This morning, I had my second Fraxel Treatment with Dr. Gervaise Gerstner, a board certified dermatologist with offices in Manhattan (3 East 69th Street). If you didn’t read my first couple of posts on Fraxel, you can find a description of what Fraxel is, and what it does, by clicking here. And, if you’re wondering what it feels like, you can read about my personal experience with my first Fraxel Treatment, by clicking here.
In brief, technology has helped us to lead easier, more productive lives in so many ways, but one of the benefits of technology is that some of the high tech wonders developed for various uses, can also help us look better. The Fraxel Laser fits that category!
There are a variety of different types of lasers that can be used to improve various parts of our bodies, but the Fraxel laser can literally resurface skin and make it look smoother and more toned. The treatment is called “fractional” because only a small part of the skin is treated, leaving the remainder of the skin to speed the healing process. The laser is cleared for skin resurfacing by the FDA for a number of dermatological procedures such as the removal of reduction of acne scars, sun/age spots, wrinkles around the eyes and mouth, melasma, and off-face skin resurfacing such as hands and chest.
Although I try different potions and skincare treatments all the time, I admit that I was as anxious, as eager, to try a Fraxel treatment. This laser treatment is serious business, and you want it to do lots more good than potential harm. Therefore, there are three things that I feel are essential to consider, as you are deciding whether or not to have a treatment like Fraxel:
#1: Choose the right doctor: It is an absolute must to have these types of treatments done by a qualified doctor who has experience with that particular laser. You are, after all, trusting him or her with your precious skin. As as a consumer of a serious medical treatment (even if it is also a beautifying treatment), it is your responsibility to research the doctor that you have selected to administer these treatments You need to know not just about the doctor’s qualifications as a medical professional, but also how much experience s/he has with the laser treatment you have chosen. In my case, I am extremely lucky to have Dr. Gerstner as my doctor. She is super-highly qualified both as a physician, and with the Fraxel and other treatments. She is also gorgeous, and truly nice to work with.
#2: You get what you pay for: a bargain is not always good: When I did some research to find out about other people’s experiences with laser treatments like Fraxel, I quickly began to see a distinct pattern. Those who were disappointed with the results or worse, had damage from laser treatments, were often getting discounted treatments from people who were marginally, or not at all qualified or experienced, to administer such treatments. You don’t always get what you pay for in life, but you always pay for what you get. You can’t cut corners when it comes to your health and your skin. Be very wary of “free” or discounted treatments, especially if they are being offfered outside of a dermatologist’s office. Fraxel treatment can range between $750 and $1250 depending upon where you are in the United States, and of course, your doctor’s fees. Dr. Gerstner, for example, said today that she thought I’d need five treatments, so you can do the math! Depending upon your goals and skin condition, the average cost in the USA for a full face treatment is approx. $2, 287. The cost can be much higher than that. Fraxel may not be for the frugal, but if you want it, save up and go somewhere safe.
#3: Educate yourself, and be realistic: You will be most satisfied if you understand what the treatment does, how it works, and you keep your expectations realistic. One treatment may give you some nearly immediate results as mine did. But if you have longer term goals in mind, and/or if your skin is really in bad shape, the amount of time it will take, and how much of an improvement you can expect, will differ from person to person. There is nothing in the world that will make a 60-year old face look 20. But, Fraxel can make an impressive difference in the tone and quality of your skin.
All this being said, I was prepared for my second treatment * you can read all about that in my first post about the Fraxel Laser. I got to the office an hour before the treatment, as it takes an hour for the numbing cream that is applied to your face, to take effect. Dr. Gerstner’s super-nice assistant, Joanna, asked if I wanted a pain killer as well. In all honesty, I have a low threshold for pain, and the first time I was uncomfortable at times during the treatment. I knew this time the strength of the laser was going to be increased a bit, so I readily accepted the Percocet Joanna gave me. Percocet is an FDA-approved drug that is Endo Pharmaceutical’s brand name for an oxycodone/acetaminophen blend tablets. The pill is a narcotic pain reliever used to treat moderate to severe acute (short-term) pain.
An hour passed quickly and then Dr. Gerstner entered the room and quickly administered my second treatment. Joanna was also there, applying a cold pack to my skin from time to time to keep the procedure, comfortable. While there were a few moments when the laser felt uncomfortable, it was over before I knew it. Joanna put an ice pack on my face for a short while, gave me some samples of moisturizer and SPF to take home, and I was on my way.
The first time my skin really like I had a bad sunburn, and that lasted for about a day, but this time I didn’t notice it after about half an hour. My face looks a little red and swollen, but not all that much. Maybe I was just better prepared for the potential side effects this time, but as of now (and it’s 4:08–I had the treatment at 11:15), I hardly feel anything other than a bit of tightness. My skin also feels a little rough, but that is because the Fraxel 1550 laser used on my skin to remove sun damage, utilizes a scanning device to apply highly concentrated, tiny laser pulses that create microscopic “wounds” all over the areas Dr. Gerstner treated on my face. These little cuts are the places through which new skin will form. I will be waiting until after Fashion Week is over (in mid September) before Dr. Gerstener does another treatment. Next time, she is going to work on brown spots. But since it is still Summer, she wants to wait and be sure I’m not going to be out in the sun (new brown spots will form from sun exposure).
While I have to caution that my experience with this treatment, or any treatment, may not be the same as yours, I can only say that from my perspective, Fraxel is fabulous. Although my treatment are is being provided — my skin is still my skin. If the treatment didn’t work well, or I didn’t think it was satisfying, I would say so. I do not need to be prompted to say that Fraxel has already impressed me–wowed me, actually. After just one treatment, I can see a significant and visible difference in the tone, color and texture of my skin. My crows feet diminished and even my husband noticed. In fact, he agreed that it was magical. Dr. Gerstner told me today that you can really see a significant improvement between the second and third treatments, but I already am wowed by what I see. I can’t wait to see what happens after this treatment, too. I will report to you with more before and after photos, of course!