I recently underwent my first Fractora RF (radio frequency) treatment and I thought I publish a Fractora RF review and my personal experience for anyone considering the treatment and looking for objective information from a person having undergone the procedure. Fractora RF is the most advanced procedure and claims it can deliver results comparable to CO2 laser skin resurfacing with less downtime. Complications are not commonly reported with Fractora RF and it’s doesn’t require incisions or surgery. It’s a non-invasive procedure for skin rejuvenation and since 2011 it has received multiple FDA approvals. I agree with all this 100% except we need discuss down time in more depth later in this post and what that means!
As days progress, I’ll append information to my blog. You can subscribe and get an email when I publish new articles in the right hand column. Emails only come when there is a new post on the blog.
What is Fractora RF?
†(Please see disclosure below)
Let’s begin with the official explanation of Fractora RF from InMode. I’ve taken this quote directly from the manufacturer’s website.
“Fractora delivers targeted bipolar RF energy to various selectable depths in the skin. Fractora meets and exceeds the results of fractional CO2 without the associated downtime, prolonged redness, and pigmentation drawbacks. Fractora achieves full-scale treatment depths with customizable fractional energy to improve superficial skin tone problems (photo damage) to deep textural concerns (rhytids and tightening). Clinicians can select between variable depths, densities and energy levels for results that were previously unattainable without excisional surgery.” – Inmode.com
This is an excellent article from Invasix, the manufacturer of the device, and something I reviewed before deciding to proceed. It clearly explains the benefits of Fractora RF and how it’s fundamentally different than the various lasers on the market today used in skin rejuvenation.
So, let’s move on to my personal experience with Fractora RF! As I write this, I’m post procedure day 4. I’m still in hiding, therefore, I have plenty of time to blog!
Day 0 – Fractora RF Treatment Day
The cosmetic surgeon’s office I go to didn’t candy coat anything and tell me this procedure wouldn’t hurt. It can be rather uncomfortable and the stronger the settings on the device, the more intense it can be. I had no idea what to expect never having done this before. However, I do have a high tolerance for pain.
I arrived an hour before my procedure and numbing cream was applied to my face. It needs an hour to take effect so I just read and relaxed while I waited. I was also given one Percocet (7.5 / 325) and 10 mg of Valium one hour before the procedure started. Fifteen minutes before we began, I was given an additional Percocet and Valium. I knew these medications would have little effect because pain medication and benzodiazepines don’t affect me the way they do most people. Why? I have no idea but most people would be flying high after being given that medication! For me, I felt nothing from the medication.
When it was time to begin Fractora, the numbing cream was wiped away and my skin was cleaned. I requested to add Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) to the procedure so my blood was drawn and prepared while the first two passes of Fractora were done. I held onto a tube that blew cold air and I could direct that anywhere I felt I needed to in order to cool off my skin. The head of the device was pressed flat onto my skin (we started around the lower jaw) and once I heard it a beep that section was done and the next section of skin was targeted. I was feeling pretty good at this point, I didn’t feel any pain.
But then! I started to feel stuff! Depending on the area, the feeling was quite intense. My cheeks and around my eyes hurt the most. It felt like someone stapling my face and right at the moment of intense pain, I felt a sensation of twisting and pulling at the skin. It wasn’t enough to make me tear or think of stopping but I can see some people not being able to tolerate this. On a scale of 1-10, I rated the worst pain as 4. Child birth was an 8 for me. I certainly felt this and it hurt but nothing I’d consider unmanageable. Just when you think “oh my god, this is getting bad”, it’s over or the device is back to an area that isn’t as sensitive. Some medical providers offer nerve blocks. If you are very sensitive to pain, ask about that because it might be a good option.
The other thing I noticed was a burning smell. I thought maybe it was the peach fuzz on my face but nope! It was skin (yum yum)! After a while, I didn’t notice it anymore and it didn’t bother me too much. Two passes were completed on my face before we took a break and that took about 15 minutes. My blood was ready now to incorporate for the final passes. The PRP was massaged onto my skin and the stamping process resumed but the head was replaced with a different pin configuration. Once everything was done, the last of the PRP was massaged into my skin and I finished. I specifically requested PRP to be incorporated but this procedure is often done without it.
Reality check: My husband drove me home (horrified by the blood smeared all over my face). No one wanted to sleep with me that night, except the dog and Noah, my 8 year old. Gigi, my Yorkie, thought I smelled delicious. I should mention, Noah insisted on going along for the procedure and watched the entire time. He was positively fascinated and wants everyone to know that he removed a dead bloody lizard from the house one day (with gloves) and he can handle anything that comes his way! Go Noah! Perhaps, that’s a future surgeon in the backseat!
After the procedure my skin was bright red but hard to see since I wore the blood plasma mask until the next morning. This is the best I’m going to look for the next few days. I kept reminding myself, no pain no gain. I slept in my blood mask and I there was no pain that night. Actually, I slept quite well.
Medications prescribed post treatment:
- Methylprednisolone 21 Day Pack
- Valtrex 2g / 2x per day (They give this to everyone whether you get cold sores or not – I never had a cold sore but took all medication as prescribed)
Post-Fractora Day 1 (Saturday)
The day after the procedure, my skin felt warm and tight. It was comparable to a moderate sunburn. In the morning, when I woke up, I gently washed the dried blood off my face with Cetaphil cleanser and applied Aquaphor. I’d recommend something other than Cetaphil because there is fragrance in it and it bothered me. I was sort of shocked as no one has posted day after photos so I didn’t have anything to compare my results to. My skin was red and I was bit concerned over some of the marks I saw on my face. I thought it may have been bruises coming in or superficial burns. If you’ve ever had even a minor burn, it’s extremely painful. I didn’t have pain so I didn’t think the marks were burns. I sent photos to my esthetician and she said everything looked as expected. That gave me comfort and I proceeded through my day applying Aquaphor and hiding from the rest of the world. (Be kind if you comment, it’s not easy to share photos when you know you look horrific!)
