At first glance, a laser resurfacing treatment such as Fraxel might seem similar to other skin rejuvenation techniques. But a side by side comparison reveals just how different Fraxel and microdermabrasion really are beyond the technical differences between the CO2 laser and micro-crystal spray.
The simplest difference would be the effectiveness of Fraxel laser resurfacing against more severe skin problems such as deep scars, wrinkles and wounds. Microdermabrasion is much more affordable but also a higher risk procedure skin it actually takes off some skin. Fraxel on the other hand actually causes impact to the deep layer of the skin so the body can repair itself naturally from the inside out.
How Fraxel CO2 Lasers Work
The top layer of the skin is not damaged as the laser penetrates into the deep layers causing superficial damage. The treated area is actually only “fractionally” affected so that the undamaged cells around it can begin to naturally repair the cells damaged by the laser. This creates a controlled healing process for the skin to repair itself. As the deep layer of the skin is repairing, the top layer of the skin naturally sloughs off over time and is replaced with new skin cells.
The heat of the laser also promotes collagen production for healthier looking skin. Collagen gives the skin its elasticity as well as fullness which reduce wrinkles and fine lines.
How Microdermabrasion Works
Using a fine crystal spray, microdermabrasion is a very delicate way of sandblasting the top layer of the skin. This removes old and dead skin at the surface exposing younger, healthier skin underneath. The problem is that it leaves the skin exposed so patients have to take care to avoid direct sunlight and certain topical creams that might cause a reaction. It is a higher risk procedure because taking off top skin cells can leave the area open to infections although cases are rare.
Candidates and Treatable Conditions
Fraxel laser resurfacing can help candidates looking to correct age spots, acne scars, sun damage or reduce wrinkles. It is also effective in treating patients with melasma which are brown patches that can appear on both sides of the face around the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead and upper lip. Not only is the laser used for facial skin it can also treat skin of the neck, chest or hands.
Microdermabrasion is most effective when treating skin in the early stages of aging and has been shown to be effective for some teens. It is effective for any skin tones and can reduce mild acne scarring, correct hyperpigmentation, improve texture. Microdermabrasion also improves the texture of the treated skin and reduces large or clogged pores. It is not for patients with severe acne scarring, sunburns, advanced aging, extensive hyperpigmentation, skin that are sensitive or skin disorders.
The cost of Fraxel will run around $400 to $1,000 per session and depends on the size of the treatment area. One advantage is that Fraxel only requires a single session to complete the treatment so it is less intrusive on the patient’s schedule.
Microdermabrasion could require up to 6 or more sessions and cost about $75 to $150 per session. The actual cost will depend on the provider’s qualifications. A plastic surgeon or dermatologist is more qualified to diagnose conditions and recommend the appropriate treatment. You can expect doctors to generally charge more than an esthetician or RN.