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When Does Peeling Start After Photofacial?

How long does it take for the face to peel after a Photofacial? I got my first one done on Friday and it is now almost Tuesday and my face hasn't peeled at all. Is this normal?

Doctor Answers 12

Normally there is no peeling after a photo facial

Photo facials consist of IPL treatments of red and brown discoloration of the skin.  The IPL component that treats broken capillaries and diffuse redness just affects the vessels in the dermis, so it should not cause any peeling.

The IPL component that treats brown discoloration does affect the surface of the skin, but what is seen is the pigment initially getting darker, then breaking down into "coffee grounds" type tiny brown spots that eventually are shed from the surface.

So there should not be any peeling after a photo facial.

Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

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Peeling after a Photofacial

After laser treatments (or IPL) for sun damage, we typically see pigment "flake" off rather than peel off anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks after treatment. "Peeling" is not expected to occur after an photofacial in general and definitely not if facial redness or fine lines were being treated. The only peeling would be the flaking off of age spots and sun damage.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Usually there is no intended peeling with a photofacial

Thank you for your question. In general, a photofacial refers to IPL or other laser treatment of redness, facial vessels, and lentigos/brown spots/photodamage. There is usually no peeling with any of these with the exception that the brown spots may appear darker themselves, and then later flake off. When getting a photofacial, the results are gradual without much downtime or peeling. Peeling after laser procedures is usually seen in ablative fractional and non-fractional resurfacing laser procedures, such as the CO2 or Erbium lasers. In all cases, please speak with your physician about the post-procedure care and expectations.

Don Mehrabi, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Photofacial therapy in Los Angeles

Our office specializes in IPL facials in Los Angeles. We use a combination protocol for our photofacials that includes application of creams before and after the photofacial session. The combination of IPL + creams allows for a more definitive improvement in surface sun damage, complexion, photoaging, and solar lentigenes.


Photofacials help improve brown discoloration and broken capillaries that cause surface redness on the skin. Brown discoloration can further be improved with application of Melarase creams twice daily (Melarase AM and Melarase PM).


Downtime is relatively minimal compared to other treatments. Our office employs the Limelight technology and we feel this is an excellent modality in terms of its safety and efficacy.




Dr. Karamanoukian  

Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

No peeling after photofacial

Your face won't peel but it may get red and sometimes swelling can occur as well. Scabs will appear but don't pick them. 

Peeling after a photofacial

The face doesn't really "peel" after a photofacial.The brown spots that become darker brown will flake off, but it is not really noticeable peeling. It typically takes 4-7 days for the brown spots to flake off.

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

"Peeling" begins within 3-5 days

Do not expect the type of peeling you would see from a chemical peel. During the treatment, the pigmentation is drawn to the surface and will being to flake off in 3-5 days. 

Laura Skellchock, MD
Boca Raton Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

IPL should not cause peeling

IPL treatments should not cause peeling.  Instead IPL treatments may cause flaking of the treated area.  This flaking can occur a few days to a week out from treatment.

Sam Naficy, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 153 reviews

Photofacial does not cause peeling

Photofacials with intense pulsed light do not cause peeling.  Brown spots turn darker and crispy and flake off in about one week.  Spider veins fade.  The light penetrates into the skin and stimulates collagen but does not affect the surface skin cells, so peeling does not occur.

Martie Gidon, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

There is no peeling after photofacial

You can expect peeling after chemical peels or laser resurfacing, but not after Photo facial. Bronzing of the brown pigmentation and darkening of the blood vessels are the most common skin reactions after the IPL. It usually takes 7-10 days for the pigmentation to flake off after the treatment.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.