beauty

ROADTEST: 'I got Fraxel laser treatment to fade my freckles. Here's exactly what happened.'

Hi! I’m Hannah! I’m a pharmaceutical scientist and I chat about all things beauty on Instagram

I’ve had freckles my whole life, and just before lockdown I had Fraxel 1927 laser to even out my skin tone and reduce the appearance of some freckles and sun damage. 

Growing up in Australia, and given the harshness of the sun here, it’s pretty inevitable that we accumulate pigmentation and sun damage, but there are some really wonderful clinical options to reduce their appearance.

Watch: How to protect your skin from the sun. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

I’ve been teased about my freckles since I can remember, and as I age, some sun spots are joining them for a pigment party.

For reference, I’m 32, I have Fitzpatrick skin type I (very fair), I never tan — only burn, and I’m prone to freckles and redness. I’ll never have skin completely clear of sun damage and freckles, but they can be dramatically reduced with regular treatments.

Fraxel is a non-invasive, fractional laser skin resurfacing treatment.

It uses microscopic-sized columns of heat to induce micro-injuries to the skin. This then triggers the skin’s healing processes, stimulating collagen production while resurfacing the skin’s top layer to lift pigmentation and minimise wrinkles and texture. 

It can be used at the 1927 wavelength to specifically target pigmentation, or at the 1550 wavelength to target acne scarring or deep wrinkles. 

I was pretty scared of the laser used in the treatment, so we used it on the very lowest setting, but it was actually fine — I wish I’d been braver!

Downtime was around a week for me, with full results a month after the procedure.

That's it in a nutshell, but below you'll find my full, honest diary during and after treatment.

Here's my bare skin before treatment:

Day 0. Image: Supplied.

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The Fraxel treatment.

I arrived at Skin Renu in Balmain, Sydney, sanitised my hands, and filled in a patient information and consent form. 

They have several brilliant treatments available, like the Cutera Laser Genesis for redness, and the Practice Manager Sylvia Down is very knowledgeable, so I know I was in good hands.

My clinician was Jess, who has way more years of experience than her fresh skin would suggest!

We put on a hairnet and cleansed then disinfected my face, followed by numbing cream which was left on for about 20 minutes.

Image: Supplied.

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The laser itself felt quite warm, but often I can feel heat in my skin quickly anyway, so I’m used to it. The device blows cool air onto the treated area, too, which feels nice.

I’d rate it a 2/10 to 3/10 on the pain scale.

Then Jess applied the Mesoestetic after-treatment sheet mask, and a cold compress.

Image: Supplied.

After that we used the Mesoestetic mineral matt sunscreen, SPF50+. Mineral sunscreens are a great option post-procedure as they soothe the skin. I left with strict instructions to wear and reapply SPF, and avoid the sun.

I feel a bit sunburnt and swollen, and I look a bit of a fright. My Uber driver didn’t mention it though, bless him. 

I’m blotchy and my freckles have darkened, cleansing at night tingles a bit and I’m not allowed actives in my skincare for a week. This means no retinol, any exfoliating acids, or vitamin C. It’s strictly gentle cleanser, hydrating serum, LOTS of SPF and soothing moisturiser for me!

I used the Allies of Skin Molecular Cleanser, Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Intense, Beautybay Thirst Trap Oat Moisturiser, and La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+ Sunscreen only for the entire week.

Day One after treatment.

My pigmentation is darkening and my skin feels tight and dry.

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Still using only a hyaluronic acid serum and oatmeal moisturiser morning and night, followed by sunscreen in the morning. 

Makeup is going on OK, thankfully, but with no makeup I look fine, just a bit more sun damaged than usual. I’m able to attend meetings and no one can tell that my skin is compromised.

Day Two after treatment.

My skin has become itchy and a lot dryer, like sandpaper. Makeup looks quite bad, all rough and dry. I’ve been experimenting with eye makeup for fun since it’s all I can really do right now!

The pigment on my skin is still darkening, which doesn’t look great either, but it will come off soon. In some places, I can see tiny little dark dots where the heat columns of the laser have been.

It’s pretty hard not to touch my face to scratch the itch, but I must NEVER do this, at the risk of scarring. I’m reapplying moisturiser and sunscreen every couple of hours to help soothe my skin instead.

Image: Supplied. 

Image: Supplied.

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Day Three.

My skin is looking better if I just don’t bother with makeup so… that’s what we’re doing! 

My forehead in particular is looking quite rough. My skin should start peeling off in the next day or so, so I’m looking forward to the new skin underneath.

Day Four.

No updates! Still dry and sandpapery, still applying lots of moisturiser and sunscreen.

Day Five.

Most of the dead skin has come off now, it peels from the centre of my face so there’s still some left on the hairline and jawline. 

The dry patches are easily camouflaged with a hydrating sunscreen. The darkened pigmentation has come off, but the skin underneath is still freckled. At this point I don’t have much faith seeing as my freckles are still very visible.

Image: Supplied.

Day Six.

Still some dry patches under the chin, my dark freckling along the under eye area looks the same, I’m very smooth though. My skin is still quite sensitive, so I won’t be using any actives in my skincare regime just yet.

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One week after treatment.

No updates, but sensitivity has improved and I’m ready to reintroduce some (but not all) of my skincare actives.

Two weeks after treatment.

I’m ready to go back to my prior skincare regimen, and trying very hard to be patient waiting for results. I won’t take any more comparison selfies until the one month mark so as not to get upset...

One month later.

"After" Image: Supplied.

OK here we are! My skin is smoother and brighter, and sensitivity has resolved. When I look at comparison photos, the difference is very noticeable! And this was using the lowest setting of the laser.

Altogether, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be, although the downtime is certainly a drawback. I definitely wouldn’t be comfortable attending an event as my skin was dry and rough and started to look even more sun damaged during the week after treatment. The result was worth it though!

Since having Fraxel, I feel like there is hope for me in reducing the appearance of my freckles and I will be continuing with more Fraxel treatments for further results.

For more updates from Hannah, follow her on Instagram at @ms_hannah_e.

Feature image: Supplied.

Have you tried Fraxel, or would you like to? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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