My ProFractional Laser Treatment Experience
Growing up, I spent my summer days covered in oil and soaking up hours of sunshine. From age 20 to 24, I suffered from severe cystic acne that left my cheeks, especially my left one, covered in a variety of scars. My skin went through a lot when I was growing up.
My scars softened over the years and improved, but they were still there, along with a good deal of sun damage. I began searching for a minimally invasive procedure that would help reduce my sun damage and decided to have a BBL (broad band light) treatment. Along with this treatment, my provider suggested a ProFractional laser resurfancing treatment for my acne scarring as well as some pigmentation on my upper lip.
For some reason, I went into the ProFractional treatment without doing any prior research (which is unusual for me). I strongly regret not reading reviews about this procedure and what exactly it would involve. I had no idea how much recovery time ProFractional would require – I assumed I would be red for a few days and that would be about it. I decided to only treat my cheeks and my upper lip since those were my problem areas.
In terms of pain, the procedure itself was not unbearable but it was not comfortable. I had numbing cream applied but I’m sure it wore off before the procedure was complete. Certain areas – near the eyes, above my lips, and near my nose - were especially tender. During the treatment, I could smell my skin burning.
After around 20 minutes or so, the procedure was over and I got to see myself in the mirror. I was extremely red, swollen, and had pinpoint bleeding all over my face. Very quickly, my face was throbbing and felt like it was on fire. I was given an ice-cold washcloth and put that over my face for about 10 minutes.
My skin stayed extremely hot and continued to throb for the next 10 to 12 hours or so. I took a couple of ibuprofen to help control the inflammation. When my family saw me after, they were shocked by how awful I looked.
For the next few days, my skin stayed bright red and had tiny dried spots of blood all over. I had to be extremely gentle when I washed my face and use only the gentlest products. The clinic gave me a special cream that was thick, pasty, and white. When I went outside, I slathered my face in the ointment, followed by a layer of pure zinc oxide sunscreen, and then a large sunhat. After a week, my skin was just about back to normal and I was at a point where I felt like I could go in public again without scaring anyone. My face also felt a bit more dry and tight than usual, but after week 1 that started to subside.
One week after the procedure I still have some redness, blotchiness and there are also some faint marks from the laser. Around week 3 the scars started to disappear but I was told it could take at least 6 months to really see the results.
About 6 weeks after the procedure all the redness had subsided but I still have faint grid and track marks in the areas I had treated. You can only see it if you are really looking closely so really, I am the only one who notices it.
It’s been over 7 months since I had the procedure and I can’t really notice any positive changes in my pigmentation, skin tone or scarring. My acne scars, if anything, got slightly more noticeable. I also still have little track marks or grid marks (they look like tiny little holes or blackheads) that the laser left on my cheeks. My skin also seems to be more sensitive now (I can barely use Retin A anymore b cause I peel so much from it). I realize that it can take two or three procedures to get the best results but I am not willing to go through this procedure again. ProFractional was far harsher than I expected and part of me felt like it did more damage than good.
For anyone interested in ProFractional laser resurfacing, I would strongly recommend doing as much research as possible prior to the treatment. I would also consider starting out with a less aggressive treatment (I’m not sure what settings my practitioner used for the laser but I’m assuming it was aggressive considering my recovery time) and looking into different lasers with great results and minimal downtime.