Good or Excellent Response
46%
Based on All Available Studies
Strength of Evidence
1
2
3
4
5
Moderate Response
80%
Based on All Available Studies
Strength of Evidence
1
2
3
4
5
Side Effects
Low-Medium
How to Get It
Have a dermatologist or plastic surgeon? Make an appointment to get this procedure done.

Don't have a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon? See The American Academy of Dermatology Physician Database to find a dermatologist or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to find a plastic surgeon.
Read All About Non-ablative Fractional Laser
5
12.9%
4
22.3%
3
30.2%
2
17.3%
1
17.3%

Used Non-ablative Fractional Laser? Rate It:

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June 6, 2018
Fraxel 1550 for acne scars
I have struggled with acne for at least the past 10 years. Cystic and constant. At least 10 pimples at all times. Deep under the skin and mostly on my cheeks. I am a 27 year old white female with a fair complexion. I have done every topical (prescription & OTC), oral antibiotics, & Accutane twice. The only thing that has ever worked for me is Spironolactone, a hormone antibiotic pill - I take 50mgs in the morning & 100mg at night. It has changed my life. I also use a prescription sulfur face wash. I have not broken out (literally at all, nothing) in about a year, so I decided it was time to treat my scars. They made me severely insecure. I have both pitted & rolling scars. At first, I tried temporary filler to fill the scars but that did nothing. - - - - - - - I am doing a package of 4 Fraxel 1550 laser treatments (done using the Fraxel Dual machine). The Fraxel 1550 is a non-ablative laser, which means less downtime and leaves you with no open wounds. The Fraxel 1927 (also done w the Fraxel Dual machine - get it, Fraxel dual, it can do both the 1927 and 1550) is an ablative laser with major downtime & open wounds. It is great for pigmentation issues, whereas the 1550 does best with resurfacing. I did a ton of research because the package of 4 was $4,000. I wanted to make sure I was spending my money well. The Fraxel 1550 made more sense for my lifestyle and symptoms. - - - - - - I spaced out each of the 4 laser treatments a month apart. I asked my doctor to use the strongest setting & do the maximum number of passes (aka, how many time he goes over the same spots). I am having my 4th laser treatment tomorrow. I have my laser treatments on a Wednesday, and then work from home on Thursday & Friday. The first day you are just a little red. Second day you are so beyond swollen - my face looked like a big red square and my eyes were so so puffed closed/being pulled in weird positions. Third day you are still very swollen, but not as swollen. Forth day your skin starts to slightly harden to a sandpaper-y feel. Same for the 5th day, & your skin crusts off to smoother skin underneath. The 6th day (the following Monday) I went back to work. I was able to put makeup on, but had to take it off mid-day and reapply because it got very cake-y looking and looked like it was sitting on top of my skin. Very obvious. I never make plans for that Monday evening, I just go home after work, take my makeup off and slather on moisturizer. MOISTURIZER is KEY during recovery. From day one I never let my skin get dry - I always kept my face wet with moisturizer. This is key to the healing process. I did not break out from the Fraxel, though because I was paranoid that I would I had a 7 oral antibiotic called Solodyn. - - - - - - - The pain is pretty severe, but the treatment is very quick - max 10 mins. I sat with a numbing cream for an hour, was given a percoset, a valium, and 4 tylenol an hour before the treatment. I was also given laughing gas during the treatment. And it totally totally toooottally still hurt prettttty badly. Once the laser goes off, your face is incredibly hot like you have the worse sunburn you could possibly imagine. I sit with a sheet mask and an ice pack mask for about 10 minutes and the hotness subsides. - - - - - - As far as results, it does take at least 3 months for results from the first laser treatment to show. So, I should be seeing results from my first laser treatment right now. My skin 100% is brighter and more even-toned. My less severe scars have diminished, but the worse scars have a long way to go. I am going to do 2 more treatments (for a total of 6) because if I've gone this far, I might as well go all the way. I believe that I will get the results I am looking for with the 6 treatments. I am very very very particular and a perfectionist when it comes to my skin. I will update here with more results. - - - - - - - - Also, skinceuticals CE Ferulic serum is a life changer. It is pricey but 100000% worth it. I am hooked for life. I bought it almost 4 months ago and am only about three-quarters of a way through. Makes u glow under ur makeup.
