Beauty Skincare

Get Rid of Pigmentation?

January 14, 2016

fraxel-dual-laser-for-pigmentation-reviewIn my seven years of blogging, today’s post is probably one of the most uncomfortable ones I’ve ever done! I’m showing you my naked skin, sans foundation or coverup! Going foundation free is not something you’d catch me doing willingly! For years, I’ve suffered with quite prominent and very annoying pigmentation/ melasma on my face and I tell you, it ain’t a pretty sight! But the good news is, I’ve finally found a way to get it reduced (and hopefully, in time, removed completely) thanks to a little magic wand, better known as the Fraxel DUAL Laser; a treatment available at Skin Renewal.

Today’s post is a long one, but it’s is all about my treatment and my struggle with pigmentation (which I’ve had for years)! If you’re looking for something that works, then be sure to keep reading and I’ll tell you all about it and show you my before and after pics. Even though I’m dreading posting them.

Fraxel treatments are not a new thing, but the introduction of the latest Fraxel DUALincorporates 2 lasers in one and promises to show results in as little as 2-3 treatments.

The addition of the 1927 Thulium laser ensures that all forms of pigmentation and pre cancerous skin lesions can be treated, while the upgraded 1550nm Restore wavelength targets skin texture to improve deep lines and acne scars.

These two lasers can be used together or separately, depending on your needs. My needs were specific to Pigmentation, so only the 1927 Thulium laser was used to target the superficial patches of pigmentation on my face.

In a nutshell, Fraxel DUAL is an FDA approved treatment that can and will help to resurface the skin from the inside out. The best part is, that it shows instant results (mine were after 3 days) and the downtime is very short. Plus over time, the results are said to be cumulative following 2-3 treatments with the end result showing after 2-3 months.

My struggle with pigmentation started when I was around 25. I went to Greece on holiday, and when I came back I had a nice souvenir – a pigmented upper lip that was, as you can imagine not the best thing for a Greek girl to sport! It was so bad in fact, that I actually didn’t know what it was at first, and ended up waxing the living daylights out of my upper lip (thinking it was peach fuzz), so much so that I managed to make it worse.

I went to see a dermatologist in Durban, who concocted a hydroquinone cream that worked well at reducing the appearance. A couple years later, I’d say when I was probably 27 or 28, it came back. This time with a vengeance! And it managed to find a new residence on my face. While there was a little hint of pigmentation on my upper lip, it was now prominently placed on my forehead in a massive patch that spread down to my brow bones and cheeks.

I blame hormones, since nobody else in my family has pigmentation issues. I’m the (un)lucky one!

I tried another round of hydroquinone and while it made it slightly better, it was still pretty bad! After years of trying to find a cure, I just gave up and worked around the pigmentation – covering it up as best I could with makeup (and a lot of highlighting products added on top to reflect the light), but even then, the makeup wouldn’t always cover it completely.

Gradually, the pigmentation started getting worse, and piling on the makeup was becoming unbearable. I was fast becoming that cake-faced girl I thought I’d never be. I wouldn’t go anywhere without foundation (not even the beach or the gym). I hated how my naked face looked.

Then, I got an email from Skin Renewal that changed my world! It was titled Fraxel Dual – A Game Changer in the Aesthetics Industry and it was just what I needed to tackle this pigmentation once and for all.

Last week, I had my first Fraxel DUAL treatment at Skin Renewal SouthDowns in Irene, and after just one treatment,  I can honesty tell you gals, that this is the real deal! If you suffer with horrid pigmentation, there is no reason to just live with it, because help is out there and besides targeting those patches, your skin will look and feel amazing – just like new!

Four weeks before my treatment, I had a consult with Dr Lestonn Lawn who did my treatment. He is an amazing Doctor who knows his stuff when it comes all things skin and ageing. It’s very rare that you book an hour’s consult with any doctor and actually get an hour of his/ her time. Dr Lawn answered all my 101 questions and helped me understand what was going to happen and what I should expect from my Fraxel DUAL laser treatment.

