Are these results possible problems after my Fraxel Restore and IPL?

Hi Dr. Irwin, I received both a Fraxel Restore and IPL treatment on my face about four months ago to treat some acne and chickenpox scars as well as some sun damage. I had no complications at all and was quite pleased with the results. I have been vigilant about using sunscreen—I apply an 18% zinc one twice a day (often with a boost of Colorscience powder SPF), wear a hat and mostly stay indoors during peak sun hours. Despite all this, I’ve developed quite a bit of sun damage on my cheeks and forehead since my laser treatments. I also think my skin texture has changed in some areas. I have what appears to be a bit of an orange peel texture and creepiness in areas where I normally don’t have that problem (mid-cheek and temples). I’m in my early thirties with very fair skin. I went to a very well respected derm but I’m starting to wonder if what I’m seeing with my pigmentation and skin texture isn’t a complication from my earlier lasers. Do you have any advice? Thank you for your help!

I’m guessing you’ve been back to talk to your doctor or staff about this, but still are wondering.   Thank you for your age, and it also sounds like you live in a sunny climate. You’re saying sun damage, but let’s explore this a little.

A Few Questions To Think About:

  • Do you live in a climate with a lot of sun for the past 4 months (summer) so yes.  You’re doing a great job of sun protection!  Remember that UVA (causes a lot of pigmentation issues peaks the 3rd week of June at the summer solstice.
  • Any new skincare products since the lasers?
  • What activities are you doing outside?
  • Check your nutrition.  Are you getting enough protein and good fats?
  • Do you have a history of melasma or prior pigmentation problems?
  • Are you on oral contraceptives?
  • Do you have any newish (past year) health problems, for example thyroid, that might contribute?
  • Any new oral medications or supplements in the past 6 months or so?

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. It’s more the question….is it really the lasers, something else, or a combination of both?

What can you do now – 4 steps?

  1. Talk to your derm clinic, and correct anything you can from the list above.
  2. Review your skin care carefully.  True allergic reactions are NOT usually subtle.  But conversely, it continually amazes us here at the clinic how subtle low grade irritation from products can be.  Try doing a product elimination diet. 🙂  Pare down to a gentle cleanser, great moisturizer you know doesn’t irritate you, and your sunscreen.  After 2-3 weeks, is your skin better?  You then have your answer! Add products back one week apart until you know which skincare product is the problem.
  3. After that try correcting the pigment issue with 4-12 weeks of a gentle, plant based lightener like Lytera.  Good quality antioxidants like Phloretin CF also help.
  4. After all of the above, medically supervised microdermabrasion or light peels done at least 6-8 weeks apart may help with texture and color… after all of the above.
Good Luck to You and Hope this helps,
Dr. Brandith Irwin
Founder, SkinTour
Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center
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Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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