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What is fractional resurfacing for skin?

Fractional resurfacing for skin, also called fractional photothermolysis, is a technology that removes a small fraction of the surface of the skin during each treatment to resurface the skin. This procedure is similar to a resurfacing laser, but with much less downtime. The micro-injury causes the collagen to remodel. This procedure is used for large pores, pigment abnormalities and acne scars. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes, and you may require three to five treatments for the best results. The cost is between $750 and $2,500 per treatment. 
In fractional resurfacing (Fraxel), a laser beam divided into thousands of pinpoint fractions vaporizes the top and deeper layers of skin in microscopic dots called microthermal treatment zones. Skin between zones remains untouched, which is thought to help speed healing.

What it's best for: Fine lines and deeper wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and scars. Can be used on neck, chest, hands, and face.

Average cost: $1,000 per treatment.

Number of treatments: Three to five sessions at least 4 days apart.

Risks and recovery time:
  • Mild sunburned look occurs immediately following treatment. There is swelling for 2 to 3 days and a pinkish color that persists for a week.
  • Some flaking and possibly crusting develop during healing.
  • Complete results appear in 1 to 3 months. There is some risk of pigment problems.
Inside scoop:
  • Topical anesthetic is used to relieve prickling sensation. Can be used on darker skin types.
  • Results are not as dramatic as ablative laser treatment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.