Welcome, you’re in the perfect place to ask your Thermage vs Fraxel question. But before I go on, let me introduce you to our Nurse Jane Lewis; she is the IDEAL person to talk about this subject because not only has she got years upon years of experience using both the Thermage and Fraxel devices, but she was also actually the trainer for both devices in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Chances are, anyone who offers this treatment in those countries were trained how to use it by Jane. Who better to chat to?
Fraxel is a laser skin treatment that helps to correct the look and feel of your skin and enhances your skin’s health. It literally refreshes and regenerates your skin cells from the inside out. Fraxel laser is a ‘fractional laser’ meaning that it targets a fraction of your skin to resurface at a time.
The Fraxel Dual laser that we have here at our skin clinic is a non-ablative laser that has two different wavelengths. The 1550nm wavelength is ideal for textural problems such as wrinkles and scarring, whereas the 1927nm wavelength helps with skin pigmentation such as sunspots, general hyperpigmentation and sun damage. You can be treated by both of these wavelengths during your treatment should you need it. We tell you more in our blog ‘what is Fraxel laser’ if you want to know a bit more detail.
Fraxel laser can be used on the face, neck, chest and body. Fraxel can also treat close to the eyes but not on the actual eyelids themselves.
Yes, Fraxel laser is one of my go-to treatments for scars. It can really improve those indented acne scars as well as macular scarring [flat brown marks left after a cut or skin trauma] and surgical scars.
Fraxel is also a wonderful pigmentation treatment. It can really fade specific hyperpigmented blemishes such as brown sunspots, as well as clearing and evening out the entire skin tone which can become a little dull and uneven, especially if you’ve had some sun damage.
Additionally, Fraxel laser can be used to smooth lines, wrinkles and crepy skin. I tend to think of Fraxel as my time machine because it allows me to help reverse the many years of sun damage that have accumulated.
Sun damage is one of our skin’s worst enemies, it really has so much to answer for-uneven pigmentation, dullness, thin skin and all the other signs of skin ageing you can think of. Then there is of course the more dangerous impact that the sun has on your skin such as skin cancer and precancerous skin lesions. The Fraxel laser can actually effectively treat precancerous skin lesions called Actinic Keratosis.
Fraxel helps to improve what is currently happening with your skin, so for example, if we are treating sun damage and pigmentation today it does not prevent you from getting further damage and sun-induced pigmentation in a years’ time, for example. As with many aspects of skincare, your genetic makeup will impact the duration of your results; those with fairer skin and hair tend to see skin discolouration quicker than those with darker skin and hair.
The same is true for lines and wrinkles. The Fraxel laser is almost taking your skin back in time by softening these signs of ageing, however, it does not stop time so after the treatment, your skin will continue the ageing process, all be it from a better starting point than when you first walked into the clinic!
There are some things that you should do to help maintain your Fraxel results. I strongly recommend using a daily physical sunscreen of at least 30SPF to help you to maintain your results. I’d also advise practising sun safety such as wearing wide-brimmed hats and so on. You could also consider maintenance with the ‘baby Fraxel’ treatment- a gentle laser called Clear + Brilliant from the makers of Fraxel, which offers a fractional laser treatment that is less intense than the Fraxel.
No. Fraxel will not cause skin cancer. It is a safe treatment for all skin colours and can actually treat precancerous skin spots.
The Fraxel laser can cause some tightening of the skin because it’s stimulating new collagen production which will help to soften wrinkles and smooth crepiness. I would use Thermage over Fraxel if the skin required lifting, however.
At our skin clinic, we will ensure that your skin is numbed with a topical cream before the treatment so what you should feel during the treatment itself is likened to warm scratches. Of course, this is totally subjective as some people find it more comfortable than others, but I’ve never come across someone who had been put off by the sensation with the use of a topical anaesthetic cream.
You will feel the Fraxel treatment head gently running across the area of skin you require treating and the machine makes a little beeping sound throughout the session.
Following the treatment, your skin is usually pink or red. It’s often likened to the look and sensation of sunburn. There may also be some mild swelling in the treated tissues. This subsides after about 24-36 hours and two to four days post-treatment the skin gradually starts to feel rough, a little bit like sandpaper. If you have your pigmentation treated, your skin may become a little darker or ‘bronzed’ looking, which is very normal.
The sandpapery phase is usually managed well with a simple, light moisturising cream. Generally, around four to five days post-treatment the treated skin may start to flake and gently peel, again this is managed really well by applying moisturiser. It’s very important not to pick at any peeling because you may cause damage.
One of our clients documented her treatment recovery following her Fraxel laser treatment, which you can read about here.
It’s important to know that not all fractional lasers are equal, that’s why I bought Fraxel into our skin clinic. There are, unfortunately, some people who say that they’re providing a Fraxel treatment but they’re providing a just fractional laser treatment. Fraxel was the first non-ablative fractional skin resurfacing treatment so it’s a well-known and trusted device.
If you wish to check for yourself that the laser your chosen clinic is using is truly a Fraxel laser you can ask to see the device prior to treatment. For reference, if you want to see what a true Fraxel device looks like, we’ve provided a photo of our Fraxel laser in our clients Fraxel treatment journey blog here.