September 24, 2017
Life changing decision
I'm surprised this has such low ratings. I've had great results and about 70% improvement in scarring with 11 sessions of the Fraxel DUAL 1550/1927 laser over the past few years. Background: I have thick oily skin, with rolling and boxcar scars from teenage cystic acne. I use prescription strength retinol nightly (Tazorac 0.1% gel) to keep my skin clear, however despite clear skin, there was still plenty of scarring and in the sunlight my skin texture looked worse than an orange peel. I had heard that Fraxel dual was the gold standard for getting rid of acne scarring and despite some poor reviews took the plunge and it was the best decision I've made in my life. I do around 3-6 sessions per year (the max # of sessions you can do is 6 a year) and paid about $570 for each session because my local provider had a package discount. I logged my experience with the settings and recovery for reference below. Most of the sessions were administered on the highest setting (70 MJ) because I have light, thick skin and thus can handle it. I really didn't see much results before hitting this highest setting, so if you have similar skin type I would highly recommend being as aggressive as possible in these sessions. Recovery took about 5-7 days for me to get rid of swelling and crustiness (as in I stopped looking like a red lobster blowfish hybrid monster and can leave the house again with full coverage makeup). Full recovery with skin being back to normal (no redness, no peeling) and where I can wear light makeup normally again is about 21 days. I found using aquaphor helped greatly in speeding up restoring the skin's barrier. To get rid of flakes and molting I resumed my prescription retinol tazorac immediately the night of the treatment and it helps drastically as well (note this is generally not a recommended approach - most doctors advise stopping retinol 2 weeks before and resuming 2 weeks after, but I chose to not follow this because I know my skin can handle it. And I got really good results.) The only negative I can think of is that the actual treatment is quite painful. My nurse does 4 horizontal and 4 vertical passes and on the highest setting, even with numbing cream, every single pass feels like the sharp side of a heated knife mildly scraping against my skin. But it goes by quickly if you think about other things. No pain no gain right? Fraxel Log 2014 October ' 55 MJ: Lots of pustules, took a long time to heal November?? : no pustules; lots of redness many weeks after 2015 November ' 55 or 60 MJ: no pustules, took ~ 6 days December ' 60 MJ: took 5-6 days 2016 November ' 65 or 70 MJ ' most dramatic improvement but very dry and flaky in the healing process December ' 70 MJ ' healing took shortest time; laser pressed lightly. But had red patch and peeling skin near nasolabial fold for weeks after 2017 May ' 70 MJ: This is the 3rd day but my face texture seems so smooth, like normal skin. It used to be really rough, dry, coarse and flaky, even when I use tazorac religiously following the session. June ' 70 MJ ' I would say my skin is 70% smooth now. In darker lighting/shadows there are still the pits, but I'm hopeful the next few sessions will get rid of that. July ' 70 MJ August ' 70 MJ September ' 70 MJ: skin continues to be smoother with each session. Rolling scars seem to have flattened considerably; the icepick scars look more like big pores now which can be covered with primers (Benefit Porefessional) and setting powder (Tarte smooth operator amazonian clay setting powder)
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December 2, 2016
Bad results and didn't meet my expectations
I've had fraxel laser five days ago, the results didn't meet my expectations, this is a light peel and my skin didn't go red at all. The consultant wants me to spend more money to have more treatments when i'm struggling financially. I could've achieved better results at home with tca peel. This is like 5%tca peel. I'm not pleased with the results and think consultants delibrately do this so you have more sessions. I wish i could get a refund and go somewhere else.
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November 7, 2013
Palomar laser

