Fractional Lasers in Dermatology – Current Status and Recommendations

Fractional Lasers in Dermatology - Current Status and Recommendations

Sometimes, skin care products just won’t cut it in terms of the complexion goals you hope to achieve. While ingredients on the market can benefit your skin’s appearance, sometimes getting to the root of your complexion concerns comes down to being open to in-office treatments. That’s where fractional lasers come in.

Scroll down to find out what fractional lasers are and how they might be the answer to your skincare prayers.

What are Fractional Lasers?

Fractional lasers are resurfacing lasers that help our skin’s thermal column creation. Through these created columns—as opposed to allover damage—the skin can heal itself and regenerate itself, leading to the appearance of a revitalized complexion. These lasers target the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, the dermis, or the layer beneath the epidermis. It helps reduce pigment and stimulates collagen formation, respectively.


  • Blurs the appearance of scars
  • Lightens melasma and dark spots
  • Minimizes fine line and wrinkle appearance
  • Promotes the production of collagen
  • Reduces photodamage appearance
  • Shrinks the appearance of pores
  • Speeds up the process of wound healing

The Most Common Type of Fractional Lasers

Fractional lasers can be divided into two (2) primary categories: ablative (open) and non-ablative (non-open). Ablative fractional lasers have wavelengths that vaporize skin across the surface at higher densities or deeper into the skin at lower densities. Meanwhile, non-ablative wavelengths can heat and remodel the skin but don’t vaporize it.

Due to the less-invasive nature of non-ablative fractional lasers, experts say these types are the most common ones on the market. Non-ablative allows patients to use makeup during recovery. Additionally, there is no loose skin, and the healing is relatively quick. Furthermore, they’re fractional, meaning that the heat and light are delivered in a pixelated fashion.

With that in mind, the most common non-ablative fractional lasers are as follows:

  • Clear and Brilliant – is a resurfacing laser that uses low energy to help stimulate collagen, diminishing fine lines, wrinkles, and enlarged pores. The Permea handpiece targets more superficially, helping to reduce brown spots and improve hyperpigmentation, including melasma and post-acne blemishes, brightening the skin and even skin tone.
  • Fraxel Dual – is a fractional laser with two wavelengths, 1550nm and 1927nm. These wavelengths allow pigment targeting and collagen stimulation. You can use it in treating numerous conditions, including photo-aging, brown spots, wrinkles, uneven texture, large pores, scars, stretch marks, and skin pre-cancers.
  • Fraxel Repair – an ablative fractional, fractionated CO2 laser, can be used for skin rejuvenation and promote new collagen formation. It helps improve scarring, deep wrinkles, severe sun damage, and skin laxity.
  • Sciton Moxi – is a non-ablative fractional laser that touts itself as the perfect option for those just starting their skincare journey. Practitioners can use it on every skin type, all year round, to deliver more precise and much smoother skin. Expect no wounds since the laser isn’t vaporizing the tissue.
  • Sciton ProFractional – is an ablative fractional laser that creates deep channels in the skin to revitalize its appearance effectively. Albeit ablative, ProFractional uses ultra-narrow channels that are less likely to develop adverse side effects or call for longer healing times. Instead, people undergoing this treatment expect healing to take just a few days.

What to Expect During Fractional Laser Treatments

No matter what type of fractional laser is used, anesthetic creams are usually applied to treatment areas around 45 minutes to an hour before the treatment starts.

Although discomfort during treatment depends on the type of fractional laser used, non-ablative fractional lasers typically have mild two to three (3) out of ten (10) discomfort and heat levels. In contrast, fractional ablative lasers tend to be more uncomfortable compared to its counterpart. Patients usually feel the vibration and heat of the treatment. Although there’s the smell of laser-tissue interaction, air evacuators are used to vacuum some of the smoke away.

       Because of the higher levels of discomfort associated with ablative lasers, physicians often use local injections on top of the topical cream to ensure that it’s as painless as possible. In addition, practitioners may apply cold air during treatment to help with the pain. Still, it’s essential to understand that unpleasant sensations can be part of the process.

       That said, the treatment itself using fractional lasers is relatively quick, ranging from a few minutes to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the treatment area.

Potential Side Effects

Let’s be clear: Even with possible side effects, fractional lasers are much less risky than other lasers, thanks to their ability to target skin sections rather than the entire surface of a treatment area. Experts admit that fractional lasers may still cause treatment-related after-effects like pain, redness, peeling or flaking, swelling, hyperpigmentation, and crusting. Even though these after-effects are short-lived during the healing process, they typically dissipate days and weeks after the treatment. However, although less commonly, these treatments still can also cause acne-like eruptions, HSV flares, bacterial skin infections, erosions, prolonged redness, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.


Following fractional laser treatment, you must clean the skin during its healing process. Remember to wash your face using mild, gentle, non-abrasive cleansers several times daily. In addition, after ablative lasers, patients spray hypochlorous acid, such as Lasercyn, within the next couple of days after the procedure. Antimicrobial sprays help relieve any irritation while preventing infections and further discomfort during the healing process.

Regarding how long aftercare takes, expect good prescribed instructions anywhere between a couple of hours to several days and weeks. It all boils down to the specific treatment and skin sensitivity. To play it safe, use very gentle skincare, avoiding retinoids, chemical peels, harsh soaps, and other irritating products while your skin is healing. Additionally, experts emphasize the importance of sun protection during the healing process. Since your skin is already sensitive, you must protect it at all costs.

Final Takeaways

         Fractional lasers can genuinely make a difference in making your skin become zero to a hero. Reach out to skin experts and experience how these fractional lasers can help make a difference in your life, especially for your skin issues and concerns.

Are you already interested in experiencing fractional lasers? Our awesome friends at Skinetic Aesthetics can help you today. Visit them now!



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