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Turning up the heat in search of perfect skin

I've been known to take a risk or two. I once went shipwreck diving in the Caribbean. I've even worn white after Labor Day. But when it comes to my face, I prefer not to take chances.

Which is why, when I decided to review fractional laser resurfacing (typically $900 to $1,200 per treatment), I did what any smart woman does before agreeing to have her body laser-treated — research. Eight weeks after my journey began, from research to treatment to recovery, here's the scoop on one of the "hottest" skin rejuvenation treatments on the market.

What is it?

Fractional laser resurfacing is skin rejuvenation that targets small areas of the skin. The laser beam is fractionated, or broken up, hence the name.

Areas of the skin, typically the face, are treated in microzones while tiny adjoining areas are untreated, allowing for more rapid recovery of all areas. The microzones experience a laser injury that promotes collagen production and skin rejuvenation.

Inside the treatment room

After I arrived at the medical spa, my appointment began with a digital evaluation of my skin, including an analysis of sun damage, wrinkles and beyond. After spending my childhood in Miami and the Bahamas, I wasn't surprised to find that sun damage had set in. After some questions about the procedures, including possible side effects — think redness and swelling — we got started. Laser resurfacing typically begins with some kind of numbing treatment, and some report that the procedure is painful even after numbing. I was told to expect discomfort, but I found it quite bearable. It's certainly uncomfortable at points, especially after repeated "passes" with the laser on specific areas, but I wanted results and I expected a little discomfort on the road to better skin.

The treatment was quick; my entire face was done in about 40 minutes. After one side of my face was done, I was given a cool roller to ease the hot sensation — akin to a sunburn — that is experienced.

Recovery and results

Immediately after my treatment I was quite uncomfortable, but a few hours and a couple of Advil later, I was back to normal. While the pain subsided quickly, the redness and swelling hung around for a few days, although I was able to cover it up easily with a generous concealer and foundation. (I recommend Smart Cover, about $30 at

Post treatment, it's imperative to use SPF daily to protect your new skin. That's a habit you'll want to stick to for life. I also used PrescibedSolutions, a line of skin care products with specific offerings for pre- and post-laser treatments such as "Don't Be So Sensitive Post Procedure Cleanser" and "Control Tactics," a post-procedure soothing gel.

Six weeks later, I see improved skin clarity with the promise of improved firmness thanks to new collagen formation over the next six months.

Carolyn Brundage is the founder of Tweet Up with her at @tampabaypretty.

Turning up the heat in search of perfect skin 12/02/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:04pm]
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