Fractional Resurfacing

What is Fractional Resurfacing?

Fractional Resurfacing, or fractional photothermolysis, is a process for treating soft tissues in order to diminish signs of aging. These include sun damage to the face and body, fine lines around the eyes and mouth, age spots on the face or body, and pigmentation irregularities.

How does Fractional Resurfacing work?

Fractional Resurfacing is a process using a type of laser technology which allows the laser to dot the skin with light energy. This leaves tiny pockets of untreated skin between the areas heated by the laser. Thus, the skin is able to regenerate much faster. Improvements in skin tone and appearance continue in the months following treatment.

What areas of the body does Fractional Resurfacing treat?

Many different types of lasers are available for this type of treatment. Some of them can be used for Fractional Resurfacing on the face and neck. Others are appropriate for treating the shoulders, chest, hands and arms.

What are the advantages of Fractional Resurfacing over other similar treatments?

One of the biggest advantages of Fractional Resurfacing is that it limits the amount of damage done to the layers of skin just below the epidermis. It is also a onetime treatment performed on an outpatient basis and does not require general anesthesia.

Who is a candidate for Fractional Resurfacing?

Although most adult men and women with skin damage can benefit from Fractional Resurfacing, doctors warn that those with dark skin could experience permanent lightening. Also, patients taking photosensitive drugs should not have treatment while these remain in their systems. Patients who have been taking Isotretinoin for severe acne during the past year should consider another method of resurfacing.

How is Fractional Resurfacing performed?

Usually, a doctor will give the patient a prescription medication to take before arrival to help him or her relax during the procedure. Then, a numbing cream will be applied to the area to be treated. For some treatments, the doctor may need to use dyes, cooling systems, or local anesthetics. During Fractional Resurfacing, the doctor will move the laser just above the skin’s surface in a grid-like pattern to heat the blood vessels underneath. The patient may feel some prickling and warmth, but most don’t find the process uncomfortable. Most procedures are completed in less than an hour. To get the best finished product, specialists say that patients should undergo at least three treatments, spaced at least one week apart.

What is the recovery like?

Patients heal quickly after Fractional Resurfacing and many are able to resume activities within the week. Patients use cool compresses to control pain and swelling immediately after the process. They may then use hypoallergenic creams and lotions to ease any flaking. Makeup may be used immediately to cover the redness as healing takes place. Doctors also suggest sleeping on the back for a few days and avoiding direct sunlight.

What will the results be like?

Patients will notice loose skin has tightened and will continue to get firmer in the months following Fractional Resurfacing. Redness, brown spots, light scars, and freckles will have faded significantly.

What are the risks?

Studies have shown no major complications due to Fractional Resurfacing. There may be a slight risk of temporary discoloration or blistering, but these rarely occur and disappear quickly.

Is Fractional Resurfacing approved for use in the U.S.?

Fractional Resurfacing is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and offered by certified providers in all regions of the U.S.

Is Fractional Resurfacing covered by insurance companies?

Because its purpose is for cosmetic treatment, Fractional Resurfacing is not covered by insurance providers or Medicare. Some providers to have payment plans to help patients spread the cost over several months.

Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.

By Staff
Updated: November 24, 2009

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