How to evaluate information on skin care on the web (specifically Fraxel)?

Dear Dr. Irwin, I am 63 and have a date next week for my first Fraxel (non-ablative) treatment. I've read several posts on a couple websites today that have made me concerned about longer term side-effects, namely extreme loss of volume, increased sagging, broken blood vessels and "ruined" faces that ended up looking much older than their years! These are posts apparently made by a few people. I don't know how seriously to consider this information. Is it possible that in the long term, Fraxel could cause more damage than it corrects? I wonder how many people have experienced side effects that are so negative and long-lasting that they feel they should not have had a Fraxel treatment? Please help! I do not know what to do at this point. Thanks so much, Teresa

Hi Teresa  – 

It difficult for many to figure out whom to trust on the web and how to research things carefully.  And I think the problem will just increase for the next few years.   So here are some thoughts:

  •  Try to identify 3 or 4 sites whose information you generally trust and use them first.  You may save yourself time and headaches;
  • Don’t pay any attention to random anecdotes on sites that use reader content mostly – sometimes these negative comments are actually posted by companies against their competitors;
  • Do use sites that are content by professional bodies like which is the American Academy of Dermatologies official site, for example:
  • Don’t use sites that use "fear" based photos and marketing or sites that all one sided either way;
  • Company sites can be useful (even though self-serving) if you look for sections that accurately report percentages of complications  for a procedure;

 And lastly, we’ve been doing Fraxel in our office for 10 years now and have never seen any of the horror stories listed above.    Hope this helps,   Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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