Thermo Fractional Facials: The Advantages and Disadvantages

Laser Facials and Thermo-Fractional Facials: What is the difference between the two? Are they worth all the Hype? Do they really work? Read on as we weigh the pros and cons of both.
Thermo-fractional facials, woman with gray hair looking at her face

Laser Facials and Thermo Fractional Facials: What is the difference between the two?  Are they worth all the Hype? Do they really work? Read on as we weigh the pros and cons of both.

Skin changes with age, according to the National Institute of Aging. “It becomes thinner, loses fat, and no longer looks as plump and smooth as it once did.”

This is no surprise to women in their prime. Wrinkles, age spots, veins, dryness, years of suntanning– it’s all part of that aging process.

But there are things you can do to protect your skin and to make it feel and look better. While skincare products do help, there comes a time when we look in the mirror and want more of a boost to our facial skin and complexion.

And every woman’s aging journey is unique.

As a 60-year-young grandmother to 12 grandkids, I’m seeing it too. All those hours outside working in our Iowa acre-farm-to-table garden, detasseling corn, hoeing beans, mowing lawns – and yes, even basking in the sun for a darker tan. I must admit that the aging process snuck up on me.

As a woman in my prime, I’m not quite ready for Botox injections or invasive surgery.  I’d just like to look in the mirror and see smoother skin, maybe fewer wrinkles, and a healthier complexion.

That’s when I started considering noninvasive facial treatments, including laser facials and Thermo Fractional facials. I reached out to medical professionals to learn about my options before I booked an appointment.

The Importance of Facial Treatments

Woman getting a facial

According to NYC-based Board-Certified Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr. Michelle Green, “Trends in beauty, wellness, and skincare are constantly evolving. Keeping up with daily must-have skincare products and procedures can sometimes feel overwhelming. The skin is the body’s largest organ and acts as a protective barrier –and the first line of defense against potential infection, environmental toxins, and harsh ultraviolet rays from the sun. Luckily something that never changes is the importance of facial treatments.”

Dr. Green says that by keeping your skin in good health, you’re not only taking care of your appearance, but you’re also helping your skin do its best job. That’s why facial treatments should be a part of your skincare routine.

Thermo Fractional Facials: A New Non-Laser Treatment for Skin Rejuvenation

I asked Mina Chun, Skin Laundry RN and Director of Clinical Innovation & Education, what exactly is a Thermo Fractional Facial and to describe the treatment.

“Skin Laundry’s Thermo Fractional Facial is a resurfacing treatment,” says Ms. Chun. “It uses thermal heat to induce collagen, break up bad, unhealthy tissue, allow for better penetration of products, and remove unwanted pigment in the skin. In addition, it helps with overall textural blending by stimulating collagen and elastin production and helps tighten the skin.”

Ms. Chun recommends this treatment for clients (hello, women in their prime!) with concerns about irregular skin texture, fine lines, and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation with texture called PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), dull skin, acne scars, and enlarged pores. With this treatment, clients can see significant improvement in their skin quality.

How Do Thermo Fractional Facials Work?

According to Ms. Chun, the device uses non-laser-based Thermo mechanical energy, unlike laser devices or procedures such as dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels. It delivers controlled heat at a high temperature to the top layer of the skin without damaging its surface. Since it’s not laser-based, protective eyewear is unnecessary, resulting in treatments closer to the eyes.

This treatment helps stimulate the skin regeneration and production of new collagen and elastin, allows for better penetration of products, targets pigment, and improves texture and tone. This leads to a more youthful and radiant appearance.

Older technology utilized more aggressive lasers to resurface the skin. This new technology results in skin that heals much faster and is much easier to tolerate. Patients have less of that sensation of heat that lingers on their skin. It is also a much safer approach to resurfacing.

Thermo fractional facials are a safe and effective treatment for skin rejuvenation. They are a good option for people who are looking for a non-surgical way to improve the appearance of their skin.

What are the Advantages of Thermo Fractional Facials?

Woman getting a facial

One of the advantages, according to Ms. Chun, occurs from the microchannels it creates – tiny, precise wounds on the top layer of your skin. These initiate a healing response that stimulates collagen and elastin production. They also provide a channel for Skin Laundry’s medical-grade serums to penetrate your skin for 90% absorption.

In addition, the heat energy causes collagen and elastic contraction. The result is that you can expect to notice the tightening effect as a secondary benefit.

