Potential Side Effects of Fraxel

Fraxel laser treatment is fast becoming one of the most preferred treatment options for the removal of acne and surgical scars, facial fine lines and wrinkles, melasma, age spots and skin imperfections. In fact, Fraxel laser has received FDA approval for the effectiveness and relatively low potential for risks.

The technique is done by using laser beams to penetrate into the dermal layer of the skin and induce precisely controlled damage to the treatment area, triggering the skin's own healing process. As a result, superficial imperfections will gradually fall off and be replaced by a fresh layer of newly regenerated and healthier skin. Within the Fraxel family, there are three subcategories of treatments:

  • Fraxel Refine
  • Fraxel Restore
  • Fraxel Repair

They are based on the same concept, but each is slightly more invasive than the previous to treat more serious skin defects. Compared with other types of treatment options, Fraxel laser is usually favored for their qualities of effectiveness, relative safety and minimal recovery requirements. However, despite the widely acclaimed simplicity of the procedures, there are possibilities for adverse side effects. These risk factors should be carefully considered before treatment.


For most patients, minor swelling can result from undergoing Fraxel Refine or Fraxel Restore treatments, but the swelling usually subsides within 24 hours and does not interfere with normal life activity. For the more invasive Fraxel Repair procedures, swelling can be slightly more serious and can last 2 to 5 days post treatment. However, in rare cases, prolonged periods of swelling do occur.

Redness and Sun Sensitivity

Post procedure redness is to be expected. It will look and feel very similar to a sun burn. The degree of redness and burning sensation will vary depending on the type of Fraxel treatment. Usually, for Fraxel Refine and Restore, redness and discomfort will disappear within 2 days, and for Fraxel Repair patients, these side effects should recede within a week. After Fraxel treatment, the skin will be more photosensitive. Patients are recommended to avoid direct sun exposure and to wear sun block SPF30 or higher for up to 3 months post treatment.


Scarring and other permanent skin damage can be potential risks of Fraxel treatments, but since most Fraxel laser procedures are non-ablative, these occurrences are also very rare. Scarring after Fraxel can appear as change of skin texture, protrusion or depression. Though research supports that scarring only occurs in less than 1% of all patients, there have been claims of permanent skin damage that resulted after Fraxel procedures.


Prolonged hyperpigmentation, the darkening of the skin, can occur as a result of Fraxel laser treatment, but the possibility for this type of side effect is also very rare.


Bacterial and viral infections are also very rare side effects, but there are reports that Fraxel may cause cold sores to occur. 

Fraxel laser is considered a safe treatment option for a variety of skin conditions. It is considered one of least invasive of all dermatological procedures, but this does not exclude them from having risks. You should fully discuss them with your doctor to decide if Fraxel is the most suitable choice for you.

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