What Lasering Off The Top Layer Of Your Skin Looks Like Up Close

File under things we've been extremely curious about, but are hesitant to try: Fraxel, a catchier word for fractionated resurfacing laser. The celebrity-favourite treatment, beloved by Kim Kardashian, Jhené Aiko, and more, prompts skin to physically peel in order to trigger collagen production and the growth of new skin cells.
The procedure has been trending for years, but the results are what really keep people coming back. After about two weeks' time, discolouration from sun damage is diminished and divots from old acne scars are filled in. Plus, thanks to that sudden spurt in collagen production, au naturel complexions start to look more smooth, plump, and evenly toned. In other words, it's made to make skin really glow.
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But for all the treatment's reported benefits, we were still left with so many questions. For starters: Is it affordable? Exactly how long will we have to hide in our apartment after the treatment? And does it hurt?
To answer these burning questions and more, we turned to Nancy Samolitis, M.D., a Los Angeles-area dermatologist, and her 33 year-old patient, Suzy, who allowed us to tag along while she tried Fraxel for the first time.
After numbing cream is applied, the procedure itself takes a quick 10 or 15 minutes. While Dr. Samolitis classifies the sensation of the laser as a prickly heat, Suzy reports straight-up pain — and asks the derm to pause treatment at one point in order to deal. After the treatment, Suzy experiences the expected redness and a bit of swelling, which, after a few days, gives way to brown spots that crumble and fall away.
So after the pain and expense (treatments tend to clock in at about $1,250), are the results worth it? Suzy admits prior to the treatment that her expectations were pretty high: “I really hope the results are as good as I’m hyping them up to be, because I just told everyone that I'm not gonna even recognize me [afterward],” she says.
To see for yourself, check out the video to see Suzy's skin before and after the treatment — and to glean tips from Dr. Samolitis on crucial post-treatment care. "We can accomplish a lot in the office with a laser treatment like the Fraxel, but if you don't go home and take good care of your skin, the problem that you're fixing can come back pretty quickly," she warns.
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