When You want to Eliminate Scars: Dermapen or Fraxel?
Most scars fade significantly over time. But some scars remain prominently visible. Are Dermapen or Fraxel potential options for you to consider to help you to minimise abdominal surgery incision scars, acne scars or facial scars? The answer is: YES!
But which is better for you to try – Fraxel Restore or Dermapen Microneedling? Read more to learn the pro’s and cons.
What makes a scar heal well versus troublesome?
The difference in how your scars heal depends on numerous factors. These are difficult to predict in advance. Some people have genetic traits that leave them vulnerable to scarring. Others engage in lifestyle factors that amplify the risk of having more visible scars (such as smoking, which highly impeded healing).
However, if its a surgical scar, an acne scar or a scar from an accident or injury, you can be sure our Team will work with you to minimise their appearance using a number of top modalities for scar reduction.
This may include Dermapen (micro-needling) or Fraxel Restore (laser treatments) to help ‘reduce’ the scar (minimise it’s appearance). Depending on the type of scar, how it’s healed and how prominent it appears (and how much it concerns you), then you might even opt for scar revision surgery by one of our Top Plastic Surgeons in Melbourne or Sydney.
Scars: What are the most common causes?
- Injuries, surgery incisions, chicken pox and acne can all leave their mark.
- Wounds, inflammation, injury, burns or infection can all form permanent scars.
A scar represents healing.
It’s essentially your skin’s restructuring of tissue where there has been penetration or injury to the epidermis and dermis. While scars are a natural part of the body’s healing process, it is possible that the skin discoloration common to scars – and the surface irregularity (textural changes) that they often involve – might seem to detract from your skin’s appearance.
Whilst many people don’t mind having scars, others want to try everything they can to rid themselves of them.
If you have a very prominent scar that is highly visible on your face, arms, belly or legs, for example – you might want to investigate your options for minimising them.
- Is your history written on the surface of your skin?
- Is there evidence of chicken pox when you were 4 or 5 years old?
- Did the skinning of your knees when you were 6 (or 50) – riding your bicycle – leave it’s mark?
- Are the remnants of having had acne still quite visible on your facial skin?
Time fades most scars in terms of colour; but as we age and as our skin loses collagen, some scars, especially acne scars, might seem to become deeper or more noticeable.
Would you like to achieve the fresh, smooth skin you had before scars staked their claim? Read below for information on safe, effective, non-surgical treatments available for skin rejuvenation.
Dermapen (Micro-needling) for Scars
There are several different types of microneedling products that professionals can use on your skin.
Whilst there is some variance in the flexibility of the tools and how they are utilised for skin rejuvenation or scar minimisation, they work on a similar principle: precisely controlled micro-injury to skin tissues to stimulate renewal, collagen restructuring and faster recovery.
Dermapen is one of the well-recognised top brands for micro-needling.
Introduced in the 1990s, Dermapen is the original micro-needling pen. How it works:
- Dermapen’s eleven micro-needles vertically pierce skin at high speed (very minimal discomfort due to being micro-fine in diameter as well as very quickly ‘applied’)
- The newly created micro-injuries (which are akin to very small & well-spaced micro-piercings) stimulate new collagen production at a cellular level.
What this means is: Your Skin is about to look noticeably BETTER!
These tiny punctures induce the body’s own natural healing ability – from within – without damaging the skin’s surface.
Micro-needling can help improve the appearance of some acne scars – even after just 2 sessions. Almost 95% of patients in one study saw improvement, and a majority rated the treatment as “excellent.”(1).
Beyond scarring, Dermapen treatments performed by a seasoned Dermal Clinician may also help improve the appearance of some stretch marks and even minor facial burns.