Pros:

smoother skin
filling in pick scars slowly

Cons:

takes time

I finished Accutane in April of this year, it worked good, was on for 5 months. Then this September I asked my derm about my facial scarring and redness, and she suggested Palomar laser. So I did 2 treatments 4 weeks apart, I had breakouts after both treatments, thought it was from laser but im not sure anymore, because I am still breaking out on places where I did not even get the laser done, my next appointment is next Friday, and I don't know what to do, the 2 treatments have filled in my pick scars pretty good, but still could use more treatments, but these breakouts... im debating if I should just ask to go on Accutane again? suggestions? opinions? I can also provide pictures if needed. Thanks
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June 27, 2013
No Light At the End of This Laser!

Pros:

Smoothed Skin for about a year
Took away a few fine lines for about the same

Cons:

Cost
Duration of results
Not good for deep scars

I'm a white 52 year old woman. I have had acne scaring since I was 13. In my twenties and thirties I would get that once a month dreaded whopper of a zit prior to my period leaving yet another deep pitted scar almost each month. Do the math on that one! I had my first and only child at 37 it was only then that the acne finally stopped. Mine must have been very hormonal in nature. I have done some modeling and local TV and was always very self conscious about the appearance of my face. Five years ago never having any surgery or cosmetic procedure I decided to do something I had always dreamed of doing - improve the texture of my face. I had it done by a very renowned Chicago Plastic Surgeon. After a consultation he advised me this was the only way to go for my deep scarring. I asked about dermabrasion and CO2 but he said those were old and not really used anymore and this was the way to go. The procedure was relatively new and I was told that the laser was The Doc's "new baby"! That should have been my first hint. Nothing like being a guinea pig for your very first cosmetic procedure! I felt for many of you who described the procedure as being very painful. My guess it you may not have a high pain threshold and thiner skin. Fortunately for me I literally have thick skin and a very high tolerance for pain. The procedure itself was not painful, it was the few hours after. Imagine your worst sunburn on and amplify that by 5. I think people thought I was crazy as I drove home in Chicago with all the windows down in the middle of January, but the cool, crisp air was refreshing and a distraction from the pain. Hint bring some Ibuprofen with you and take it before you leave the office. It will help with the swelling and the pain once the numbing cream wears off. Also make sure you have ice packs or the equivalent waiting at home and be diligent about icing every 20 minutes or so. I'm not going to lie my face looked like I had been in a minor fire. Since I responded so well due to my thicker skin, they went on a higher lever during my first treatment. I had it done on a Wednesday and by Friday was able to go to dinner and a movie with what looked like a minor sunburn. Pealing was very minor and much like the other gals it was brown in color. I found Aquaphor (found at your local drugstore) helpful in preventing infection and keeping the skin moist post lasar to be most helpful. Prior to my fist vist they took a photo of me as they wanted to use me in their marketing materials for a before and after results photo and I agreed to this. After 5 treatments over a span of 6 months I saw improvement of about 25%, which now years later have all but disappeared and most of the deeper scars are all back. Also, oddly I had never had broken capillaries, and they started to appear around the thinner areas of my face right after the first treatment. When I mentioned this, they admitted that sometimes this laser can do that. They suggested that I could have another type of laser treatment to get rid of those! Unreal huh? For about the first year I felt it was much improved, but I'm not sure if that was the Fraxel or the Botox and Restylane I was talked into during one of my subsequent visits. In retrospect, when these new procedures come out the Doctors are very excited about them, but the truth is they really don't know what the long term outcome will be for the majority of the patients. Five years later if I were to do it over again for me and my types of scaring, I would and should have had a more invasive procedure like dermabrasion followed by a strong chemical peel. In fact at a conference about a year later I met another Plastic Surgeon, with whom I consulted with. He was shocked by the other doctors choice for my particular scarring. Another hint- always get a second opinion! Oh yeah... remember the "before" picture they took and wanted to take the after? Guess what? They never asked to take the "after picture" for the practices' marketing collateral. I will let you guess why...Remember what I said about being a guinea pig! Seriously, I think for very minor scarring this may work, but for moderate to severe... not so much folks.
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K
March 24, 2013

Pros:

Low downtime. Looks good for a week.

