A few days ago, I just got my first Fractional Laser acne scar treatment. As a female in my 20's, I have had cystic acne since I was a teen. I had tried every thing known and unknown to man to get rid of my acne. Eventually, 3 cycles of Accutane for 3 years did the trick and shrank my acne scars as well. Five years after Accutane, I decided to remove my acne scars more "permanently" (if that is even possible).
My first treatment involved a numbing cream for approximately 30 minutes and and then 30-40 minutes of the actual laser being run over my face several times. Although most people will tell you that it feels like needles pricking your skin or an elastic band snapping your face, I found it to be extremely painful. It felt like someone stabbing my face with a scaple. I did cry and groan in pain in front of the doctor and the assistant. Mind you I don't have a high tolerance for pain.
My dermatologist adjusted the machine depending on the severity of the scars being treated and also took into consideration my natural olive/tanned skin tone.
7/22/11: 2 hours after the treatment, my cheeks were completely darkened and hurt immensely. There was oozing and my face was swollen. My face looked like burnt roasted chicken or just super bruised.
7/23/2011: 1 day later: After washing my face with the special soap my doctor provided me, I dabbed my face dry. That caused some of the dusky skin to sloth off, revealing open scars.
7/24/2011: 2 days later: The swelling and dusky skin began to subside and the open scars look like moon craters.
7/25/2011: 3 days later: My face is very very dry, but all the dark skin is disappearing and my face is reverting back to its normal state. The craters are healing nicely. But I still had to take a day off from work due to my appearance.
Do I recommend this treatment to anyone?
I am not an expert in making any recommendations to anyone about getting Fractional Laser treatment for acne scars. But I am an expert in my own experience. I hope that by posting my observations about my experience readers will thoroughly research laser treatments and other options before undergoing such procedures.
Does your skin type matter? Yes.
Before undergoing this procedure, I read a lot about this treatment -its risks and benefits. I also took into consideration that not all lasers will work on all skin types. I am of Asian/Indian/White background. My skin is olive/tanned.
The first dermatologist I went to assist me with my acne scars refused to treat me with lasers. He pointed to his own skin tone and simply said... "we are both the same skin color... with our skin tone, we will scar". Most lasers are made for fair skinned individuals. I appreciated his honesty and waited another year before more advanced lasers were in the market - lasers that were better equipped for darker-skinned patients.
This brings me to the present day. I was referred to my current dermatologist by two other dermatologist I had been seeing for years. He recommended Fraxel laser for the ice-pick acne, and deep-pitted acne, and Smoothbean as well.
Fraxel - full face - $800, cheeks - $300
Smoothbeam - cheeks - $300
I live in New York, so, it's a bit more pricey here.
The only recommendation I can make for readers is to make an informed decision. Do your research on the laser, read credible journal articles about it (American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine, etc.) check out the doctor's credentials, his/her history, patient reviews, etc. And the most important thing after doing all this research - ASK QUESTIONS! Don't be afraid to ask the doctor questions. That's what the doctor is there for. I'm not saying that all doctor must have good bedside manners. Even the doctor with the worst bedside manner will give you factual information about the treatment. And any question you ask is confidential - protected by law.
A doctor/Aesthetician that is very eager to perform any procedure on you without explaining what and why he is doing something is very fishy.
Before I went for consultation - I kept thinking the following: "This is my face... MY face... MY only face - I don't care how rude I may seem - I need to know everything before someone touches my face". I did my research, wrote down a ton of questions that I had been thinking of for months. I then went down my list of questions and asked the doctor everything. The doctor that performed the treatment on me answered all the questions I had. Whether or not he was annoyed, I didn't care. I just wanted to make sure he knew what he was doing, and more importantly, if I can trust him. I'm not saying that you should bombard a doctor with questions, but a part of this process is also your responsibility. You are giving a person the power to do what they want to your face; wouldn't you want to make sure that that person has the basic credentials at least?
So far I had only one treatment of Fraxel - full face. It is too early to tell if it made a difference. My dermatologist has called me nearly every day since the treatment to check on my progress. He gave me his personal cell phone and we would chat 10-15 minutes per day about everything that concerns me - my observation, my fears, etc.
I have no idea what will happen - if this is a waste of my money, if I will look worse than before, if this was a scam, etc. A part of me is very nervous and yet, optimistic that maybe this will be worth it. Let's hope so.