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Fractional laser resurfacing

Fractional lasers treat a fraction of the skin at any time.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: June 26, 2012

One of the key differences between laser types is between fractional and non-fractional lasers. Non-fractional lasers affect the entire surface of the skin. Fractional lasers, on the other hand, affect only parts of the targeted area. This reduces healing time (because not all skin in the target area is affected by the laser) without significantly impacting the cosmetic effects.

Damage to the skin is limited with fractional lasers because the light is separated out into tiny bits, sort of like a checkerboard. Fraxel (which includes variations like re:store and re:fine) is one of the most commonly used fractional lasers.

Fractional laser brands and conditions they treat:

  • Palomar Lux1540 (1540 nm) - stretch marks, skin tone and texture, acne scars, surgical scars, and melasma (skin darkening due to pregnancy)
  • The Lux1440 (1440 nm) - shallow scars
  • Reliant Fraxel SR (1550 nm) - pigmented lesions, like age spots, sun spots, and melasma
  • Reliant Fraxel re:fine (1410 nm) - freckles and sunspots, mild to moderate periorbital wrinkles, acne scars, surgical scars, and skin discoloration
  • Reliant Fraxel re:store (1550 nm) - freckles and sunspots, mild to moderate periorbital wrinkles, acne scars, surgical scars, and skin discoloration
  • Cynosure Affirm (1320 - 1440 nm) - wrinkles, scars, pigmentation problems, redness, and age spots

What It's Good For

Fractional non-ablative lasers, like Fraxel, increase collagen production in the skin. Fractional non-ablative lasers can be used on most parts of the body. Fractional non-ablative lasers (at 1440, 1540, and 1550 nm) can be adjusted for all skin types for the treatment of periorbital wrinkles and lines, fine to moderate wrinkles around the mouth, shallow acne scars, and sunspots and freckles. They can also improve the skin's texture. Though fractional non-ablative lasers may be used for deeper wrinkles, they are better suited for those that or mild or moderate (glabellar lines in particular are resistant to these machines).

Recommended Uses
Name Description Cost
Acne scars Fractional non-ablative lasers pass over the skin’s surface, causing limited damage to the exterior while increasing collagen production below its surface. Fractional lasers distribute...more Sessions can cost $750 to $1,500.
Age spots Fractional lasers treat a fraction of the skin at any time and can be used to treat age spots. Fractional lasers include non-ablative and ablative lasers made by a variety of manufacturers....more Treatment costs are between $1,500 and $3,000.
Crow's feet Laser resurfacing is an option for removing static crow’s feet lines (that is, crow’s feet that remain even when the muscle is not in motion.) One option is the use of non-ablative...more Non-ablative treatments cost $250-$500 a pop.
Neck wrinkles Fractional non-ablative lasers scatter the light into checkerboard-like fragments. Since not all skin is affected, healing time is shortened to two days. Still, redness, peeling, and...more Fraxel re:fine (a C02 laser) and Fraxel re:store (an erbium laser) are popular fractional...more
Stretch marks Fractional lasers target stretch marks that are fully developed and are white or light in color. Fractional resurfacing is a selective treatment, that leaves the surface of the skin...more Stretch mark treatment with Fraxel re:pair is priciest, and costs $3,000 to $5,000.
Wrinkles Fractional non-ablative lasers are best suited for periorbital wrinkles, like crow’s feet, and fine to moderate wrinkles near the mouth. Fractional non-ablative lasers will not reduce...more Fractional non-ablative laser treatments cost $750 to $1,500.

Who it works for: With care, these lasers can be used on people of any skin type (Fitzpatrick I - VI).

Find experts who offer fractional laser resurfacing near you