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Would NOT Recomment IPL for Freckles and Sun Spots

Went to dermatologist for consult about having...

Went to dermatologist for consult about having some freckles & sun spots removed. After a quick look at my face, the doctor said he could remove everything with 1 session of IPL for $600. I'd become increasingly self-conscious of minor blemishes and dark spots left behind by sun damage and acne. I said I wanted to do it. The doctor told the nurse to prep me right away. I stopped him saying I had to work tomorrow (I bartend), and since the recovery time is 1-2 wks, I should reschedule. He brushed it off saying I should be fine tomorrow, it was minor &I'd be able to work. His nurse chimed in repeating the same. I was reluctantly persuaded to have it done that day.

They numbed my face and right before the precedure was done, the nurse handed me a short 1 page consent and disclaimer form to sign. She seemed put out when I insisted on reading it first. I had it done.

Aftercare- I had to prompt for insturctions beyond bacitracin oinment and no lotion for 2 weeks. I asked about make-up since they said I sould work the next day. She wasn't sure.

Needless to say I couldn't work the next day, or the one after that, or the one after that. I've lost 4 days work, (5 shifts) so far and will lose at least one more. So the real cost of this procedure is actually easily twice what I paid. Add to it, my face is now swollen, blotchy and patchy, this has NOT been a good experience. I am afraid my face is going to end up worse off than it was before as the spots seem to be forming dark pigments on my skin (after the original spot was shed).

Can anyone take a look and let me know if I should be worried. The last pictures are of day 5 after. I seem to lood worse and worse.

Absolutely no aftercare. I had to do everything...

Absolutely no aftercare. I had to do everything and ask myself. My skin is now worse off than it was before I ever saw him and his doctors. I definitely do not recommend his practice.

New York Dermatologic Surgeon

He and his nurse just wanted my money. Despite my protest that I had to work the next day, they went back on their word about 1-2 week recovery period and said I'd be fine the next day. I was not fine and have lost a lot of money losing a week of work. And my face doesn't seem to be healing right. It's swollen and splotchy and rough.

1 out of 5 stars Overall rating
2 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
1 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
1 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
2 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
1 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
3 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
3 out of 5 stars Payment process
2 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Comments (76)

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Looking at your pictures and reading your story, it seems like you have had another type of laser treatment, such as CO2, YAG, or else. Again, by reading your explanation and looking at your pictures, it does not look familiar in any way to IPL. It has been a while so I hope everything is fine by now.
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I did the treatment for the same reason you were probably considering it, it sounded like it was actually good for my skin, and it was something I considered to be a treat and non invasive. I was wrong. I'm glad you aren't going to go through with this and took our experiences to heart. It's not a procedure to take lightly, as many would like people to believe. Congrats on your upcoming wedding! :)
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Ouh,,,,,im so sorry,,i was just considering to do this treatment, now,,and thats before my wedding I'm sooo over it after all this negative comments...i already had a bad experience after my second restylane treatment under eye.,first was good ,,second look like too much and now I've got bags,,the same lady at the med,spa,who did my eyes,recommended the ill..i have very mild rosacea that i can cover easy when make up on,,no wrinkles,and very few open pores on chick,just dry skin,,,so I'm considering a less invasive treatment,,,maybe a micro derma abrasion?or just nice mask,,scrub moisturizing treatment before wedding and thats it!!im afraid we women fall often into the trap of vanity,,,and many of us don't accept what we are,,and don't realize until we do something like this that damage us,and we think,was it worth it??by the way you seamed you didn't need a all a treatment,,why did u do it in first place??hope u heel soon!!greets from an italian living in finland