Another benefit of Thermo Fractional is that you can see the changes in your skin instantaneously after each treatment once the skin is fully healed since it is treating the top layer of the skin.

According to Lasers and Surgery in Medicine, a clinical study posted at Wiley.com, Thermo Fractional Facials are “a safe and effective method for improving facial skin quality. Addressing patient′s expectations while maximizing the benefits of this novel technology will provide superior aesthetical results.”

What are the Disadvantages of Thermo Fractional Facials?

With the advantages of any procedure, it is important to also weigh the potential disadvantages of thermo fractional facials. These include:

  • Pain: The procedure can be uncomfortable, and some people experience pain during and after the treatment.
  • Redness and swelling: The skin may become red and swollen for a few days after the treatment.
  • Peeling: The skin may peel for a few days after the treatment.
  • Sun sensitivity: The skin will be more sensitive to the sun for several weeks after the treatment.
  • Infection: There is a small risk of infection after the treatment.
  • Scarring: Scarring is a rare but possible side effect of thermo-fractional facials.

It is important to talk to your doctor and/or medical professional about the risks and benefits of thermo fractional facials before deciding if it is the right treatment.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind:

  • Thermo fractional facials are not a permanent solution to skin problems. You may need to repeat the treatment every few years to maintain the results.
  • The cost of thermo fractional facials varies depending on the provider and the area being treated.
  • Thermo-fractional facials are not recommended for pregnant women or people with certain medical conditions.

After Care: Thermo Fractional Facial Treatments

Sun hat, Avoiding the sun

Thermo fractional facials are typically performed in a series of treatments, with each treatment lasting about 30 minutes. The number of treatments needed will vary depending on the severity of the skin concerns.

After the treatment, the skin may be red and swollen for a few days. It takes about six hours for the microchannels to close and heal. For maximum results, Ms. Chun recommends clients reapply their medical-grade serum every hour for the first six hours to allow as much absorption as possible before the wound closes.

It is important to use sunscreen and avoid sun exposure for several weeks after the treatment to protect the skin from further damage.

If you are interested in learning more about thermo fractional facials, please talk to your doctor or a qualified esthetician.

REVIEW: My Skin Laundry Thermo Fractional Facials Experience

Diana Rowe Before and After Thermo-Fractional facial

After researching Thermo Fractional Facials, I was ready to try it out myself.

Enter Skin Laundry, a medical-based skincare company known for specializing in facials – and noninvasive laser treatment. Skin Laundry opened its flagship location in Santa Monica in 2013. At the end of 2022, Skin Laundry had 30 locations, and in 2023, it will open an additional 30 new locations in the U.S., including my home state, Colorado.

Known for its revolutionary, innovative, and affordable medical-grade 15-minute laser treatments and as the “Beauty Startup to Watch,” it recently debuted its Thermo Fractional Facials. Registered Nurses perform their facials while guided by board-certified Dermatologists, Physicians, and medical professionals.

With its new Colorado locations, I accepted Skin Laundry’s offer of a trial membership (Starting at $150/month). I’m happy to share my experience with Prime Women readers and post six treatments in two months.

My first appointment consisted of a medical questionnaire and assessment by an on-staff nurse. I also shared my concerns: age spots, skin texture, fine lines, wrinkles, and overall dull skin.

The first treatment was a Signature Laser facial, and with no expectations and slight skepticism, I experienced minimal heat-type pain, with redness, like a mild sunburn. Upon completion, the nurse applied their brand’s soothing Vitamin A Serum, and then I did the same once an hour for the next six hours. My family and friends commented on the glow of my skin and asked if I’d been out in the sun. I also noticed a healthier glow to my skin on this first treatment, while the redness dissipated after a day or two.

The next four appointments utilized the resurfacing Thermo Fractional Facials, again with slightly more heat-type pain and more redness than the laser.

My most recent Ultra Duo Facial appointment started with the Signature Laser facial (deep clean), followed by the Thermo-Fractional facial (skin resurfacing). This treatment lasted longer (about 30 minutes), with increasing to moderate heat-pain but bearable. I also experienced a deeper (sunburn) redness to the skin, and this redness lasted longer, up to a week, although fading gradually.

After six facial treatments in two months, the skeptic-me is surprised that I’m a fan of the results. My skin is smoother with improved skin tone and lightening of age spots. While my wrinkles and fine lines are still there, I feel that they’ve improved, and believe with continued treatments, it’s likely that they’ll continue to improve.

Check out my photos above (sans foundation makeup) before and after the sixth treatment. What do you think?

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