Profractional laser vs Fraxel: which is better?

I've tried Fraxel laser once for my acne scars, and I was actually happy with the results. Unfortunately, some of the scars on my cheeks are still visible, and I'm inclined to give Profractional laser a chance. I would really appreciate your opinion on this matter. Should I stick with Fraxel?


F, 36, New Jersey

Tags:woman age 25-34 cheeks acne scarring scar laser

ProFractional Laser and Fraxel both represent forms of laser skin resurfacing. Laser resurfacing can effectively improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, even out hyperpigmentation and sun damage and diminish acne scars. The lasers behave similarly but differ, however, in their technical capabilities.


The ProFractional is an ablative laser, which means it can achieve a more dramatic result with less treatments, but greater downtime. It uses an Erbium laser. With a ProFractional laser treatment, you are likely to notice a significant improvement after one session.

The ProFractional laser removes the skin in a very specific way. If you think of the skin as comprising of layers, the ProFractional laser penetrates through the skin in a pixelated manner. It uses a very narrow column of light to pinpoint areas deep in the dermis. This means there is healthy skin left between the spots that have been targeted by the laser, so the healing process isn’t so extensive.

The penetration of the ProFractional laser is deep enough to stimulate new collagen production to heal the wound, which results in a skin tightening, smoothing effect of the skin overall. Healing from ProFractional laser treatment can take up to three weeks. More than one session may be required to heal deeper acne scars.

The Fraxel laser is a CO2 laser. It is meant to be received as a series of treatments, with optimal results derived from 5-6 treatments spaced out one month apart. It essentially targets the skin at a more superficial level than the ProFractional laser, targeting the entire outer layer of the epidermis. Redness may persist for a week after treatment, but the downtime for a Fraxel laser treatment is less than that of a ProFractional treatment.

Fraxel Laser is a more superficial laser than the Profractional as it doesn't penetrate the skin as deeply, and generally creates a milder form of redness similar to a bad sunburn after each treatment. This redness subsides over the course of a week.

As you have only tried Fraxel once, you could benefit from undergoing a full course of treatments. You mentioned that you were happy with the results, but that there was still acne scarring that you would like to address. If the scarring is not too deep or severe it is likely that further Fraxel treatments could successfully address these scars. Consult with a board-certified dermatologist or doctor to check the most suitable option for you to achieve the best results.

Profactional laser and Fraxel are different brands of fractional laser technologies.  They both do the same thing.  The fact that you got good results with the treatment is good.  The fact that you still have visible areas after the treatment is not uncommon.  You likely just need more treatments.  Both lasers are effective.  We prefer Sciton lasers as they are generally the most efficacious.  The most important thing is to go to cosmetic doctor with significant experience with laser procedures.