While there are many things you can do to preserve your youthful appearance, limiting exposure to sunlight is one of the best.
I unfortunately basked in the glorious sun for most of my life. As my 40th birthday approached, my Dermatologist, the incomparable Dr. Michele Green, broke the news to me- “Honey, your days as a bathing beauty are over”.
I now meticulously wear a hat and a cover-up whenever possible at the pool or beach. However believe it or not, you might still expose yourself to a few unwanted rays while out for a run, at the beach, or just being outside on a warm sunny day. To reverse any dark spots from the sun, Dr. Green treats me with a Fraxel laser once a year. Read more about Fraxel below in my Q&A with Dr. Green.
FO40: Dr. Green, What is Fraxel?
Dr. Green: Fraxel Laser utilizes what’s called Fractional Technology, meaning it only treats a fraction of the skin at a given time. Unlike older CO2 lasers- which would essentially wipe out your entire skin and leave you red for six to eight weeks- the Fraxel Laser leaves you sort of pink, almost like a sunburn, for only one or two days. After this, the skin will peel over three to four days- leaving you refreshed and beautiful. All the pigmentation essentially peels off within a week and you have new, younger, healthy looking skin.
Fraxel is an amazing laser because with a single treatment I can erase all the sun-damage that you’ve had for years. I know it’s a great laser because it’s the only laser that I’ve used on my female patients where their husbands have come in wanting to do the same procedure. I think Fraxel appeals to men because it’s a very easy procedure, it’s only one treatment, and it’s pain-free. It has largely replaced traditional peels. Where I used to perform six to eight peels on a patient- now I get better results from just a single Fraxel procedure.
FO40: Who is the best candidate for Fraxel?
DG: Someone who is fair skinned, has a lot of sun damage, fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, deeper wrinkles, or just needs overall resurfacing of their skin. It’s an overall anti-aging laser. I’ve had young patients come in with a lot of sun damage and have spectacular results. Fraxel can be used on a wide range of patients age-wise. The common thread is that there’s sun-induced damage, not so much the age of the patient.
FO40: There are two different Fraxel Lasers. Can you discuss each?
DG: Technically there is only one laser- but with two settings, 1927 and 1550. The 1927 is the more cosmetic of the two. It gets rid of surface irregularities like pigmentation, sun damage, actin, and keratosis (which is pre-cancerous). The 1550 setting goes a little deeper and gets rid of fine lines, wrinkles and acne scars. If a patient has smokers lines or deep acne scars, they would use the more “resurfacing” setting (1550). The 1927 is ideal for pigmentation and fine lines, while the 1550 is for deeper scars and wrinkles. It treats patients differently. Think of it as two lasers in one.
FO40: Describe the actual Fraxel treatment.
DG: A patient would come to the office an hour before the scheduled appointment. We want a full hour for numbing. We then take the numbing medicine off in the exam room and place small shields over your eyes for protection. I treat the face in sections, going over each area of the face: the forehead, cheeks, chin, nose, and upper lip. Each section requires eight passes at a time. The procedure takes only ten-fifteen minutes.
The Fraxel Laser actually comes adapted with a cooling mechanism called a “Zimmer.” The Zimmer blows cold air on your skin simultaneous to the treatment. So while I’m treating you with the Fraxel Laser, the Zimmer is blowing cold air to cool your skin so you don’t feel the heat of the laser at all. We then leave you with some cold compresses for a few minutes. We instruct you to go home and put cold compresses on for 1-2 hours and also to stay out of the sun. I give every patient a prescription moisturizer to use for a week afterwards.
FO40: What is the downtime?
DG: The downtime for each is just a few days. For the 1927 (sun damage, fine lines) its 5 days and for the 1550 (deeper wrinkles) its two days. That’s what makes it so great.
FO40: What kind of Results can one expect and how long do they last?
DG: Within five to seven days, your skin is remarkable. It’s younger looking, refreshed from all the sun-damage, and the pigmentation is gone. The Fraxel is simply a remarkable laser. For the 1927 setting, results last as long as you don’t get new sun damage. For those that do get new sun damage, I recommend repeating the procedure yearly. With the 1550 setting, the results are permanent. You do 5 treatments and voila- done.
Overall, the results have been spectacular. I always say I wish I invented this laser! Fraxel has been a game changer, and I love the results it gives my patients.
For more on my amazing Dermatologist, go to www.drmichelegreenmd.com Tell her this ex-sun lover sent you!