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Beauty Experiment: IPL Machine to Fade Scars
The villains of this story are a broken arm, an itchy plastic brace and a prolific stack of medical bills. The setting is an orthopedics practice where, after six months, a surgeon proclaims that the arm just won't heal. The plot involves an operation, nine titanium screws, a six-inch rust-colored scar—and me, one epically exhausted protagonist. So when the beauty department arranges for Cheryl Karcher, MD, of Sadick Dermatology, to take a pair of high-powered, skin-smoothing, redness-reducing lasers to my scar, I enthusiastically agree: Losing that red menace gets me closer to forgetting the whole awful experience ever happened. First, Karcher treats me with the Cutera LimeLight, an IPL (intense pulsed light) machine that reduces pigmentation. Since I've applied a numbing cream 30 minutes prior to the treatment, it feels like she's flicking me with a rubber band. After a week of healing, the scar pales dramatically. (I cry with joy.) Next comes the more intense Fraxel Dual laser, which stimulates collagen beneath the skin's surface—I won't lie, that one hurts—and which utterly obliterates the puckering. (I cry again.) Then another week, another IPL, and another shade lighter (and more tears) brings Karcher's assurance that one or two more sessions will render the scar nearly imperceptible. I'm looking forward to my happy ending. ($400 to $800 per IPL session, $750 to $1,500 per Fraxel session; physicians' offices)

Verdict: Do it!

—Katie Arnold-Ratliff, senior editor


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