Fraxel laser vs. RF microneedling: Which One Is Best?

Fraxel laser vs RF microneedling

Are you looking for a skin upgrade? 


Your face is your calling card. It’s what you use for your social media profiles. It attracts people to you and for some (see models and social media influencers), it’s your bread and butter. That means there are people always on the lookout for in-office procedures to keep their skin looking fantastic. That’s where Fraxel laser vs. RF microneedling comes in.  

While RF microneedling has been around for years, Fraxel lasers are growing in popularity as a long-term solution to some of the skin’s most common concerns. But that does not mean we’re putting RF microneedling out to pasture. Let’s break down these two options so you can make the best decision for your next skincare upgrade at Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics. 


Common skincare issues 

Why would you be thinking about Fraxel lasers vs RF microneedling in the first place? Studies show that over 85 million – or 1 in 4 – Americans have at least one skin condition or ongoing skin issue. Some of these can benefit from an in-office procedure like lasers or microneedling. These common issues include: 


  • Acne and acne scarring: Acne forms when the pores on our face, back, and chest become clogged and inflamed. These could be filled with sebum, bacteria, dirt, or ingrown hairs. Over time, acne can leave near-permanent scars, which can lower confidence. 
  • Wrinkles and fine lines: With age comes wisdom. Age also brings wrinkles and fine lines. Repeated movements of our facial muscles leave lines and creases, making us appear much older. While some skincare products can help, an in-office treatment can create long-term results. 
  • Age spots and Uneven skin tone: Sun damage, hormone changes, and certain products can make our skin look dull and uneven, with some areas darker than others. These issues often affect the top layer of the skin. A procedure like lasers or microneedling can help.  
  • Achieving smooth skin: Some people may not struggle with acne, wrinkles, or age spots but want to look and feel younger or maintain already fantastic skin. Just because you don’t see blemishes does not mean that there are no dull layers of skin. The occasional in-office procedure can help them achieve healthier skin. 


Anyone struggling with these issues should visit a dermatologist for advice. Your doctor can assess your skin and recommend the best treatment for your skincare needs. 


What is a Fraxel laser? 

A form of fractional laser treatment, Fraxel lasers use light technology to treat specific skin concerns. As the name implies, the light does not fully hit the skin but targets tiny areas (columns) without affecting the surrounding skin. It’s a non-ablative technique, meaning it heats up the layers of the skin to break them down versus destroying and removing the skin, which is an ablative technique.  

Fraxel lasers are a specific brand-name wand with patented fractional laser technology. The laser comes with two wavelengths that impact the skin in different ways. Your dermatologist or qualified esthetician will use the deeper wavelength to treat more severe issues like acne scarring, while the other can target superficial issues, like skin rejuvenation.  


Common Fraxel laser uses 

Fraxel helps dermatologists treat both superficial and deep skin issues. Acne scarring is one of the biggest benefits as it can help break up deep scars left behind by severe inflammation caused by acne. It can also improve age spots, some minor wrinkles, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and sun damage. Some people try fractional laser techniques to achieve smooth, tight skin before an event like a wedding, photoshoot, or interview.  


Benefits of Fraxel laser procedures 

Whatever you’re trying to treat, Fraxel lasers have several benefits and advantages. These include: 

  1. Non-invasive procedure: You can avoid surgery and other expensive treatments as no incisions, injections, or general anesthesia is required. 
  1. A fast procedure: Fraxel laser treatment takes about 30 minutes to cover the entire face. We will need additional time to apply topical anesthesia (about 60 minutes) to reduce pain and irritation. 
  1. Minimal downtime: You can return to work and do normal activities within 24 hours. You will feel a prickly sensation, redness, and mild swelling. This subsides within a few days. All you need to do is protect your face with sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) and moisturizer while it heals.  
  1. Minimal side effects: A non-ablative approach means there are fewer chances of complications. During the procedure, cold air is applied to the face while the laser passes across the skin to cool the skin, which reduces complications.  
  1. Fantastic results: You’ll achieve smoother skin and fewer acne scars and wrinkles in just one session. Due to its fractional nature, multiple sessions are required for optimal results.  

People who try fractional lasers enjoy the results without destroying the top layers of the skin. The lasers promote more collagen production, especially at the deeper levels, which can help restore your skin to a smooth, tight, youthful appearance.  


