hours afterward. In fact, if you want to give your skin a fighting chance, it might be best to hold off on cosmetics for a few days. This allows your skin to heal faster and bounce back quicker. It’s important to note that we are talking about non-ablative lasers here. If ablative lasers are used, there could be 2 to 3 weeks of healing ahead of you.

According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, the skin will be raw and red as it heals from the ablative laser treatments for the entire few weeks post-treatment. You’ll want to avoid intensive exercise or excessive sweating, as this could lead to a painful and unsightly infection. You’ll also want to ensure that you are caring for your skin gently. Always check with your technician or doctor to find out what their healing tips are and follow them to the letter.

Are The Results Worth It?

That’s a tough question, and definitely one that really depends on the individual. For one thing, your results may vary from another person’s, so it might be worth it to them but not to you. You might also find that for you, the healing process
is longer than you thought.

Fractal treatments are popular for a reason, though, and many people go back again and again. These lasers wouldn’t be so highly sought-after if people weren’t seeing results. So, it’s a pretty strong possibility, based on these factors, that you will find your results absolutely worth it.

Are there any alternative treatment methods?

In a world full of people doing absolutely everything they can to combat aging and love the skin they are in, as well as a mass of others who are trying to capitalize on these desires, there are several alternatives out there. Whether you’re looking for standard drug store treatments or other types of lasers and peels, there are many out there to compare to Fractal. Some of the other options out there include:

  • Microdermabrasion – This is a method often done at medical spas and dermatologist offices. With microdermabrasion, the top layers of the skin are exfoliated away, or planed, usually with tiny crystals or other similar materials. Moderate acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, dullness, and fine lines are often improved with this method. It is, however, much gentler than a fractal laser, and thus not as effective.
  • Chemical peels – This is when a chemical is used to damage the top layers of the skin so that they peel away to reveal younger, healthier-looking skin beneath. They are minimally invasive, but they do cause the skin to peel away heavily, which can lead to a lot of downtime and embarrassment as you wait for all the skin to shed.
  • Micro-needling – This is when tiny needles are used to create small tears in the top layer of the skin, which causes the skin to produce more collagen as it heals stronger. It also allows for deeper penetration of beauty products, helping them to be more effective as they sink further into the layers of skin. This method has less downtime than chemical peels.
  • Prescription topical skin treatments – Products on the market to fight aging, scarring, discoloration, and more are so much better than they used to be. The newest wave of products uses advanced ingredients like glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid and retinol to help reveal smoother, clearer and softer skin like never before. Though not as effective as any of the above methods, topical treatments are more affordable and accessible, with no downtime. There are also many great products with these important ingredients that can be purchased over the counter, too. Gone are the days when skincare products were expensive and largely ineffective.

As you can see, there are a lot of options out there other than fractal laser
resurfacing treatments. But, not all of them are created equal, and there’s a
reason that fractal has become such a phenomenon—because it works!

Other Considerations

If you’re still on the fence about trying out this type of laser, but you’re
interested in the results, talk to your dermatologist. They know your skin
better than anyone else, and they can help advise you as to what methods are
the best for you. Maybe your scarring or age spots aren’t very deep or
prominent, and so less invasive and expensive methods might be a better choice. Or, maybe they’ll discuss what great results you can achieve with fractal
lasers. Regardless, discuss your options with a professional to determine
the best course of action for your unique skin.

Be proud of every inch of your skin when you get rid of unsightly blemishes, scars, hyper-pigmentation, and more with fractal laser treatments. 

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