We provide the Fraxel Dual laser treatment and are based in St. Albans, Hertfordshire. We have clients who travel in from London, the Midlands and even as far as the Middle East for our expertise and treatments.
Besides being one of my all-time favourite treatments, Thermage is a non-surgical skin tightening treatment that uses radiofrequency technology to stimulate your skin to repair and regenerate itself to treat loose skin and wrinkles.
Much like the Fraxel treatment, it can be used on the face, neck, chest and body. It is also safe to treat on the eyelids with the Thermage, which is great news for hooded, crepy, ageing eyelids!
That leads me to my next question…
Yes, it is safe to treat the eyelids with Thermage. In fact, it’s one of the most frequent areas that I treat with Thermage at our skin tightening clinic because hoody, heavy-looking eyelids are such a common concern as our skin ages.
Some in-the-know clients have Thermage as a preventative treatment to help stop the need for more dramatic correction further down the line. I’m in my 60s and I know that having Thermage eye treatments throughout the years has so far prevented me from wanting a blepharoplasty to remove excess skin from around my eyes.
We have an entire blog dedicated to treating droopy eyelids with Thermage, should you like more information.
Thermage is used to tighten the skin on the neck, yes. The neck is actually one of the first places we start to show signs of skin aging so it’s definitely a popular request.
No. You skin will continue the natural ageing process after the treatment. At our Thermage clinic, we find that most clients request a repeat treatment approximately a year and a half later. As with all treatments this depends on the individual and their lifestyle.
I always strongly suggest using a physical SPF of 30 or higher and practicing safe sun behaviour, exactly as I do with Fraxel laser. The sun is such a major factor in skin ageing, it’s important to consider this for maintaining any treatment results.
Much like the Fraxel treatment, skin tightening treatments such as Thermage correct the signs of ageing present at the time of treatment, but it doesn’t stop time and the natural ageing process will continue after the treatment.
No, Thermage is a safe, FDA cleared treatment that does not cause cancer.
The Thermage treatment does not require the use of topical numbing cream prior, so you will come along to the clinic and go straight into your treatment without having to factor that in.
At our Thermage clinic, we use Thermage CPT. The CPT stands for Comfort Pulse Technology which puts the ‘gate control theory’ into action. During the Thermage treatment the device distracts the brain with sensations that are different to warmth that the radiofrequency technology creates in the skin. In this case, the Thermage uses gentle vibrations and cooling bursts to supress any potential discomfort.
Additionally, the Thermage device has an in-built safety mechanism that will not allow further radiofrequency energy to be discharged into the skin if the skin has reached a certain temperature.
During the treatment, you will feel a cool sensation wash over the treatment area as you practitioner glides the hand piece over your skin. You will then feel a light pressure as your practitioner gently presses the Thermage handpiece onto your skin to discharge the radiofrequency into the area. As this happens, the device makes an little musical sound whilst the Radiofrequency is emitted.
The practitioner will then move the hand piece across your treatment area and repeat the process until the total energy is spent that your unique Thermage treatment tip has been preloaded with by the manufacturer. Throughout the process, you may feel some intermittent gentle vibrations and a cooling sensation in the treatment area.
Immediately after the treatment, your skin may look flushed where it’s been treated and this usually subsides within 24 hours, if not a few hours. As the Thermage treatment does not break the skin, you can apply a tinted moisturiser on the area if you like, however most Thermage clients aren’t too concerned by this mild pinkness.
This is designed to be a single treatment so you will not need to come back for further treatments.
As with the Fraxel laser treatment, Thermage is one of the ‘big names’ when it comes to radiofrequency so do feel entitled to ensure you’re getting what you ask for by seeing the device. For comparison, our Thermage CPT device features throughout our video which you can see here (and learn more about Thermage skin tightening!)
We are a Thermage Clinic and provide Thermage skin tightening treatments (Hertfordshire) and have clients who travel across the UK and Europe for our expertise and treatments.
It’s not a like-for-like comparison as both treatments offer different outcomes.
Thermage is best if you have skin laxity and want to tighten and retract your skin to lift areas such as eyelids or sagging jowls.
Fraxel is best if you have textural issues you want to smooth, such as scars, or if you want a more even skin tone as you can treat hyperpigmentation and sun damage.
Both treatments are excellent at what they do and are market-leaders but it’s all about what you want to get out of the treatment. A practitioner will be able to offer you a consultation to thoroughly assess your skin and discuss all the treatments that may help you so that you can then make an informed choice about what treatment is best for you.
If you would like a consultation to see if Fraxel or Thermage may be right for your skin, or to discuss another of our pigmentation treatment, scarring treatment or non-surgical skin tightening treatment, please do contact our friendly team who’ll love to tell you more.
Disclaimer: This blog is not to be used for diagnostic purposes. We are all unique which means that our results, recovery and suitability for any type of treatment will vary. Always seek the advice of a professional should you have any health or cosmetic concerns or to discuss treatments specifically for you.
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