Mind Your Body TV Episode 3 with Christopher Zachary, M.D.
In spite of what we see at Hollywood’s often predictable Red Carpet events, perfect skin is an unattainable goal for many of us—unless we have help and a budget for our own essential skin savers. As baby boomers, existing imperfections may worsen as our skin sags and loses volume, both inevitable results of the breakdown of proteins collagen and elastin. Even long-time acne scars may appear worse when paired with their uninvited pals, age spots. Let‘s not forget wrinkles that shout “Good Morning!” after a night of snoozing on your side, leaving a nightmarish crease ironed into your cheek or forehead. Sleep on your back if you can: That’s if you can.
A fraction of your face
Among essential skin savers, enter the Fraxel laser for fractional aesthetic skin resurfacing. You may have heard of it, as the best known in its class of devices. Unlike its more aggressive predecessors, parent company Solta Medical says Fraxel affects “a fraction of tissue at a time with thousands of microscopic laser columns—each just one-tenth the diameter of a hair follicle. The laser columns stimulate a faster, natural healing process that works from the inside out, replacing damaged tissue with younger, smoother, healthier skin.”
A 2005 study in Aesthetic Surgery Journal by Laurence S. Bass, M.D. noted that Fraxel laser treatment “produces the resurfacing effects of tissue removal, treats pigmentary changes, improves rhytids (wrinkles), and stimulates tissue remodeling. Compared with other classical approaches, it has the advantages of no recovery time, no open wound, few non-responders, few complications, and the ability to be used in all skin types.”
Types of lasers
Fraxel offers two non-ablative lasers, gentler re:fine and more powerful re:store, and one ablative C02 laser, re:pair. The latter is the Big Kahuna in the family, with temporary side effects that may include skin crusting, then shedding of scabs and an extended time to heal. Don’t know about you, but that makes me squirm.
To learn more about the “Fraxel,” I spoke to Dr. Christopher B. Zachary, professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of California, Irvine. Along with Fraxel, his age-fighting arsenal includes the Sciton ProFractional and Cutera Fractional Pearl ablative lasers, and the non-ablative Cynosure Affirm. You may want to take time to learn about each of these to determine, with your doctor, which is right for you. It’s nice, but also confusing, to have choices among essential skin savers for mature skin.
Dr. Zachary told me that when comparing the three treatments, social downtime may range from none for re:fine and re:store to seven days with aggressive re:pair. How many treatments are required? Four to six for re:fine, two to one for re:store and only one with re:pair. Discomfort can be mild with the first two levels of laser and significant with re:pair, so definitely ask about pain reduction before you begin. Internet forum posts I studied reflect different levels of satisfaction and differing pain thresholds—some intolerable—for patients who’ve undergone Fraxel and similar treatments. Expect to pay approximately $750 to $1500 per treatment for re:fine or re:store and between $3,000 to $5,000 for re:pair. No one said beauty comes cheaply, so I have my Health Savings Account, and now my “Wish List” Savings Account. Time to make another deposit…