Dr Lawn also consults at Skin Renewal in Brooklyn, Fourways, Morningside, Rivonia Village and Bedfordview, so if you’re thinking about trying this treatment, I’d highly recommend him.

He also gave me a list of suggested skincare products to use for 4 weeks in order to “get my skin ready for the laser” and make the treatment work better. I chose to go with products mainly from SkinCeuticals, Filorga, Obagi and HelioCare, but today’s post is all about the Fraxel DUAL treatment, so I’ll do another post (probably next week sometime) focusing on the products as they were great!

Dr Lawn did my Fraxel DUAL procedure, assisted by Deone. As I write this post and look in the mirror, I’d have to say Dr Lawn is my new hero! He actually fixed me and I can’t tell you girls what having a clearer skin has done to boost my confidence.

I was terrified of the laser at first. I had read that it hurt, which I wont lie, it did, but it really wasn’t half as bad as what I had imagined. Plus I was nicely dosed on some pain meds and my face was numbed an hour before the procedure.

When the laser went on my skin, I almost felt relived as the pain (and I don’t tolerate pain at all) wasn’t that bad. I’d rate at about 3/10. After the second round of passes it went up to about a 7/10 because my skin was a little more tender. But you know what, I survived and I would do it again, especially now that I’ve seen the results.

The whole procedure, start to finish, took an hour, but I went in an hour before my treatment to get “prepped” with face numbing cream. I wasn’t bored while I waited as Deone stayed and chatted, while she massaged the numbing cream into my face – a nice little treat if I do say so myself!

Dr Lawn started with 4 passes. 4 Passes basically means, running the laser head 4 times (in different directions) on a certain area. So I had 4 passes on my forehead, 4 on the right side of my face, 4 on the chin area and 4 on the left side of my face. After that, he did a further 4 passes on each side, going over each of the four areas again. Even though it hurt, the pain wasn’t constant, unbearable pain – rather more of a discomfort and only while the laser was targeting that area. After the laser moved to a different area, it didn’t hurt at all.

It took my skin 2-3 days to recover, and it normalised after about 5 days. The first day post laser, I didn’t want to go anywhere, because my face was really red and blotchy. While it wasn’t sore, it just felt like a moderate sun burn, and I wanted to let it heal without loading any makeup over it. It still looked pretty bad but I was told to expect it to get worse before it gets better.

Throughout the first week, I used only my Filorga Neocica cream which is an amazing universal healing cream and Filorga Micellar Solution as a mild cleanser. No other skincare, other than loading on Sunscreen and staying far, far away from the sun.

I did a day by day diary from the day after the treatment, which I’ve documented below, but first, here’s a look at my face in all it’s pigmented glory without the help of foundation and concealers to cover it up. I took these photos just before my consult with Dr Lawn in November…

fraxel-dual-pigmentation-treatment-review

Seriously bad! I don’t think there was an area on my face that wasn’t covered in brown patches.

Since my pigmentation was so severe, if I’m honest, I didn’t think the laser would work. I’ve used so many topical “pigmentation creams” and nothing has worked like the Fraxel DUAL laser. It’s amazing!

But the good news is that the Fraxel DUAL laser worked wonders on my skin! While I will need more treatments (Dr Lawn recommended four treatments for me before we even started), I am really impressed with the end result after just one Fraxel Dual treatment.

Below are my before after pictures. I took both of these with the same camera, in the same place, and both shot in manual mode with the same camera settings to try and make them as accurate as possible.

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Can you see the difference? Look how much the pigmentation has broken up on my forehead, which was my biggest concern!

These days I wake up not dreading the mirror. Yes my pigmentation is still there, but trust me when I tell you it’s 100, actually no, 1000 times better than it was. When I wear foundation I almost forget I have it at all!

I can’t wait to see what happens after four laser treatments.

forhead-closeup

Besides the reduction in pigmentation/ melasma on my biggest problem area, my forehead, the condition of my skin has also improved a ton after the Fraxel Dual. On the closeup before pic above you can see fine lines on my forehead, but on the after pic, nothing. YAY!