The best thing about Dermapen treatments that it is effective at rejuvenating skin but has a low risk of creating additional pigmentation problems
Micro-needling with a Dermapen carries a low risk of hyper-pigmentation problems and additional scarring, which makes it a suitable treatment choice for people who have sensitive skin, thin skin or skin with a naturally high-melanin content prone to discolouration problems or melasma.(1)
Clinical studies have consistently shown micro-needling to improve the appearance of:
- most types of scars
- superficial facial lines or early-stage wrinkles (1)
Treatments needed using Microneedling (Dermapen): Every Four Weeks for 4 to 6 Months
Resurfacing skin that has been marred by acne scarring usually takes from 4 to 6 or more Dermapen treatments; which are typically scheduled 4 weeks apart. Whilst not all stretch marks can be revised, for those that can benefit from Dermapen treatments, 4 to 8 treatments are typically scheduled at 4-week intervals; combined with other modalities where your Dermal Clinician feels these will assist you.
Dermapen: Recovery Time for Microneedling Skin Treatments
- After treatment with Dermapen, skin may appear a bit pink to reddish in colour by the 2nd day.
- There may be some swelling as well. This usually subsides by about day 3.
- After day 3 post your dermapen treatment, you can typically return to your normal skincare routine or ask about getting a Healite II treatment in the days after your microneedling skin treatment.
- You’ll typically see results after just one treatment, however the strongest results show up after several treatments because the skin needs time to go through a cycle of cellular renewal.
Most effective skin rejuvenation treatments work at the deeper levels of the skin. They help to encourage cellular renewal and new collagen production. This is done either through ‘renewal stimulation’ using a controlled ‘micro piercing’ (such as micro-needling) or light-based treatments (such as lasers). Some deeply penetrating cosmeceutical serums can also work on deeper layers of the skin. However, with techniques like microneedling, serums will typically stimulate renewal far more efficiently than just a topical approach alone, because they are penetrating to the deeper layers.
Because Dermapen causes less penetration to the external layer (or overall surface) of your skin, without heat, recovery time from microneedling is often faster than with a laser such as a Fraxel Restore treatment.
Fraxel vs Dermapen Microneedling
Fraxel is also an amazing rejuvenating technology for skin. It is a leading edge, safe and effective solution to correct skin damage left behind from either the sun, ageing, gravity, acne or other skin injuries, or even surgical incisions.
Fraxel, like the Dermapen, creates beneficially stimulating micro-injuries to the skin. But instead of using needles, Fraxel uses precise lasers that work below the surface of the skin to stimulate the production of collagen.
Fraxel is not new but the treatment protocols have continued to evolve. As one of the earliest commercial fractional laser used by dermatologists, Surgeons and Dermal Clinicians, Fraxel reaches deeper into the dermis, encouraging rapid healing by stimulating these layers in a controlled fashion.
So how effective is Fraxel?
Fraxel results vary from patient to patient, with most patients getting the optimal results after several treatments spaced our over several weeks and continuing for several months (with annual treatments not uncommon as ‘maintenance’ treatments).
- Some clinical findings report a 47% improvement in skin texture and up to 50% improvement in skin roughness and wrinkling when the skin has been treated by Fraxel.(2)
In addition to smoothing scars and as an excellent post-op treatment for recent surgery scars, Fraxel(2) can be a great treatment to help:
- reduce wrinkles
- improve skin tone and texture
- even out pigmentation like sunspots and age spots
Fraxel can also help reduce the appearance of post-surgical scars and may be suggested for post-op scar minimisation for some patients.
Skin Cancer Prevention: Fraxel?
- For people over the age of 60, Fraxel resurfacing has been clinically shown to reduce or prevent non-melanoma skin cancers related to ageing.
- It literally improves the way older skin reacts to the UVB rays, helping to keep the skin younger looking – and healthier – from the inside out.(3)
Fraxel Restore Dual
We offer Fraxel Restore Dual with 2 laser wavelengths — 1927nm and 1550nm — so treatment is customizable to meet your needs.
- Dramatic improvement to sun damaged and pigmented skin can be seen after just one treatment with the 1927nm.
- Generally, a course of 1 – 5 Fraxel 1927nm treatments spread 4 to 6 weeks apart provides the best results.
