Laser therapies are used for a wide range of cosmetic and medical treatments from hair removal to eye surgery. A special kind of fractional laser, branded as Fraxel Re:store, is commonly used to repair skin blemishes such as acne scars, and to reduce the signs of ageing by reducing age spots, fine lines and sun damage. More recently, those who have undergone hair transplant surgery have started to realise the benefits of Fraxel for transplant scar reduction.
Fractional lasers work by targeting fractions of tissue at a time (hence the name), stimulating your natural healing process to replace damaged cells with fresh new cell tissue.
How is this relevant to scalp micropigmentation?
The scalp micropigmentation process is often used to camouflage scars from hair restoration procedures. The degree of camouflage is influenced by a number of factors including the texture and shade of the scar tissue, and whether the scarred area is raised, indented or flat. Fractional laser treatments can help in many cases by smoothing the scar and reducing the extent of indentation or protrusion. It is early days, but the evidence suggests that scars pre-treated with Fraxel are more likely to achieve a high level of concealment after SMP.
What results can be achieved?
It is important to recognise that Fraxel was not developed specifically for hair transplant scars, but for much smaller blemishes. Nevertheless, excellent results are possible if applied over a number of laser sessions. Even single sessions can provide noticeable benefits.
Fraxel is most effective when treating raised, uneven or textured scars. Indented scars can also benefit, although depending on the extent of indentation dermal fillers may be a better alternative. Fraxel can also help to remove pigmentation from the skin, so for the hair transplant recipient this means that a more even colour match between the skin and scar tissue is sometimes possible.
This procedure offers almost immediate results, and during the following 3 to 6 months as the skin continues to produce new collagen, progressive improvements are often seen. Any benefits experienced are usually permanent.
How much does Fraxel cost?
Standard Fraxel treatments for a single area start from around £600 in the United Kingdom, and $1000 in the United States. Costs in European territories vary enormously, so it is worth shopping around. Bear in mind that these are prices for regular applications of Fraxel, not hair transplant scars, so costs could be a little higher depending on the extent of scarring.
These prices are for a single session. Multiple sessions have a cumulative benefit, provided adequate healing time of 4-6 weeks is allowed between sessions. I have personally witnessed excellent results after a single session, although many people opt for 2-4 sessions for the best results.
Is Fraxel safe?
Fractional lasers are generally considered to be safe. Some swelling or flaking of the skin can occur during the first 2-3 days after a session, similar to a mild sunburn, but the side effects are usually minimal. Those with darker skin have an outside chance of experiencing hyper-pigmentation, although in the hands of a skilled laser technician, this is much less likely.
Any other considerations?
Reiterating my point above, Fraxel was not designed for transplant scars. For this reason, many clinics have little or no experience of using the technology in this way. Don’t be put off if you call a clinic and they sound unsure, just ask for a consultation and take it from there. If the clinic is not confident in their ability to treat you, that’s the time to try somewhere else.