When I went for my first consult in November, my skin condition was even worse, but the skincare regime I’ve been following definitely helped. Even so, the laser went beyond to create amazing results.

solarized

Check out how my face looks when I apply the Solarized filter. Here you can really tell how much lighter the pigmented area has become. Also, can you see my fine line and skin texture in the top pic on the left? Now look at the after. Pretty amazing right?!

Here’s a quick look at my face on the Day of my Fraxel DUAL, how I looked just after the treatment and then 7 days following the treatment.

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On the left is a pic I took the day of my Fraxel Dual treatment. I used my DSLR and wanted to take a pic using my iPhone just before, but I was running super late. The middle pic is my “walking dead” picture (literally)! I took it with my iPhone’s front facing camera about 30 minutes after my Fraxel Dual on the way home. Like my Zorro tan? The pic on the right is what my skin looked like 7 days after the Fraxel Dual treatment. I took this selfie on the iPhone front facing camera on the way to my follow up consult with Dr Lawn. All three pics I have no foundation on. In the first and last pic, I only have a bit of eye makeup – because, why not! lol

Was it worth it? Absolutely! I would highly recommend this treatment if you’re worried about pigmentation. I did the whole face, but you can target specific areas as well, so don’t just live with it, Fraxel DUAL will work on you!

Day-by-Day Fraxel DUAL Diary

Post Fraxel Dual – Day 1

Hello pinky face! My skin is very pink, but on the plus side, it’s not lumo red as I had expected. It looks a lot like I’ve been sitting in the sun for far too long and it actually feels just like sunburn. It’s not painful at all. It doesn’t itch, but it does feel a little tender.

Its about two hours after I’ve had my treatment. I just woke up from a nice power nap (thanks pain meds :)) and the hubby’s made dinner! Woo hoo! My skin is still red and ‘stripey’, it looks like someone has mowed over it. On closer inspection, the areas where I have pigmentation looks like it’s got tiny little, dark brown pin holes. I hope that’s the pigment coming out.

Post Fraxel Dual – Day 2

No change in the redness and those little pin holes (which are called “bronzing” – thanks Google) are really starting to freak me out. I hope they don’t decide to stay. My skin is still tender and when I run my hands over it, it still feels like sandpaper.

It’s pink and blotchy and I’m still sporting a nice Zorro tan. Eeek!

It’s around 1pm and I’ve noticed my skin is starting to flake off. My face isn’t itchy or uncomfortable, but I’ve been fighting the urge to rub the flakes off. Let it heal and don’t pick said Dr Lawn, so I’m doing just that – or trying to at least!

It’s around 4pm and my flaking is still going on. I washed my face with a facecloth and water, and noticed dead skin cells on the cloth. Eeeew. I’ve been loading up on my Neocica cream throughout the day. The inside portion of my face is already looking smoother. I can see pink new skin – this gives me hope. The bronzing on my forehead and outer cheeks is still prominent, but they will probably take longer because they were seriously damaged.

Post Fraxel Dual – Day 3

I’m starting to get really excited now! It looks like this laser may be the answer to get rid of this horrid face! I still have bronzing on my forhead and the outer areas of my face, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel. My face hasn’t been sore or uncomortable, but today it feels like it needs a good scrub, but I will refrain. After washing my face at night, my facecloth is full of dead skin cells and I’ve been cleaning it so gently. I can see the glowing skin underneath, can it come out already so we can be friends? I probably could have worn makeup today and gone out, but I don’t need to so I’m just going to keep indoors and let my skin breathe.

Post Fraxel Dual – Day 4

This morning, I woke up to beautiful, glowing, healthy skin. I can’t believe it but my pigmentation has drastically reduced. It’s still there, but it’s 100 times better than it was and I feel so much more confident that this treatment is the real deal. Nothing else has ever worked this well, this quickly and all this after one treatment!

