Fraxel Repair Treatment
By Robert G. Anderson, MD
Q: What happens to our skin as we age?
Smoking, sun exposure, hydration, skin color and pigmentation, as well as heredity all play a role in skin aging. I sometimes see 80-year-old patients who look 60 and 40-year-old patients who look 70. The variation in skin quality from person to person is sometimes quite remarkable. Nonetheless, we all age, and the aging process is consistent.
The skin is made up of two layers: the outer epidermis and inner dermis. Subcutaneous tissue (fat) lies deep to the dermis. As we age, the dermis and fatty layer beneath the skin progressively thin. This becomes more noticeable after the age of 40, due to the slowed production and replacement of collagen fibers in the dermis. This is why we begin to notice fine lines, deeper wrinkles, relaxed neck skin and early jowls in our mid 40s and early 50s.
Q: What are the options for treating an aging face?
Think of the two Qs: quantity and quality of skin. As we age, we end up with too much poor-quality skin. We treat excess skin with surgery by lifting eyebrows, removing upper eyelid skin and bags from the lower eyelids, and tightening the cheeks and neck. But the remaining skin is still thin, sun damaged and of poor quality. Surgery does nothing to improve the quality of our skin.
Until the Fraxel re:pair laser, we really didn’t have a safe option for selectively improving skin quality. Fraxel re:pair is a sophisticated, computer-driven laser system that uses fractionated carbon dioxide (CO2) to drill microscopic holes in the skin. Thermal damage to the adjacent tissue results in new collagen production. The healing response is tighter, thicker, smoother skin with improvement in pigmentation and vascular irregularities.
Q: How is the Fraxel re:pair different than a conventional CO2 laser?
The early lasers for skin resurfacing (CO2 and Erbium) would actually destroy the epidermis and the outer portion of dermis, leaving the deeper dermis intact. Unfortunately, these lasers thinned the skin and often caused loss of pigmentation. And within a few years after these laser skin resurfacings, the skin was as thin as someone decades older. Because of these and other problems, I abandoned laser skin resurfacing a number of years ago. Surgical treatment of the aging face has made a number of advancements over the years, but until the advent of the Fraxel re:pair, we didn’t have a safe modality to improve the skin quality. Now we have the ability to safely remove excess skin and improve the quality of the remaining skin. This has taken facial rejuvenation to a whole new level.
Q: What are the benefits of Fraxel re:pair?
The Fraxel re:pair system has been approved by the FDA to treat wrinkles, irregular skin texture, sun and age spots (pigmented lesions), and sun-induced redness (vascular dyschromia). It is especially beneficial for the treatment of crow’s feet around the eyes, severe photodamage (due to sun exposure) and a general tightening of the facial and neck skin. The Fraxel re:pair can be used on the entire face and neck, in addition to the upper chest, hands and arms. Healing is rapid with re-epithelialization (skin healing) within 48 to 72 hours, minimized social downtime (as little as seven to nine days) and reduced risk of complications due to a faster healing time.
Q: How is the Fraxel re:pair performed?
As with so many things, proper preparation is of paramount importance. After the initial consultation with the physician―during which time the entire pre-operative, operative and post-operative course is explained in detail―you will visit with our nurse to plan and prepare for your surgery. Your surgery is performed under general anesthesia on an out-patient basis in our AAAHC certified surgery center. We see you every other day until your skin is completely healed (usually six to nine days), then weekly for the next three weeks. We also work closely with our licensed medical aesthetician to provide the necessary post-treatment skin care to enhance your recovery.
Robert G. Anderson, MD, medical director of the Fort Worth Plastic Surgery Center, is a renowned surgeon, double board certified in Plastic Surgery, as well Otolaryngology. He has an international reputation for his skill, high standards of professionalism, and safety. The Fort Worth Plastic Surgery Center offers patients the advantage of extensive experience in the art of cosmetic surgery and complex facial reconstructive procedures in our fully accredited, on-site surgical facility employing an MD Anesthesiologist.