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Don't go to the next sessions if you don't feel it's worth it. You can tell them if you don't get your money back for the ipl treatments you haven't had yet then you will file with the office of professional misconduct and report the bbb. I'm 34, did you see my pics? I got it when I was 33, for me it was a bad idea and has permanantley altered my skin.
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OMG!!! I just had an IPL-LHE Photo rejuvenation last Saturday..and I have 4 more sessions left, which i should have every after 2 weeks as per their instructions!!! I wanted to improve my skin as I just recently noticed that I have wrinkles already and Im ONLY 31!!! Is Radio Frequency as harmful as IPL as well??? I hope someone could help me out here.. I am sooooo worried now and Im torn between forgetting about having it again and moving on with the last 4 sessions I have (which i have already paid for)!!!!
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Thank you for sharing your stories. Because of your stories, I just cancelled my IPL treatment. I am going to keep trying to find a safer procedure. Thanks again!
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I'm so glad realself gives us every opportunity to ask questions, post concerns, encouragement or disencouragement at that, and most importantly allow people to provide experiences of our procedures without any kind of bias. That's what makes forums like these work;).
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Debates are healthy. They give everyone a chance to ponder both sides!
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I skimmed through the whole thing ... wow. Thank you everyone. As upsetting as it might have been to many of you, the back-and-forth with Pl3ski made this thread into a powerful debate and ended up to be extremely effective. I am truly sorry for those who had a very bad experience and thank you so much for sharing your painful stories. I want all of you to know that, because of your stories, I now decided to stay away from this seemingly easy & quick solution to my very minor skin problem. Just doesn't seem to be worth it. I really hope things will get better over time for those whose skin was damaged... Thank you, again.
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That's what we're all here for. Hope we didn't scare the witts out of you, I second your decision;)
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Im sorry Bouncy. You have to contact your derm right away so that he.she can give you something to help either slow or stop any potential scarring. You can look at my review, I didn't burn either but I'm scarred post my ipl sessions.
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I had just one treatment of IPL on my chin for hair removal now three weeks later i have dents that are very clearly in the shape of the rectangle. I had NO burning or side effects at the time and thought everything was wonderful. Now these scary dents. I will find out the machine next week. I guess I just hope they go away? but where there is fat loss does that 'heal'? I regret so much getting this done and wish Id just stuck with my daily one hour plucking session :( I hope everyone who has damage will take the time to write about it please! People need to know what these machines can do as your 'technician' certainly wont tell you!
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I like researching especially when it comes to my face.. Defiantly don't want to get in debate here, that being said sadly I think a lot of reviews (not just on this topic) can be tainted by under trained people performing procedures they shouldn't be or on people they shouldn't just for the money. I've seen several where people with a bad result to something said they had a bad feeling or felt bullied. Go with your gut. Unfortunatly these people are out there making it really hard to decide if something is worth it.
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Yes, I think everything that can be said on the matter, with the exception of Anon's updates, has been said.

Good luck.
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What it sounds like to me, and in my opinion, is he is trying to mitigate the lipid peroxidation. A quick search of medical journals and dermatological journals have turned up that IPL is shown to cause lipid peroxidation, as I've posted in my previous posts. I would assume you know that peroxidation is not a preferred side effect of any procedure.

For those who don't know what this is, here the definition of lipid peroxidation (courtesy of Wikipedia):

"Lipid peroxidation refers to the oxidative degradation of lipids. It is the process in which free radicals "steal" electrons from the lipids in cell membranes, resulting in cell damage."

Lipid peroxidation is not a 'good thing', it is a negative thing. It is a purported 'side effect' of IPL, referred to in the previous posts I have provided. This doctor is using anti-oxidants in an attempt to counter act or mitigate the peroxidiation. Thus, by virtue of the fact that he went to the trouble to research and write a paper, he agrees and is inferring that there does in fact seem to be a negative issue with IPL in this lipid peroxidation process and he addresses it by using an anti-oxidant in an attempt to mitigate that negative side effect.

I don't know that anyone who's ever had IPL was told, and as you made mention in a prior post, of this negative lipid peroxidation potential prior to having IPL treatment, or that there's even a slight chance it is a side-effect of IPL.

Of course, I'm no scientist either but I did have my brother-in-law who is a molecular biologist read over some of the papers on this particular aspect (lipid peroxidation)of IPL and he stated he would not have nor would he suggest anyone have IPL treatments if lipid peroxidation is a side-effect or even a possible side-effect.


"If not terminated fast enough, there will be damage to the cell membrane, which consists mainly of lipids. Phototherapy may cause hemolysis by rupturing red blood cell cell membranes in this way[1]

In addition, end-products of lipid peroxidation may be mutagenic and carcinogenic.[2] For instance, the end-product malondialdehyde reacts with deoxyadenosine and deoxyguanosine in DNA, forming DNA adducts to them, primarily M1G".

This is not to say that IPL causes cancer or DNA damage, but if lipid peroxidation occurs or even if there is just the outside chance that it may occur during an IPL treatment, and iterative treatments are a part of the equation, is could very well be opening pathways that may not otherwise be opened. If I were informed of this I would avoid that possibility,thus not have IPL treatments.

My goal is to educate those who may not know about even the outside chance of lipid peroxidation, so they can make an informed decision prior to having an IPL treatment.

Those who read here now have the chance to mull over the scientific data I have made available. Do with it as they will. At least be informed of all sides of this issue, good/bad, positive/negative.

Like you stated you have done a great deal of research on IPL, as have I. I've posted the results above. I did not create this research, it was done by others, doctors and scientists alike, far more qualified than I am but at least it is out there now for others to read and make up their own minds.

And with this, I'm done on this subject. People will ultimately do as they please, but when they do I hope that after they read this information that they will at least be able to make a more informed decision.

I appreciate the opportunity to have a calm, exchange backed up by scientific research. Adieu.
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That article is of a technical nature best peer reviewed by experts, not laypeople like me.

However, in my opinion he's simply trying to improve on a procedure he's already supporting. It is in no way stating that people should cease to use IPL.
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Sorry, forgot to give credit to the author of that last paper, Bruce Freedman. He's a Duke educated PS who uses lasers in his practice, so not a 'fringe' anti-laser element.
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Funny you should ask that...this study is from 2009. They were trying to minimize lipid peroxidation from IPL. Hmm...must be real this lipid peroxidation thing...still hanging around in 2009.

