There is often confusion as to which acne scar treatment is better, the Fractional CO2 Laser or the Fraxel re:store Laser. Both lasers are fractionated, meaning that healthy skin is left between the treated areas for safer treatments and faster healing times. Both the Fractional CO2 Laser and the Fraxel re:store are resurfacing lasers, meaning that they stimulate the production of new, healthy collagen to fill in the scarred surface of the skin.
Then what is the difference between the Fractional CO2 and the Fraxel re:store acne scar lasers?
Ablative vs non-ablative: The Fractional CO2 Laser is an ablative laser, which means that the energy disrupts the surface of the skin. The Fraxel re:store is non-ablative, so the laser’s energy penetrates the skin without ablating the skin’s surface.
Downtime: The Fractional CO2 Laser, because it is an ablative laser, has 3-6 days of downtime; the skin may look crusted after the treatment, so most patients hide out for a few days. The Fraxel re:store laser has only 2 days of downtime; since it is non-ablative, patients may apply makeup in the days following the treatment.
Frequency of treatments: For most patients, the Fractional CO2 Laser acne scar treatment is a one-time treatment. For patients who can tolerate a few days of downtime, this is ideal, since only one treatment is necessary. The Fraxel re:store laser requires 4 treatments, for most patients. The Fraxel re:store treatments are performed approximately one month apart.
Dr. Schweiger explains that, “During your visit to the Clear Clinic, we will further discuss the specifics of both treatments. Depending on skin type and the type of acne scars present, some patients may respond better to one treatment than the other. Though sometimes patients choose between the Fraxel and the Fractional CO2 Laser simply because one fits better into their schedule. Both treatments yield excellent improvement of acne scars. Patients with pitted acne scars see between 50-70% improvement of their acne scars.”
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