Understanding Fraxel Laser Skin Rejuvenation

Dr Marianne Nolan|Skin rejuvenation
29 May 2018

In recent blogs, we’ve been talking a lot about the different levels of skin rejuvenation, from the very gentle (read that blog here) to the moderate and tailored (read that blog here).

In this blog, we’re explaining the technology behind one of our most comprehensive skin rejuvenation options – The Fraxel Laser.

Fraxel lasers, or more correctly, fractionated lasers, are used to treat aging, sun damaged or acne scarred skin, along with other scars.

At our clinic we have two types of fractionated lasers – the Fraxel Dual and the Fraxel Repair.

How Fractionated Lasers Work

Fractionated lasers create thousands of microscopic holes in the skin. These holes pass through the superficial layers of the skin, known as the epidermis, and into the deeper layer of the skin called the dermis.

Doing this creates what we call “controlled trauma”. It sounds scary but it’s actually a clever way of tricking the skin into rejuvenating itself.

The skin experiences these microscopic holes as “trauma” and sets in motion the body’s healing mechanism, stimulating cells called fibroblasts to produce new collagen, which is the magic ingredient that improves the texture and appearance of the skin.

Different Types of Fractionated Laser

Fraxel lasers work on three different wavelengths (which affect how deeply they penetrate into the skin:

  • 1550nm
  • 1927nm
  • 10600nm

The first two of these are used to stimulate collagen production to achieve smoother skin and helping to fade down pigmentation on the skin surface. Usually 3-5 treatments are recommended with lasers operating at these wavelengths, spaced two to four weeks apart.

The third of these three wavelengths is known as a fractional ablative laser. This means that it works by ablating or removing small amounts of skin as well as stimulating the production of new collagen, causing skin to become both smoother and tighter. The Fraxel Repair laser operates to this frequency and is often our recommendation for skin with significant scarring or skin that is more mature, sun damaged and maintaining significant wrinkling. Usually 1-2 treatments are performed with this laser, spaced about three to six months apart.

The Fraxel Repair laser is also a more invasive treatment, being hotter and deeper reaching. Therefore recovery times after a treatment with this laser are longer than its smaller nanometer wavelength cousin, the Fraxel Dual.

Who is Best Suited to Fraxel Laser Treatment?

The best indications for Fraxel laser are people with crepy, sun damaged or scarred skin. The most commonly treated areas of the body are the face, neck, decolletage and hands, but Fraxel laser can be used on scars anywhere on the body.

Fraxel may be right for anyone who would like to improve the texture of their skin and who have sufficient time to lie low while they heal (which may be up to a week).

Unlike many lasers, Fraxel laser can be used on people with all skin types, including those with darker skin who are usually unsuitable for laser resurfacing.

It’s important to note that smokers will not respond as well to Fraxel laser treatment due to reduced blood supply to the skin caused by tobacco use.

After treatment, it is paramount that patients wear high SPF sunscreen every day because unprotected exposure to UV light will reduce the amount of collagen that is produced by the fibroblasts.

People who have a history of melasma will need to be especially careful with diligent use of daily sunscreen after Fraxel treatment and may also need to use a bleaching cream to minimise the risk of flaring their melasma.

People should also avoid fake tan on the area they wish to treat, for two weeks prior to Fraxel treatment.

Fraxel lasers have revolutionised the ability to improve skin texture without having to endure the prolonged downtime associated with older resurfacing techniques.

To find out whether Fraxel is right for you, call our friendly receptionists and make an appointment today.


Written by Dr Marianne Nolan.
Dr Nolan has worked at our clinic for 20 years and is an expert in anti-aging treatments.