My Painfully Honest Fraxel Review – Before/After Pics

fraxel before and after

Hey friends! I had my first round of Fraxel on my face about 6 weeks ago, so my skin has now been able to heal from it. (In fact, it’s healed enough that I can now go into round 2! More on that in a minute.) Fraxel Dual Resurfacing is, by far, the biggest skin treatment I’ve ever done, so I figured it deserves a permanent spot on my blog.

Keep in mind that I’ve only done 1 of 3 treatments thus far. I’m really happy with the results, though! Can’t wait to see what my skin is looking like after the third and final treatment. 

Fraxel before and after

What Is Fraxel?

Ok, I’m going to do my best to explain this. But in all honesty, I think it’s best to chat with a medical professional who can explain all the science-y stuff about it. (I had this done at Viva because they have liscensed medical professionals there. It jsut gives me peace of mind.) 

Fraxel Dual is an innovative skin resurfacing treatment. Essentially, it’s a laser that goes deep into the skin and causes micro-injuries.

This is a good thing! It triggers your body’s natural healing process so your collagen production goes on turbo-drive, healing the skin from the inside out. 

It’s a non-ablative laser, which means it heats up the underlying skin tissue but doesn’t damage the surface. So recovery is pretty minimal. 

It’s FDA approved and helps repair fine lines and wrinkles, fade skin discoloration like skin spots and sun spots (my biggest concern), and reduce the appearance of stretch marks, surgical scars, and acne scars. 

I thoroughly read this page about getting Fraxel in Austin before booking my appointment. 

The Consultation

I went to Viva for a free consultation with their medical practitioner. 

To be honest, I didn’t know which skin treatment I wanted or needed. 

Over the past few years, my skin has shown a LOT of signs of aging. It’s partly due to entering a new decade of life (skin just ages, y’all!), and partly due to the past 4 years of pregnancy and breastfeeding (I couldn’t use my beloved retinol for several years – sob!). 

Also, my melasma has been getting worse. It’s pretty stubborn and tricky to treat but I wanted to know about my options. 

Anyway, I’m very glad I booked this consultation because I learned that two of the treatments I had been considering would actually most likely make my melanoma WORSE! 

Umm, what? 

The medical practitioner at Viva laid out the best options for my skin concerns. I basically had two different treatments that could help with list of issues (redness from acne scaring, sun spots, fine lines, and melanoma.) 

Of the two options, I decided to go with Fraxel. 

What happens at a fraxel appointment?

fraxel before and after

It starts with a thorough questionnaire from the practitioner. The staff at Viva wants to make sure that they’re going to help your skin (not harm it!) and so they’re really thorough in making sure you did all the pre-op instructions, like not using retinol or getting peels for the prescribed length of time.

Then she took a few “before” pictures and applied numbing cream ^ on my face, neck, and chest.  

*Side note: I love the private waiting area at Viva Day Spa! It smells lovely with essential oils filling the air, and there’s calming music playing. Staff members would stop by from time to time to check in on me and offer beverages. I read a book for an hour while I waited for the numbing cream to start working.

Once my face was fully numb, we started the actual Fraxel treatment. She did 3 passes on my face, neck, and chest. 

What was the pain level? Not comfortable…but not unbearable. There was a time or two when I had to ask her to stop for a second because my face just felt too hot, but overall it wasn’t too bad. 

You can see the giant laser machine behind me in the photo above. It’s pretty impressive! From my understanding, it’s a very premium product to purchase and use, which is why many day spas in Austin don’t offer Fraxel. Viva is one of the few.  

Recovery from Fraxel

Immediately after finishing, my face was HOT and RED and SWOLLEN. 

I was given some ice packs to keep on my face and the nurse told me to keep my head elevated with a few pillows that night when I slept. 

fraxel review

When I got home from my evening Fraxel appointment, I immediately put on a calming face mask. 

I also used my Skinceuticals B5 gel and drank a LOT of water to keep my skin hydrated. 


Fraxel recovery day 1

Oof! I woke up and I was pretty puffy in morning. (Which I was warned would probably be the case.)

The redness was really bad, too! I looked like I got a bad sunburn, and it felt like that too.

The redness on the back of my hands hurt the most…probably because I kept forgetting about it, and then I hit my hand against something and it really hurt. 

The nurse from Viva called in the afternoon to check in on me  at the 24 hour mark and make sure I didn’t have any questions or weird symptoms. I really appreciated that! 

Day 2

fraxel recovery

Listen, I know these pics are not cute. But I’m just going to be real with you and share the whole process, ok? 

Day 2 and my skin still looked/felt sunburned. The dark spots were also getting darker.

 (Again, I was warned this would probably happen. Recovery from Fraxel is one of those “it gets worse before it gets better” situations.)


I asked the nurse to do fraxel on the backs of my hands, if she had the time. She was very kind and agreed to do a few passes with the laser over my hands (because somehow my hands look like grandma hands and have a million brown spots on them…) 

Anyway, I snapped an up-close shot of the back of my hands on day 3: 

fraxel before and after

See all those tiny dark spots? They were also covering my face and chest. From what I understand, it’s all the excess pigmentation in the skin coming up to the surface. 

Actually, my chest and backs of hands literally felt like sandpaper. No joke. 

Also, I’ll be honest with you: my face looked AWFUL on day 3. I’d be lying if I didn’t have a moment of regret and think “what have I done?!” 

Don’t worry, it gets better!!


(Haha, but it doesn’t get better on day 4…)

fraxel recovery day 6

First off, let’s just take a moment and appreciate how hard it is to take a selfie without makeup or smiling. Ha! I cackled to myself when I saw these pics, but they’re the best way for you to see the Fraxel healing process. 

By 4 days after the Fraxel appointment my skin was rough! Those dark little bumps were everywhere. And while the sunburned look had faded, the darkness had increased. All of my melasma just kept looking worse. 


fraxel before and after

I had Fraxel done on a Friday, and by the following Wednesday my skin was still looking rough. 

Recovery was a bit slower than I thought it might be. You’re told “48 with no workouts/sweating” so I thought 48 hours would be the worst, but it really was a full week of my face looking kind of rough. Just fyi. 

Day 7

Fraxel recovery day 7

Ahh! Finally, a week after the Fraxel laser appointment, those dark spots starting sloughing off. 

It was hard to not use an abrasive scrub and just GET. THEM. OFF! But I was clearly told to let everything happen naturally and only wash my face with a gentle cleanser, so that’s what I did. 

DAY 10

Fraxel Recovery Day 10

By day 10 all those pesky black dots and sloughed off. (Not on my chest and backs of hands though…they still felt like sandpaper and took another full week to heal!)

My skin felt and looked a little pink and raw, but in a good, fresh way. 

Fraxel recovery day by day

I’m really happy with the progress thus far! Like I said, I still have two more Fraxel treatments to go. We’re doing them 6 weeks apart, and I’ll update this blog post after each treatment. 

Fraxel before and after

^ That’s a pretty good reduction in dark spots and melasma for being only 1/3 of the way through this process. 

I have a lot of thoughts to share about the cost vs benefit, the recovery downtime, and the overall value of Fraxel. I want to make this Fraxel review as thorough as possible.

But I’m going to wait until I’ve completed all 3 sessions before I share my final opinions because I still have a ways to go. Fraxel is a pretty big investment, so it’s definitely worth knowing as many details as possible about it before diving in. 

Stay tuned! 

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