Day of Treatment:
For years now I have been lamenting about how badly I need a Fraxel laser treatment. (Yes, I realize need is subjective, but in my profession my skin truly does need to be flawless. How can I vouch for the efficiency and results of the laser skin care treatments I provide if my own skin looks a mess?)
I consider my face to be akin to the proverbial barefooted-children of the cobbler — because my time is always spent helping others, I rarely get a chance to do anything for my self. I finally picked the day and time, and scheduled my Fraxel treatment in pen.
Since so much time had elapsed since my last treatment I was (ironically) especially apprehensive about how it would feel…
After an hour with numbing cream on my face, some medication to help relax me, and Spotify loaded with my favorite songs, I was ready to go.
A. This is me before my Fraxel dual treatment. Overall my skin is relatively nice condition, but I have some sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles that I would like to get rid of.This picture shows the sun spots.
B. This picture shows the fine line and wrinkling:
During the treatment, you can see the immediate changes that occur in the color of the skin.
C. + D. In these pictures only the left-side of my face has been treated. You can see the color disparity along my chin, where the left-side is pinkish, and the right is still normal colored.
E. Many patients are afraid of what their skin will look like immediately after treatment. As you can tell here, there is a slight change, but nothing scary looking.
The Fraxel itself is not a pleasant experience, but it was over before I knew it.
F. Twenty minutes after it started, my treatment was all done and I found myself holding 2 bags of ice up against my hot face.
G. Tired from the medication, all I wanted to do was go to sleep, but my designated driver had a hankering to go Saks. My face felt warm and puffy, and was already slightly pink. Even though I felt self-conscious going out in public immediately after a treatment, anyone that did not know me would never know I just had an intense laser-treatment done. My face had a little swelling under my eyes right away, but aside from that I think I look relatively normal.
I made sure to drink lots of water all day, washed my face with a gentle cleanser, and probably applied moisturizer 3x before I went to bed. My face felt warm, not hot, so despite my advice to my patients I actually did not keep ice on my face for any length of time following the treatment.
Day after treatment:
H. When I woke up, my face was pinker, slightly swollen, and tight feeling. (The indents on my nose are from the reading glasses I took off for the pictures.)
Again though, if you did not know me, I do not think anyone would know that anything was different with my face. My face felt warm to the touch, and very sensitive. (Almost anything that brushes against my skin feels too rough.)
I. To help cool and soothe my face I used a SkinCeuticals BioCellulose Restorative Masque. (My daughter kindly snapped this photo of while I was sleeping. Scary looking, yet so refreshing.) Instantly cooling, I kept this on my face for 2+ hours instead of the recommended 15-20 minutes, and it felt DELICIOUS. (It seemed to stay moist much longer than the recommended 15-minutes, and did not think it could be harmful.)
I had a full day of patients scheduled, but I actually found the condition of my face to be helpful when explaining Fraxel with new patients. I would explain that I just had a Fraxel treatment yesterday, and my face is what “downtime” looks like. It helps make the unknown a little less scary if they can get a better idea of what to expect with their own skin.
Still making sure to drink lots of fluids, applying lots of moisturizer, and being religious about sunscreen. I cannot allow my super-sensitive skin to be negatively affected by that ultimate skin-pest… the sun!
Day 2 after treatment:
J. I accidentally fell asleep lying flat (as opposed to elevated, like I KNOW I am supposed to), so when I woke-up my under-eye area was so puffy it was actually affecting my line of vision. (Such a weird feeling!) My skin felt very dry and tight, and I couldn’t seem to moisturize it enough. I was using Sente Dermal Repair Cream underneath my moisturizer, and it did seem to help keep my skin more hydrated than a moisturizer alone. Because of the extra movement that occurs around the mouth area (what with talking and facial expressions), my “muzzle” feels especially dry, to the point where it feels like it could crack.
L. The criss-cross pattern of the laser can be seen if you look at my skin up close, and I can tell that the flaking/peeling is going to start shortly. (This grid pattern can be seen most clearly along my jaw.)
Unless you are studying my face up close, I think that I can still pass for normal. My face looks pink (K.) and is definitely swollen, but I would feel comfortable walking down the street and going out in public. I doubt anybody would notice anything funny about the way I look.
Even though I know what to expect and the results more than justify it, I am anxious for this healing period to be over so I can see my improved skin!
Incidentally, a patient came in today for her first Fraxel treatment and was extremely nervous about what to expect with her treatment. It was great to be able to reassure her with my face.
Day 3 After Fraxel Treatment*
*I apologize in advance for the quality of these pictures (both days 3 &4), this was over the course of the weekend and I had to take my own selfies.
M., N., O. As you can see, my face is still swollen, and still very pink.
