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Fractional Laser Experience: A Doctor Tells All

Posted on 27 Jan 2018
Dr Ethan
Singapore
Consult Doctor
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Dr Ethan
Singapore
Posted on 27 Jan 2018
Consult Doctor

Given the popularity of my two previous posts about fractional laser costs and acne scar treatment in Singapore, I decided to write this post to provide supplemental information about my fractional laser experience. It also covers what to expect post-procedure, as well as an aftercare guide.

1. Fractional laser experience: Pre

I arrived at 7 pm to register and have a couple of photographs taken. Photographs are important as it’s like monitoring gym progress - you need to track what happens with your skin over time.

The nurse will proceed to apply numbing cream on your face, and instruct you to wait for at least 30 minutes. I strongly suggest 1-2 hours for best effects.

Do nudge her also to apply liberal amounts around the lips, chin, and hairline area. These spots tend to be missed by the nurse, and can be rather sensitive to the stinging sensation of the laser.

The first time I had fractional laser performed, I finished applying two whole tubes of numbing cream on myself, and hardly felt a thing. My second experience this time was more painful for the reasons above.

Interestingly, some clinics in the USA actually perform local anaesthetic blocks on your face, but I wouldn’t go to that extent (nor am I aware of any clinics who do that in Singapore).

The pain of the laser is really not so bad - facials are much worse (I had a facial done once for my sister’s wedding when I was 18 for the experience, and resolved never to go for a facial again after).

2. Fractional laser experience: During

The laser itself is a fairly quick process lasting between 10-15 minutes.

Read this previous post for a more detailed explanation of what fractional laser is effective for and how it works.

Random additional thoughts:

    • Some areas are going to hurt more than others, like when you are on a dentist’s chair and anticipate/dread cleaning the more sensitive parts of your teeth. If you want to avoid the “ouch” moments, take note of my advice above: 1-2 hours of numbing cream on prior, liberal amounts, more at chin/lip/hairline area.
    • Burnt skin smell is expected, kind of like when you burn your bacon. Don’t freak out.
    • I’m aware that fractional works very well for acne scars, but interestingly, Dr Chow mentioned that it will also work for faint forehead wrinkles. I’m slightly skeptical – obviously it depends on type of wrinkle and location too, but for forehead wrinkles, I feel that Botox is definitely the more effective of the two. Will let you know how that turns out.
    • The Edge Fractional Laser machine has a laser surgery mode, which Dr Chow used to remove a small hardened cyst that has resided on my nose for ages. I was very pleased with the result.
    • My previous experience with fractional was using a machine that projected the laser in a square grid pattern. The Edge uses dot projections instead, as a grid like sunburnt pattern is apparently not so in vogue with the CBD crowd.

3. Fractional laser experience: Post

After the laser, your face will look and feel like the worst sunburn in your life. You will feel constant heat, as well as a stinging/itch sensation. All tolerable, however.

When the redness starts coming on your face, you’ll also notice a swimmer tan line around your eyes, thanks to the googles you wear during the procedure.

And that’s pretty much it! You are good to go home immediately after the procedure (or back to office, if you don’t mind the burnt lobster queries coming your way).

I was given Fuban (fusidic acid), an antiseptic to prevent infection. The type of creams and aftercare instructions that you get will differ from clinic on clinic, but most of them are based on the same principles below.

4. Fractional laser experience: Aftercare guide

In order to optimize fractional laser results, the main goal is to prevent sun exposure and infection to your skin, and to keep it moisturized.

Fractional laser benefits are derived from skin regeneration and remodelling – if however, you get an infection or sun damage, the recovery process will be adversely affected. Moisturized skin is also important for better results. To that end, different clinics will have varying instructions. Below are important pointers (which I've compiled from multiple sources) I'd adhere to myself:

    • Keep your head elevated on the first night to reduce swelling and redness - I used 2 pillows for this. Some clinics may also recommend applying cooling packs to your face and taking NSAIDS like ibuprofen to help with pain, and further reduce inflammation.
    • Sunblock of at least SPF 30. I would personally avoid the sun for the first week, and ideally for the first month.
    • Moisturize at least 3-4 times a day, or whenever your skin dries out. Aquaphor is a good brand for this.
    • I was personally recommended Cicaplast (La Roche Posay) by a dermatologist collegue, and find that it works very well for me. It moisturizes, helps the skin to repair, and also functions as an antiseptic.
    • Don’t pick at scabs that form. They are part of the recovery process, and will fall off themselves. The whole process should take 5-10 days, depending on how strong the laser settings were.

If you have any other queries pertaining to fractional laser, head over to Ask A Doctor.

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