Clear & Brilliant laser versus microneedling for aging. Which is better?

Microneedling vs clear and brilliant for anti-aging. Also wondering if your opinion on microneedling has changed over last year or so as it has become so popular. Thanks!

In my opinion, the clear winner here is the Clear & Brilliant which IS just a light Fraxel Dual. In fact, this gentle laser is made by the same company as Fraxel.

What is the Clear & Brilliant Laser (C & B)?

Basically, it’s the same thing as an approximately 2-3 pass Fraxel at low settings – very light Fraxel. The wavelengths are the same as the Fraxel. With a regular Fraxel, generally 6-8 passes are done with either 1 or 2 wavelengths (1550nm, 1927 nm).  The 1550nm is more for acne scarring and texture. The 1927nm is more to lift brown pigment (melanin). Your nurse or doctor can combine these wavelengths in way and increase or decrease the power. For example, 4 passes of 1550nm and then 2 passes of 1927 or that could be 3 and 3 etc. The laser tip rolls over the skin. The C&B has almost exactly the same wavelengths.

A Fraxel (same company makes the C&B) can do exactly the same thing if the number of passes are reduced to 2-3, and the levels are turned to the lowest level. We use our Fraxel to do a C&B treatment and we just call it Fraxel Lite.

What is Microneedling?

Microneedling uses rollers or stamping devices with tiny pins in them. The pins are about the size of an acupuncture needle but they really vary from device to device depending on the company. The depth and spacing of the little pins also varies.    The pin size is significantly larger than the laser beam used in a C&B or Fraxel. There is much less experience and science on microneedling.

Advantages of Clear & Brilliant or a very light Fraxel

  • More consistent results than with microneedling due to settings and protocols that are more standardized.
  • Small beam size versus the larger pin size means it’s less likely to cause tiny scars where the pins went in.
  • Less risk of infection generally with laser because the rollers are used once or twice, and sterilization is more standard.  Infections are always possible with any device that penetrates the skin.
  • Better results on brown spots
  • Both are about the same amount of “downtime”- little to none.
  • C&B is slightly more expensive.
  • Less result for both than traditional lasers.
  • Best for maintenance, or if you’re ok with slow results and multiple treatments.

Please stay away from Groupon and smaller, independent operators where you don’t know their training or sterilization standards.

Hope this helps,  Dr. I


Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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

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