- For deeper conditions like surgical scars and acne, the 1550nm treatment is used for to restore and resurface your complexion.
- With Fraxel 1550nm, 3 – 5 treatments are usually necessary to achieve the smoothest possible skin.
Fraxel Discomfort and Recovery Time
Fraxel isn’t the most comfortable of treatments, but our Dermal Clinicians can suggest ways to ease the treatment journey including medical-grade topical numbing cream before your appointment.
- Down time and post-treatment effects will also vary from patient to patient.
- Some redness and swelling can be expected with a Fraxel treatment (usually Fraxel skin responses have more redness or swelling than you’d get from microneedling).
- You will need to be devoted to staying out of the sun and preventing inadvertent sun exposure during the healing period (but you should cover up and avoid the sun at ALL times for healthy skin as the sun is very damaging even if you’ve not just had a Fraxel treatment).
- Some patients say it’s akin to feeling like you’ve had a sunburn.
- Sometimes resting with icepacks really helps; and the burning or itching usually disappears within a few hours to a few days.
- Fraxel may not be suited for people with certain hyperpigmentation problems and flexibility to try different treatments may be required if you have uneven skin tone; but our Dermal Clinicians are highly experienced in assessing your skin (using Canfield Reveal technology) and can assist.
- Redness during the recovery period may continue for another few days or even as long as a week or two (but for most people, it resolves within a few days and can readily be covered by the right mineral makeup or by products such as Lycogel).
- The skin may take on a bronzer tone over a week or two.
- Similar to skin’s response to sunburn, your skin will be likely to flake after Fraxel – as your skin exfoliates the outer layers.
Moisturizing with the right cosmeceutical products during the recovery period is highly recommended (your Clinician can advise which ones you SHOULD or SHOULD NOT use before and after your Fraxel treatment). There are certain pre-treatment protocols you’ll need to follow also (regarding NOT using some active products on your skin in the weeks leading up to your Fraxel treatment).
You MUST also stay completely out of the sun after Fraxel (and be sure you follow the preparation and post-treatment protocols exactly or you could risk your skin – NO SUN for the required period after your Fraxel treatment means NO SUN, not some).
- Most people see results within a few days of their treatment or after the initial treatment redness or potential swelling subsides.
- However, since Fraxel stimulates collagen in the deeper layers of your skin, a continual improvement in tone and appearance may continue for up to year; and repeated treatments or top-ups can also make a noticeable positive difference in your skin’s appearance over time!
Ready for Rejuvenation?
If you have higher melanin (darker skin types) or are prone to conditions such as hyperpigmentation and Melasma, you might just be best off with a micro-needling technique (Dermapen treatment) for scar minimisation or rejuvenation. Alternatively, if your skin is very weathered or more sun damaged, and you don’t mind slightly more preparation, discomfort and down time, your Clinician might recommend Fraxel instead.
But these are not the only two options; so schedule an appointment with a Dermal Clinician to find out which advanced treatment is right for YOUR scars or other skin concern.
If life has dealt your skin a few harsh blows and left you with scars, maybe it’s time to consider scar minimisation using either Fraxel laser or Micro-needling with a Dermapen, at one of our Clinics in Hawthorn or Williamstown.
Send a confidential enquiry below or phone us on (03) 8849 1400 during Clinic Hours to arrange your Confidential Consultation with a top Dermal Clinician in the Melbourne Coco Ruby team.
Sources and further reading:
1) Skin resurfacing procedures: new and emerging options. NIH.gov. Retrieved September 6, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4155739/
2) Update on Fractional Laser Technology. NIH.gov. Retrieved September 6, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921736/
3) Fractionated Laser Resurfacing Corrects the Inappropriate UVB Response in Geriatric Skin. researchgate.net. Retrieved September 6, 2016. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/221873444_Fractionated_Laser_Resurfacing_Corrects_the_Inappropriate_UVB_Response_in_Geriatric_Skin