Cons:

Not worth the high price. Doesn't really work on pitted scars or fine lines around mouth. Causes breakouts.

I'm 38 with years of mild pitted scarring in my cheeks & fine lines around mouth & just uneven skin all over. Have tried many things over the years with no luck. Decided to do series of 4 fraxel restore. Not painful & no real downtime, looked promising 1st week but then skin always back to normal after 2nd or 3rd week. Finished my 4th 3 wks ago and I see no improvement whatsoever. Now I wake up with new whiteheads every day. Not worth the 3400 I spent. Had high hopes & big let down.
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Sara
October 30, 2012

Pros:

some improvement

Cons:

downtime
redness

I am a 27 year old female and I had my first fraxel restore laser treatment in July 2012 for moderate/severe acne scarring. As for the treatment itself: It hurt. Nothing terrible, but it was certainly very uncomfortable. Healing was rough. I spent two days very red and very swollen. By the time work came around on Monday, I was able to put on make up but I certainly didn't look great. I was still red, a little swollen, and by then, peeling had begun. It was a rough work week. I then spent a long time being unhappy with my fraxel results. I am sure no one else noticed my face looking bad, but the skin just didn't seem as healthy as it once had, my scars did not seem improved, and my skin was red. For awhile I even had obvious lines near my eyes where you could see the path the doctor moved the laser. Lately though, nearly four months later, my skin is no longer red, seems healthy, and I do notice some improvement with scars! Not a lot, but some. I believe doing the 3 remaining treatments will leave me noticeable improvement in my skin. This has not been an easy or enjoyable process for me (and it's nowhere near over!), but I think by the end it will be worth it. I just hope the improvements will be worth $3,000.
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honest
January 28, 2012

Pros:

20 to 25 percent improvement

Cons:

can't go out for at least 4 days
doesn't work after the first time
very expensive

The first time i did fraxel restore i was so excited because after a week it seemed like i had a 60 percent improvement but in reality it was mainly swelling. Two weeks later it was only about a 25% improvement. I went back a month later for my second fraxel restore, it did nothing. I was told i should spreed the treatments futher apart. I waited 3 months again nothing. 6 months again nothing. another 3 months NOTHING! I only saw improvement my first time and I have to admit I'm at least happy for the 25% improvement...so I geuss the bottom line is do it once and then stop. BTW I also went to a highend place. I also tried Juvederm which did nothing at all.
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Anonymous
January 23, 2012

Pros:

smoother skin, reduced scars, smaller pores

Cons:

4 days downtime per treatment, requires patience

I'm writing quickly (and thus poorly) here, but want to leave some info to help others since I read these boards myself years ago before having my tx. First, I'm reviewing fraxel restore (not repair). these are significantly different treatments and many of the reviews I'm seeing here don't distiguish clearly. I'm a veteran, I guess. Had 4 treatments about 5 years ago. Saw true improvements after 3rd. My scarring is generally mild and shallow with the exception of 3-4 deeper icepick type scars. Fraxel made most shallow newer scars disappear totally, although I did not see much improvement on shape/depth of older ice pick scars beside improved pigment--but that in itself made them look much less deep because they had a purplish color prior to tx. Pores looked smaller and my skin just has a generally healthier look. I was able to go without makeup much of the time post fraxel. I see some people reporting that they suffered fat loss and decreased elasticity a few years post treatment. I don't want to discount their experiences, but I will say that I recently was tempted to think I was experiencing the same things except that I am seeing the same changes in areas that were never treated (i.e. you skin changes as you age regardless of laser treatment). I had only apples of cheeks and a small spot on my forehead treated, so I can see that the same changes are happening on other parts of my face. I'm in my thirties so I guess I should expect some changes, but I have also seen many friends who never had fraxel but started to age in their 20s. I do wonder how many of these side effects can be attributed to the natural aging process. Having said that, I did have spot treatments with a CO2 a long time ago (before the fraxel days), and I did see a difference in the texture of those ares vs untreated skin. Treated skin had a waxy almost "too smooth" look which was actually fixed by the fraxel. Am out of characters . . .
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JD
January 8, 2012