By the end of Day 1, some redness subsided but the marks on my forehead and cheeks were scabby and very prevalent. They looked and felt like abrasions and you can see the orderly pattern of pin pricks when you look closely at the skin.
I stayed inside the house and I hear most patients do during this early stage. I should also mention, my whole face itched. Even my ear lobes itched and they weren’t treated. I took some Benadryl hoping I’d fall asleep and itching would subside by tomorrow. Benadryl never stops anything from itching for me and it doesn’t make me tired so I did my best to ignore the itching. I’d like to add that I’d rather slowly burn up in acid than itch. ITCHING IS THE WORST SENSATION AND IT’S ABSOLUTE TORTURE TO ME. If there’s one thing that I struggle with, it’s itching. I’d choose pain over itching any day.
Post Fractora – Day 2 (Sunday)
There wasn’t much of a change since Day 1. I had hoped for more. My skin really red but it wasn’t warm anymore. There were abrasions everywhere as you can see in the photos. It’s as if though more showed up out of nowhere! My husband is making up his own words to the tune of Phil Collins “Take A Look At Me Now” adding some creative lyrics about what a “f-in mess I am”. You can hear it now, right? Mmm hmm, real cute. If you’re reading this and feeling a bit down about the side effects, I hope I made you smile.
My skin was still itching really bad. I noticed the swelling subsided as the day progressed. Swelling is usually worse in the morning after any procedure. Sometimes sleeping with a treated area elevated can help minimize swelling but I can’t get comfortable and go to sleep unless I’m in my usual position. There was still no pain but I looked a bit worse as there was some minor bruising on my cheeks that appeared on the second day. The uneven swelling also made me look a bit distorted.
Post Fractora – Day 3 and 4 (Monday & Tuesday)
Nothing appeared to look worse on days 3 or 4 but let’s clarify down time now! To me, down time is the period of time someone else can easily detect you had a procedure done. My skin was fully in tact and I could head out with sunscreen to do anything at this point but I didn’t want to. I thought I looked like I was mauled by a bear so I considered myself to be experiencing down time.
Reality Check: Down time and appearing to be healed is not the same. When planning procedures, you really have to clarify down time versus the time you can successfully hide what you did with makeup, clothing, etc. Skin is in tact and can be protected with sunscreen so the reality is, I’m no longer down and could be out and about. But let’s be honest. Nothing could get me out except Einstein’s coffee and wheat bagel toasted with Nutella. Other than that, I wasn’t going anywhere!
On the evening of day 3, I did speak to a representative from Invasix (InMode) to confirm if the abrasions were typical and should still persist. I couldn’t find any reviews or photos of anyone showing the healing process. Was I right on the mark? Worse than usual? Better than usual? I had no idea. The customer service for Invasix is outstanding and they responded to me immediately. And yes, they confirmed abrasions are common especially in areas that are boney like the forehead and chin. And that’s exactly where I’ve got them. So, I felt everything was normal and I was pretty comfortable with where things stood.
I still can’t hide anything with makeup because the surface of my skin isn’t smooth. Also, I really didn’t want to put anything on my skin other than what is necessary because I didn’t want to irritate it or prolong the healing. There are still abrasions everywhere but redness has calmed down, swelling has significantly improved, and by the end of day 4… I think the itching is nearly over.
I wish there was a way to get the abrasions to heal faster. My esthetician recommended TNS Skin Recovery Complex twice a day but I ran out of the product and it’s quite expensive. I started using another recovery cream called A-Derma Epitheliale A.H Duo. I just happened to have it on hand and picked it up in Canada last year. It’s for use after minor dermatologic procedures and is supposed to promote faster healing of damaged skin. It didn’t burn or make my skin red after applying it. It’s very moisturizing and not greasy. I’m actually loving this cream so I’m continuing to use and adding a light layer of Aquaphor over the top. You can find it on Amazon and it’s about $25 a tube.
So, this is where I currently am in the healing process and I’ll be back next week to report progress. Have I noticed any positive changes? Yes…. I am very sensitive and critical of how the skin looks under my eyes and right now, that skin looks smoother. It’s possible what I’m seeing is minor residual swelling but I think it’s the effects of the Fractora. While my skin is red, I can tell the tone is becoming more even. This is evident to me after I wash my face and have no products on at all.
It’s going to take a couple weeks for my skin to completely clear up. It also takes time for collagen to rebuild so the full results won’t be seen for a few months. At this point in time, despite looking like something tried to scratch my eyes out, I’m glad I went through with the procedure and will likely plan a final treatment 6 months from now. It must be properly timed with cosmetic fillers so I’m planning fillers in 2 weeks and Fractora 6 months later. That’s the current plan!
Whether I like it or not, tomorrow I have family things planned since my kids are on fall break so I’ll be out in public. If you hear of anyone claiming to have been mauled by a bear in Phoenix, Arizona, that’s probably me.
Stay tuned for more updates! Have you had Fractora RF or been interested in this procedure? I’d love to hear from you!
† Disclosure: This post is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice from your licensed medical provider or other qualified health provider with questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to an emergency room, or call 911 immediately.
I am not affiliated with Invasix or Inmode and this post is not sponsored or produced at the request of the manufacturer or provider of the services.