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Skin Care Review: Fraxel laser treatment

by Tamara Smith

Adverse Effects

Initially causes minimal lightening and gave a healthy glow

Made hyperpigmentation more pronounced.

I have undergone three fraxel laser treatments on the whole face, the first in October 2013, the second in November and the last one at the start of January 2014.I am mixed race and have light olive skin. For the last few years I have had melasma on my cheeks and forehead. I also have dark discolouration above my lip that appeared after using hair removal cream.

The experience was very much as described by others online: A topical anaethetic cream was applied for an hour followed by fraxel treatment lasting about 10 minutes. A slight tingling was felt during the treatment. And once the treatment was completed my face felt sunburned - burning hot for about half a day and bright red for about two days. My eyes were swollen after the first night, reduced by sleeping slightly upright. The redness reduced to be followed by dryness and microscopic black dots, covering the whole face, for about three days. After three days I felt confident about returning to work, where colleagues said I looked like I had a healthy glow. I didnít experience any peeling.Because I was nervous about causing more not less damage, despite being one of the most expensive clinics I chose to undergo treatment at a clinic run by an internationally reputable dematologist, the Cranley Clinic in London.

Unfortunately, the treatments have not worked; infact the areas of hyperpigmentation appear slightly worse. Both cheeks used to have small light brown patches; after the second treatment these appeared about 70% lighter. After two treatments, there was a very slight lightening of dark areas on the forehead and upper lip. However, after expressing concern about the lack of progress, on returning for my third treatment session I was prescribed Pigmanorm cream. I had used Pigmanorm previously when it was prescribed by a dermatologist at the Royal Free Hospital. On that occasion after two weeks the skin around each eye became inflamed, cracked and infected; I stopped using the cream and my eyes look several weeks to heal. I put the problem down to the cream rubbing off onto the pillowcase while I was sleeping, something difficult to avoid because the cream has to be applied at night. This time after using Pigmanorm my cheeks immediately became flushed and hyperpigmented, and have remained so almost two months later. After three days to prevent further reddening and prevent breakdown of skin around my eyes I stopped using the Pigmanorm on my cheeks but continued to use it for two months on my forehead and upper lip but there has been no improvement; infact the hyperpigmentation on these areas appears more patchy and dark. The initial consultation cost £200; at that point I was prescribed Lustra lightening cream which cost approximately £48. As advised, the Lustra cream was use for two months prior to undergoing the first treatment and in between treatments. It did not have any obvious lightening effect.The three fraxel laser treatments, taken approximately 6 weeks apart, then cost £875 each, inclusive of a 10% discount. The Pigmanorm prescribe after the second session cost a further £48. So treatment has so far cost approximately £3000. In comparison, a work colleague went to the London Laser Clinic and paid a fraction of the cost, about £1300 for a package of three sessions; she has Mediterranean olive skin and says her pigmentation is about 70% better so paying more does not necessarily mean there will be a better outcome. She still feels she has to wear concealer and her main concern is that the effects will be reversed once spring-summer arrives.

After expressing concern about a lack of progress, particularly on my upper lip, when undergoing my third treatment I was reviewed by the dermatologist and it was recommended that Pigmanorm be used followed by two further fraxel treatments and a further consultation, which would have cost another £1900. Apparently surprised by the disappointing progress, I was asked if I had definitely been keeping out of the sun and using sun creams regularly; I said I had definitely been doing both. Photographs were taken of my face prior at the clinic to the first and second treatment but not before the third. No reference was made back to those initial photos during my visits and no indication given as to whether any progress was being made below the skin surface. I have decided not to go any further, convinced that if this treatment is going to be effective for me there would have been some visible progress at this point. Also, the fact that a further consultation was recommended after completion of another two fraxel treatments also gave me the impression that the dermatologist was not confident that the further treatments were going to be successful. I havenít written this to put anyone off because each individual will react differently and this treatment may be more successful for others than it has for me. But most of the reviews found online when I was deciding whether to go ahead only described the results after one session; the clinic recommends 3 to 4 are required for the treatment to work.

Iím not sorry I went ahead. I will recover financially given time and I had to go through this process otherwise I would always have be wondering whether fraxel laser treatment was the miracle cure I was looking for. For me there is no miracle cure and somehow I feel more content knowing this. Having been lucky enough not to have had to wear make up when I was younger, I just have to learn to be comfortable in my own skin and learn to apply make-up with a bit more expertise than I do at the moment! I hope this account of my experience will help others make a more informed decision as to whether to go ahead.

Give it a try if money is no object.

Price (paid by reviewer)

Where to find it
The Cranley Clinic, London


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