Pros:

I am 36 and have poor skin. After 5 Fraxel Re:store treatments (Re:store because I am Navajo and white and have tanned skin that hyperpigments easily) I am pleased with my results and see a 50% improvement, which I why I felt it was important for me to post my success. Is my skin perfect or flawless now? No, but my scars have, as my husband says, “dramatically improved” so I am not complaining.

Cons:

There is downtime. The first week I am swollen--really swollen the first 3-4 days; then the scabbing. Week 2, I break out terribly around my mouth and around the lower half of my face.

I had my first treatment in November of 2010; my fifth early December 2011 (exactly one month ago). The only reasons I can assume so many people are having disappointing results are: maybe their doctor (if even a doctor performed the procedure)had no idea what the heck he or she was doing; maybe they have not allowed enough time to for the collagen rebuilding to kick in. Remember this is not a quick fix. I see myself every day and tend to be critical of what my face looks like. On the other hand, my husband and family members have seen subtle improvements since I healed from the first. My friends began to comment on visible smoothing (remember, not perfection) after the third and fourth procedures. I used to photoshop my forehead scars in pictures. Although the scars are still there they less visible and do not show up in a photographs anymore. For me, this is success enough. The true test came when I went to see my dermatologist (although a medical doctor performed my procedure'"with my skin, I would not have it any other way, my dermatologist did not) who I began seeing at age 15. He commented that my Fraxel results 'looked really good.' I told him I was hoping for a 35-50% improvement and he responded, 'Oh, you will definitely get that.' My dermatologist is not a friend, nor a family friend, he is my doctor and has seen my skin at its worst'"he would not lie. I would love to answer any questions or encourage any of you who need it. People, acne scars suck. Acne is from hell. My acne scars were horrible - especially in the temple to cheek 'pork chop'. The comments behind my back were, 'J is very pretty but those acne scars'' I was mauled by acne. Fraxel Re:store is basically the ONLY procedure safe for my tanned skin'"and I am not complaining.
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Finding a Doctor

The right dermatologist can make a big difference to your patient experience and the success of your acne treatment plan. Here are the steps to find a dermatologist who is a good fit:

  1. Use the search feature on the American Academy of Dermatology website to look for board-certified dermatologists in your area, and filter the search results for doctors with a special interest in treating acne.
  2. Read online patient reviews of any dermatologists you are considering and ask people you know whether they have any experience with these dermatologists.
  3. Do your research and go to your first appointment with questions prepared.
  4. Listen to what your gut feeling tells you once you see a dermatologist in person. If you are not completely comfortable, try a different dermatologist.

Finding a Doctor

Only a select few plastic surgeons specialize in acne scar revision surgery. Be certain to find a provider who specializes in acne scar repair and who is passionate and experienced in this area.

Be sure to:

  • Look at before and after photos, the more the better, especially patients with similar scarring to your own.
  • Be realistic about results. Look for improvement, not a cure.

Questions to ask a potential scar revision specialist:

  • Are you board certified? Be certain that they are board certified.
  • How long have you been performing these procedures? Normally, the more experience the better, however, some younger surgeons may be more on top of the latest procedures.
  • Can I speak to some of your other patients? Ask for references for several patients who had similar scarring and speak to them about the process and their satisfaction with results.

Red flags:

  • Their story changes: As you discuss different treatment options, if they tend to change their mind easily, or agree with whatever you say, consider this a red flag. A confident, experienced surgeon will possess strong, unwavering opinions.
  • Your gut tells you "no": Trust your gut. If you just don't feel that the doctor is the right fit, trust that and move on. On the other hand, if you feel they are the perfect specialist for you, trust that feeling.