Is Fraxel laser treatment for everyone? 

Because it’s a non-ablative, fractional laser, we can use this on almost any skin type and shade. However, there are exceptions. People with sensitive skin, for instance, may have unwanted reactions to lasers. Anyone currently using medication for acne or scarring, like a retinoid, should avoid these procedures until the treatment is over. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should avoid Fraxel lasers until after delivery.  


How long do Fraxel results last? 

With any cosmetic procedure, the results and length of results may vary. It depends on the severity of the patient’s issue, patient expectations, number of sessions, and aftercare. On average, Fraxel laser treatment can last 12 months or more. With the right aftercare, patients can enjoy even longer results from acne scarring and age spots.  


Thinking about RF microneedling? 

Radiofrequency (RF) microneedling is a cosmetic treatment that has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its ability to rejuvenate the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars. It uses a wand with multiple tiny needles at the end. These needles are at different lengths and are used to penetrate the skin gently. This action encourages the skin to produce more collagen while breaking up the damaged top layer. The procedure also adds Radiofrequency (RF) waves to the deeper levels of the skin. RF waves help produce even better results. Some of the benefits of RF microneedling include: 


Benefits of RF microneedling 

Patients who use RF microneedling swear by the procedure. It’s a technique that’s been used for many decades in different cultures. The wand provides more control and accuracy with the restorative benefits of RF light. Some additional benefits include the following:  


  1. Collagen Stimulation: RF microneedling uses radiofrequency energy to heat the skin’s deep layers, stimulating collagen production. Collagen is a protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. 
  2. Skin Tightening: The heat generated by RF microneedling causes the skin to contract, resulting in a tightening effect. This can help improve the appearance of sagging skin and give you a more youthful look. 
  3. Improved Skin Tone and Texture: RF microneedling can help improve the overall tone and texture of the skin. By stimulating the production of collagen and elastin, it can help 
  4. Minimal Downtime: Unlike more invasive cosmetic treatments, RF microneedling has minimal downtime. You may experience some bruising, redness, and swelling after the treatment, but these side effects should resolve within a few days. 
  5. Non-Invasive: RF microneedling is a non-invasive procedure, meaning no incisions are made in the skin. This makes it a popular choice for those looking to improve their skin’s appearance without the need for surgery. 


Fraxel laser vs RF Microneedling: What to expect during your procedure 

Like Fraxel laser therapy, RF microneedling is a short in-office procedure. The team will begin by cleaning the face and applying a topical numbing cream. From there, your dermatologist sweeps the microneedling wand over the problem areas of the face, adjusting the device to penetrate deeper levels of the skin as needed. At the same time, the RF light is activated to stimulate collagen production. RF microneedling sessions take about 30 minutes, with additional time required for the numbing cream to take effect. Multiple sessions are required to see the best results.  


Fraxel laser vs. RF microneedling? Which one’s best? 

Both procedures are excellent tools we use at Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics to help our patients improve their skin. You’ll see similar results with both procedures. We will recommend specific procedures to treat specific skin conditions. 


Issues that affect the deeper layers, like acne scarring, texture issues, and serious skin problems, can benefit from Fraxel lasers. We can use deeper wavelengths to break up scars while promoting collagen production. The dramatic results from Fraxel lasers mean fewer sessions are required.  


If you’re looking for more dramatic results, Fraxel lasers may be right for you. Minor skin concerns, like rejuvenation before an interview, mild scarring, and discoloration, can benefit from RF microneedling. Microneedling also has the benefit of not using heat, reducing the chances of complications.  


Let’s help you with your skin concerns 

In the Fraxel laser vs. RF microneedling debate, it’s all about how severe your skin concerns are and what you’re trying to achieve. Laser treatment may be right for you if you have deep acne scarring and severe hyperpigmentation. It can reduce scarring significantly without the need for more invasive procedures. 


At Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics, we provide both laser and RF microneedling procedures. our lead dermatologist, Ife Rodney, MD, FAAD, is a specialist in cosmetic procedures. She understands when to choose Fraxel laser vs. RF microneedling. After several sessions, you’ll leave with smoother, clearer skin and a new lease on life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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