J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2009 Sep;11(3):142-5

"Intense pulsed light therapy (IPL) has been associated with erythema and increased lipid peroxidation. Polyphenolic antioxidants have been shown to decrease inflammation and reduce oxidative stress in irradiated skin. Objective: To determine whether the topical application of polyphenolic antioxidants to IPL-treated skin reduced the adverse effects of IPL exposure."
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The article is fine, saying close monitoring of people who get IPL a lot should be done, except that the article itself is four years old already.

It begs the question whether any evidence to support its assertions of oxidative stress has been found since 2007.

I'm sure anti-IPL groups would have seized on any which back up this rather old and 'flash in the pan' article.
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The well-received study on IPL produced lipid peroxides by Oliver Sorg (well-known German researcher) published in the Archives of Dermatology in 2007 study brought to light his concerns with iterative use of IPL causation of lipid peroxides. That study is commented on as follows by Dr Craig A. Elmets, MD. Dr. Elmets is a US doc, btw. All of these respected scientists and doctors seem to have a common thread, they sound to me as though they feel that not enough is known about IPL in iterative use as it was and has not been studied with that focus.

"The implication of this study is that IPL treatment may not be without consequences. Although IPL irradiation did not affect thymine dimer production because the light source does not emit in the UV range, it did produce considerable amounts of lipid peroxides, an indicator of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been associated with a number of deleterious effects; beyond premature aging of the skin, it has been shown to promote skin cancer in experimental animal models. Although these molecular studies do not necessarily mean that long-term adverse effects will ensue, the results point to our ignorance of IPL’s lasting effects. Many highly effective therapies have had adverse effects that were not fully identified until years after regulatory approval. Until IPL has been in active use for a while longer, continuing follow-up of patients remains important."
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When you read a "study" you need to dig a little deeper and read between the lines. Anyone can create a study to support their agenda. This study did not say that IPL produced a dangerous amount of lipid peroxides and did not clarify if any products were used on the skin. You should always look for something called P-value at the end of a clinical study - google it.

Are bodies are subject to free radicals and oxidative stress all day. Eating and breathing introduce free radicals. Oxygen can cause oxidative stress - I guess we should all stop breathing.

Most of these oxygen-derived species are produced at a low level by normal aerobic metabolism and the damage they cause to cells is constantly repaired.

Short-term oxidative stress may also be important in prevention of aging by induction of a process named mitohormesis. Reactive oxygen species can be beneficial, as they are used by the immune system as a way to attack and kill pathogens.

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This is a months' old discussion and one I don't care to revisit in totality. You're right, WE can ALL find 'studies' to support what we need them to support. However, the scariest thing of all is the FDA does not require clinical trials to get any of these devices approved via the 501(k) processes which is how they are all approved. That is vitally more important than the clinical trials that supposed support these devices since the device makers do their own to get 501(k) approval or done by doctors who take remuneration from the device makers, these ARE NOT independent, third party studies that garner the FDA 501(k) approval.
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Well, it's pretty specific about the theoretical nature of its assumptions.

IPL has been around for 15 years now, plenty of time to compile some harder evidence I'd think.

The lack of said evidence against the broad use of IPL is pretty telling.

On the contrary, the strict instruction for IPL users to cover up and SPF30+ up if they want to maintain their results would be beneficial against skin cancer.
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Oh, there's also this study that I found very interesting on the possible, deleterious affect of IPL, used iteratively. It was written by Craig G. Burkhart, MPH, MD from the Medical University of Ohio. His last paragraph is a disclaimer but the article was totally fascinating. It was from the International Journal of Dermatology, cautioning other doctors of the possible (he says possible and does not use scare tactics) negative side effects. He was so concerned he wrote a though article on his concerns. I find his concerns quite sobering.

"Theoretically, the new, more powerful lasers and IPLs may cause delayed deleterious side-effects. In short, photons of
electromagnetic energy are a highly energetic form of energy.

Depending on the wavelength, laser energy will be transmitted
through skin layers and preferentially absorbed by a specific tissue chromophore, such as melanin, hemoglobin, nucleic
acids, amino acids, carotene, or urocanic acid in the skin.

From studies with ultraviolet light, melanoma appears to be related to intense, intermittent exposures. The wavelength dependence of the induction of melanoma and alterations in cancer parameters, such as the tumor suppressor gene CDKN2A
and oncogenes N-ras and H-ras , have not been studied in the light of these higher energy sources of electromagnetic energy.

In short, there are concerns about the long-term safety of lasers and IPLs, including the possible risk of melanoma. Little work has been performed to assess cancer development with these particular wavelengths, despite the fact that the manufacturers are continually adding extra power to their units.

It should be noted that any association of skin cancer with lasers is purely an assumption, as there have been no reports of problems in the literature. Nonetheless, physician monitoring
for such potential problems appears to be warranted."
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That article just states that the same precautions should be used for IPL as laswer treatments, eg clear diagnosis and expert use of the machinery, to avoid unwanted side effects.

It is neither pro nor anti IPL.
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