The texture feels rough, and it feels like my skin is beginning to peel.
Although tempting, I am constantly reminding myself NOT to try and manually exfoliate or pick at anything in order to allow the natural healing process to occur.
I am still wallowing in moisturizer and sunscreen.
Day 4 After Fraxel Treatment*
Ahhh, the peeling. (It is nice that it is a Sunday so that I do not have to be anywhere during the worst of the Fraxel after-math.)
P. I am still applying moisturizer like a fiend, so I can tell that my skin is in fact peeling, but because there is so much moisturizer involved, it is not like it is peeling off in big strips. (This peeling is nothing like a sunburn.)
As is typical with Fraxel, the peeling begins at the center of the face, and works its way outwards. (Q., R. The patches that are showing up dark colored are the areas of super-dry skin that are sloughing themselves off.)
Day 5 After treatment:
Today my skin looks and feels much better. (Yesterday was clearly a turning point.)
S. A lot of the little brown spots are gone, but the perimeter of my face still has some. (T. Check out my hair line!) I fully expect the majority of these to disappear as my skin continues to flake and heal though.
U. The area around my mouth remains especially dry and flaky. My face still feels very itchy, but much less so than the last 2-days. (Yesterday I thought nothing less than a rake could satisfy the itchiness I was feeling.) It is only early afternoon at this point, and I have already applied moisturizer 5x. It seems to really calm the tight and itchy feeling for a while.
My eyes are finally less swollen, and they do not feel so uncomfortable anymore. This morning I was able to wash my face very comfortably. I am still quite pink, particularly along the lower part of my face. (Check out the disparity on my jaw line between the treated and non-treated areas!)
I am starting to see some of the beginning changes this treatment has made to my skin, and in the areas where the brown spots are gone, the skin looks and feels perfectly smooth. This really has been a great learning experience though, because even though I am constantly describing what to expect with this treatment, having one again myself totally refreshed my memory of what each step of recovery is like.
Day 6 after treatment:
It has now been a full week since I have had my treatment, and every day the healing process presents something new.
Y. Today my face looks bronzed instead of pink. (My office-manager noted that I look more like I just got back from Bermuda versus recovering from a powerful laser treatment.)
My skin still feels a little tight, but most of the itching has stopped.
Z. The skin around my mouth remains the driest feeling, and there is still some flaking occurring in that area.
A1. There are a very few of the little dark spots left, and the remaining spots seem to be mostly along the perimeter of my face. (This is most noticeable along my hairline.)
B1., C1. Although my skin has not returned to my natural color (as seen along my jaw), the swelling is all gone, and I feel very comfortable with my appearance.
As the healing continues, I am enjoying more and more my newly smooth skin. I am going to a 3-day conference tomorrow, and I am not worried at all about the condition of my skin. (Worst-case scenario, since my texture is completely smooth now, I can easily camouflage any discoloration with makeup.)
Two Weeks After Fraxel Treatment
It has now been two full weeks since I had my Fraxel 1550 treatment, and every single day my face feels better and better.
F1. Although my face is still slightly pink, all of the peeling has passed, and the dry feeling has subsided. I apply a lot of moisturizer in the morning, and by dinner my skin feels dry and itchy again.
Already I can see that a lot of my sun spots have disappeared, most notably seen along my hairline and on my cheeks. (D1, E1)
My skin texture does not yet feel smooth to the touch, however I think it looks pretty flawless and I am very happy how clear my skin tone is. (G1) (Although my sun spots disappeared, my birthmark over my eyebrow still looks the same.)
H1. Here is a picture of where my chin meets my neck, just to show the remaining differences in my skin color. While there is still some color difference, I no longer need to wear foundation to cover up the odd red/brown color I turned.
A Month After Treatment
J1. A full month has now passed, and this is a great example of how easy it is to get spoiled by a good thing.
Although I am still a tiny bit pink (unusual to still be pink this long after treatment, but not unusual for me. Because I am so fair, my skin usually takes longer than usual to return to my natural color) my overall skin texture has been greatly improved.
K1., L1. My face feels ultra-smooth, and the brown spots I wanted to get rid of either did disappear as my skin healed, or have significantly lightenend from treatment. I know though, that I can get even better results from another treatment, and it is already on the schedule. (Any side-effects from Fraxel treatments are not bothersome enough to outweigh the overall good that they do.)
Two Months After Fraxel Treatment
M1., N1, O1. Voila! Looking at these pictures, I am reminded of why I love Fraxel treatments so much. The process isn’t necessarily fun, but consistently beautiful results are always delivered. My skin is much smoother, the unwanted brown spots are gone, and I feel like the skin’s texture has been refined to the point that the fine line/wrinkling that was occurring has been smoothed away.