Uncovering the Benefits of Fractional Laser Treatments

In the world of laser skin technology, a time-capsule trip back to the early aughts shows dermatologists at a crossroads: attempts to adjust more invasive approaches were increasingly recognized as failing to bring meaningful improvements. Enter the fractional laser: I think of it as the “Goldilocks’ solution”, offering just the right amount. These lasers can provide the skin restoration that patients want, without the level of downtime or side effects of earlier techniques.”

Fractional lasers stand out due to their design, which purposefully exposes only a portion – or “fraction” – of the patient’s skin to lasers, leaving intermediary areas untouched.

Less really can be more. The fractional approach harnesses our body’s innate healing capability, with untreated areas facilitating faster, more effective skin restoration.

Since their launch in 2004, when the Fraxel®-brand laser was introduced, fractional lasers have exploded, becoming the number-one cosmetic laser skin treatment. More than 400,000 procedures were performed in 2016 alone, according to The American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Fractional lasers turn back the skin’s clock, so to speak. Laser beams trigger a rapid healing and restoration process. That healing process can eliminate damaged skin – even below the surface – by causing it to be expelled and replaced with new cells.

I offer the following information regarding the unique potential of fractional lasers:

Uncovering 5 Truths About Fractional Laser Skin Treatments

  1. It’s not just an anti-aging treatment: The ability to replace damaged skin with new growth makes fractional laser treatments an option for different kinds of skin damage. Yes, it can address wrinkles and age spots, but it also can help with other damage, for example scarring due to acne or surgery, as well as with stretch marks.
  1. It’s compatible with all skin types: I think it’s helpful for patients to know that their skin type doesn’t make fractional lasers off limits. At this point, we have research that shows these lasers work for different skin tones, as well as for sensitive skin. Of course, regardless of skin type, patients need to carefully follow their doctor’s pre- and post-treatment skin care recommendations to support the best results.
  1. It’s for more than just the face: When we consider the different types of skin damage fractional lasers can address. it makes sense that they offer an option for wherever skin restoration in desired – not only on the face.


  1. It can be customized to meet different patients’ needs: Since it was introduced, fractional laser technology has continued to evolve. Today, patients can choose from a range of options, from more superficial treatments to those that can address deeper levels of skin damage. Patients can work with their doctors to design an approach that best meets their needs and their lifestyles, in terms of recovery time. The growing range of fractional laser treatments further underscores the importance of carefully choosing a doctor with expertise.
  1. It can be combined with other treatments: Increasingly,dermatologists are using different skin treatments together to maximize results. We’re seeing this with fractional lasers, which can be combined with other procedures, for example, with intense pulsed light treatments.

Fractional lasers, have brought about what’s been called a “renaissance” in the field of cosmetic skin lasers. As a doctor, it’s extremely rewarding to see what these treatments can do for patients.

Sonoa Au, MD, is a board-certified physician and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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