The pinky face has also gone down a lot today and my skin is glowing like a new born baby’s bottom. I’m excited! My skin feels like someone else’s! Imagine that! – me, without having to worry about makeup. Awesome! Never in my wildest dreams did I expect such phenomenal results. Fraxel is amazing! I’m in love with it! But, I’m also scared to get too attached to this new skin in case the pigmentation comes back. I hope it doesn’t, but I’m going to stick with the routine and definately book a second treatment. Dr Lawn suggested four, and if this is what my results are after only one, I’m sold! I just wish it didn’t take so long between treatments, but Dr Lawn did say it’s a slow process and if we do it right and let the skin heal it will be a success.

Post Fraxel Dual – Day 5

Skin looks amazing! it feels incredible and I’m confident that I’ll be able to kiss this pigmentation goodbye for good. I honestly didnt think this would work. I thoguth it would be another hyped up “promise” that doesn’t deliver, but I’m so glad I was wrong. I just thank my lucky stars for the email I got introducing me to Fraxel.

At this point, pigmentation aside, I feel like I need to make a Fraxel Dual treatment an annual thing after my 4 treatments, just to keep it up and I love the feel of amazing soft skin!

Picture Diary

Now I’m really going to scare you with the pictures that follow. I took photos every day following my treatment, so that you see my experience and what my skin went through to achieve these great results. All of these were shot in my bathroom at roughly the same time of day, using the back facing camera of my iPhone, so brace yourselves for no imperfection going unnoticed!

fraxel-dual-cheek-progression

This is my cheek area… Day 1 post laser, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5. Look how the skin started to normalise around day 3. The bronzing (brown patches) was most prominent the evening after my Fraxel Dual as well as Day 1 and Day 2 post, but by Day 3 it had started falling off.

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My forehead was my biggest concern area. I must be honest, when the bronzing started I freaked out a little, terrified that the laser had made it worse. But finally on day 4 when they came off, I was feeling much better. As you can tell, I still need more treatment to tackle that area, but it’s made a world of difference.

If you have pigmentation that bothers you, or even sunspots that you’re sick of covering up, be sure to consider Fraxel DUAL. You can book a consult with a doctor at any Skin Renewal branch nation wide. They offer an amazing service that combines skincare with medical advice, so you know you’re sure to get the best of both worlds!

The girls at Skin Renewal Southdown’s were really great. Following up before and after my treatment, making sure I was ok and they were always happy and ready to answer any of my questions – and I had a lot 🙂

I’ve booked treatment number two for mid Feb and I really hope it’s as effective as this one. For the second one, I’m leaning towards trying out both lasers (4 passes of each instead of 8 passes using just one laser head) as I really want to see the effect of the upgraded 1550nm Restore wavelength laser on my nasolabial folds (mouth lines). Maybe Fraxel can make me look 25 again! Haha! But seriously, jokes aside, Fraxel DUAL is amazing! Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this treatment.

Can February come already?!

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  • Irina Doman

    That’s amazing! It looks so much better already. Can’t wait to see the final result!

    • Thanks Irina! It feels so much better to look at my skin these days 🙂
      Wish Feb would come already so I can get the second one done x

  • adoringdress

    Yeah, same here, waiting for the final result.

    http://www.adoringdress.co.za

  • Sarah Booyens

    Wow, incredible results after just one treatment. Really looking forward to seeing the final result. Brilliant post Dimi x

  • Mary

    Very impressive!! Thanks for sharing….can’t wait to see the second stage!

    • It’s an amazing treatment. I cant wait for my next round of Fraxel 🙂

      • jan

        Hi Dimi, how did your follow ups go?

        • Hi Jan. They’ve been going really well! Going for my fourth and final one today so holding thumbs I can kiss the pigmentation goodbye and good riddance.

          I’ve done posts following each of the treatments. You can keep up with them and see the results after each Fraxel Dual via this archive link: http://www.stylescoop.co.za/tag/fraxel-dual-laser/