Laser Fraxel treatment produces side effects. The intensity and duration of your side effects depends on the treatment aggressiveness and your individual healing characteristics. Generally, patients who are treated more aggressively experience more intense and longer lasting side effects; however, some patients who receive a less aggressive treatment may experience side effects of greater-than-expected magnitude, while others receiving more aggressive treatments may experience side effects of less-than-expected magnitude. Notify your provider if the severity of your side effects become a problem for you. 


  • Immediately after the treatment, you will experience redness, swelling, and sometimes, pinpoint bleeding. You will notice most of the swelling on the first morning after treatment, particularly under the eyes. Swelling usually lasts 2 - 3 days. To minimize swelling, do the following:
    • Apply cold compresses to the treatment area for 10 minutes of every hour on the day of treatment until you go to bed.
    • Sleep elevated the first night. Use as many pillows as you can tolerate.
  • Heat sensation can be intense for the following 2 - 3 days. Occasionally, oozing can occur in isolated areas for a few days as well. 
  • Over the next few days, redness may worsen. Swelling may be insignificant and cause some discomfort.
  • You may also notice that your skin appears bronzed or little dark dots will appear on the treated area. Your skin may feel dry, peel, or flake. You may notice a "sandpaper" texture a few days after treatment. This is the treated tissue working its way out of your body as new fresh skin regenerated. 
  • This dead skin is a normal result of laser treatment and should slough 3 - 4 days after the treatment. Most patients complete this process 5 - 7 days after a treatment on the face. (On off-face areas such as hands/arms, where healing is slower, the process may take up to 2 weeks).
  • Once the sloughing is complete, you may notice some pinkness over the next few weeks. Most redness resolves during the first week of treatment, but a rosy "glow" can remain for several weeks. If you wish, you can apply makeup to minimize the redness. 
  • Some patients have also experienced itching.


Your after treatment skin care regimen is tailored to the treatment you received today. Follow the instructions below:

Immediately After Treatment

Use a bland moisturizer (i.e. Cetaphil cream) or a very thin layer of petrolatum ointment (i.e. Aquaphor). Use petrolatum ointment to cover any area with oozing and keep moist. Use of icepacks help alleviate the heat sensation. You may also cleanse your face with a mild cleanser.

First Few Days

Continue cleansing and moisturizing over the next few days. Once the sloughing starts, please allow your skin to heal and DO NOT scrub, rub, or use exfoliants. Keep clothing away from treated body areas as much as possible to avoid irritation. 

First Week of Healing

Keep treated area clean; avoid smoking; excessive alcohol consumption, excessive exercise, perspiring, swimming, or exposing skin to heat and sun.

Skin Care Products

All of your skin care products should be non-irritating and non-clogging for the first week or so after a Fraxel treatment. Examples of brands that offer very gentle and inexpensive products that are ideal to use are Aveeno, Cetaphil, Dove, and Neutrogena.

Scrubs, Toners, Glycolic Acid, and Retin A

Your skin will be sensitive for the first week or so after treatment. Do not use products that will cause irritation during this time. Do not use abrasive scrubs, toners, or products that contain glycolic acids or Retin A. Read the product labels.

Normal Skin Care Regimen

Once the sloughing is complete, you may resume your routine skin care and makeup products as long as they are tolerable to you.


It is very important that you use sunscreen to prevent sun damage to the skin. Sunscreen should offer broadband protection (UVA and UVB) and have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more. Once sloughing is complete, use sunscreen daily for at least 3 months after your last treatment. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. If direct sun exposure is necessary, wear a hat and clothing that covers the treated area. Your practice of diligent sunscreen use may lower the risk of laser-induced hyperpigmentation (i.e. darker color).


Remember that peeling and/or flaking is normal during the healing process. Therefore, the moisturizer you use should be non-irritating and non-clogging, or else you could develop breakouts. During the healing period, your normal moisturizer may be too occlusive so consider products from the brands listed above. Instead of using two separate products, use moisturizers that contain SPF 30+. Reapply whenever your skin feels dry.

Bleaching Creams

Discontinue use of your bleaching cream while your skin is tender.

Skin Care Regimen

Resume your normal skin care regimen when your skin has fully healed.

Cold Sores

If you have a history of cold sores, ask your provider about care.

Abnormal Healing

If you notice any blisters, cuts, bruises, crusting/scabs, areas of raw skin, ulcerations, active bleeding, increased discomfort or pain, pigment changes (lighter or darker than usual complexion), or any other problems, please contact us as soon as possible.


Post treatment healing varies from patient to patient. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the office at (949) 646-7546.