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3 IPL Spot Treatments with No Result - Stockholm, Sweden

I am a 32 year-old Caucasian female. I decided to...

I am a 32 year-old Caucasian female. I decided to try IPL on a spot between my upper lip and nose following a large, white bump that had appeared there when I caught a cold in May 2011. I was told by a pharmacist that it was a case of the herpes I virus and gave me some antiseptic for it, which I did apply. Although I get cold sores on and around my lips several times per year on average, I had never experienced a breakout beneath the skin. I thought it may just be a nasty pimple (I get those intermittently on my chin) and squeezed it to see whether I could pop it...When this failed following a couple of attempts, I left it alone and it went away after several days. Between the months of June and August, I was exposed to strong sunlight at high altitude (in Colorado) on a daily basis without applying any sun protection...I acknowledge that both moves were extremely stupid on my part. In the first instance, I thought I was doing myself a favor; I had popped pimples before to empty them of pus with no subsequent scarring. In the second case, I am not really sure what I was thinking, if at all...

The reddish-pink spot you see on the pictures is what has remained since. According to two specialists, the spot is a combination of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and broken capillaries. After much research, including consulting with my family doctor, a dermatologist, a plastic surgeon and three cosmetologists and reading posts on this forum, I decided to take the risk and try IPL. I went to one cosmetologist I found online, who told me she would not be able to treat the spot, because it is too faint. She recommended I go to another place, where I was told the spot could be reduced by about 80%. The specialist answered all my questions and dissuaded my fears as to potential damage I was concerned with.

I received 3 IPL treatments in 2012 - on April 23, May 14 and June 7. Neither I nor the specialist noticed any change following any of the three sessions. She explained that this may be due to the tiny size of the capillaries that had been broken as a result of the abrasion/squeezing. She did not charge me for the third session due to lack of results and suggested that if I am intent on trying again - which I very much am - I should come back in September to reduce risk from sun exposure. I should note that I have been wearing SPF 55 religiously following each IPL treatment.

Re: post-treatment side-effects, I have had none except for the second treatment, when the specialist applied more "zaps", albeit at the same setting. The spot reddened significantly, and I believe there was some very slight burning of the epidermis. However, following 4 days, the spot went back to its original color. During the procedures, I felt the same sensation frequently described by other users - each zap felt like the snapping of a rubber band against my face.

Despite being satisfied with the service provider, I am - needless to say - disappointed with the results. I have serious issues with this blemish, for which I am considering psychological counseling. Although those whom I have told about the spot claim that it is barely noticeable, it is very much noticeable and irritating to me. My self-esteem has plummeted to rock bottom and I have extreme difficulty concentrating on anything, because all I can think about is how to get rid of this ugly blemish. It has interfered on all levels of my life. IPL was my best shot of removing this thing and now it seems my last hopes have been destroyed, but I will try again in September.

Petra Lagerdahl

I forgot to mention the office where I went is called Stockholm Medical Skincare Center.

4 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
4 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
4 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
4 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Hi this might sound crazy, but how about plastic surgery to remove this blemish. I realize you will likely have some scarring, but perhaps the minimal scar is better than what you are dealing with now. I don't know, but I think maybe consulting a plastic surgeon and at least getting an opinion is worth the time and effort considering you are suffering so much. Best of luck to you, I hope everything works out. JB
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Hej helloworld!

Thank you very much for your kind words. I do empathize with you, and this empathy somehow makes it just a little bit easier to manage. I still haven't gone to a therapist. I am living in Sweden, and I speak the language only on a very basic level. I did find a therapist who offers sessions in English, but the sessions are quite expensive...I have decided to go for a laser consultation in September, although the IPL specialist that performed my treatments said that the spot is too light for that. So, I am not holding my breath...

Have you decided on IPL treatment or any other treatment? How is it going with the therapy?

All the best, and please keep in touch!
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Hi zulamaria: Thank you for your detailed post and for being brave and sharing your story and photos. You are a beautiful person, inside and out. I hope you find some relief by being able to discuss this issue with a professional trained to listen and ask the right questions. I can relate to alot of what you say, as I am going through a similar ordeal with my skin, whereby I have become fixated on marks that are on my face, but not necessarily noticeable to the casual (or even not-so-casual!) observer. I have been suffering with this for close to a year, in terms of newly intense anxiety and obsession. I also just started seeing a therapist, as I want to talk about what I am experiencing with an objective person who can hopefully help me find my way back to my life as I once knew it. I, too, have been researching IPL, as my dermatologist said it would help improve the overall redness in m face which I tend to have (especially when using tretinoin). I just hope you know you're not alone in what you're feeling and thinking. I'm glad you started this discussion thread--it's helping me to read everyone's comments. Let us know how you're doing.

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Hey again msty, thank you so much for your encouraging words. All that you say makes perfect sense, I just wish I was knew *how* to implement your good advice. Every time I try to relax, I end up stressing myself out even more because I invariably fail to loosen up...

jnine, thank you for your comment. I have in fact looked into Dermablend's green concealer. I should stress that I don't wear any makeup; I hate the stuff. However, at this point I am considering purchasing it. Do I combine it with some sort of foundation or powder in my skin tone?

So glad to have support here! Thank you, all!
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Have you ever thought about using a concealer such as Dermablend (it's pretty amazing and can be used to cover tattoos, scars, etc---think it's waterproof too)? It might be helpful just for the peace of mind until you're able to find a solution for treatment. My heart goes out to you. It's really barely noticeable, and you could have far worse problems! Hang in there, chica. Big hugs.
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Hey msty, thank you for your comment! I think your advice is very good, and I realize that patience and gentleness are one of the most valuable tools we have in healing our bodies. I have always been gentle with my skin - I only use gentle soaps and, more recently, face washes (no exfoliating scrubs or tonics, etc.). I use nothing but Home Health's Almond Oil as a moisturizer (all natural oils, no chemicals/preservatives, artificial fragrances or colors), and that's only when I notice that my skin needs it. I wear no makeup. Although I was insecure in my high school years (who hasn't been!), I developed a very strong sense of self-confidence about my physical appearance during my college years, and I have been very happy with my looks since (even though I have light blemishes and wrinkles in other places on my face). This particular spot has completely thrown me off, and I want nothing more than to get rid of it. I have been dealing with this for over a year now with no signs of improvement (thankfully, I haven't noticed it getting any worse). I know that being hasty can sometimes be counter-productive, but how much longer do I have to wait...Is there anything else in addition to what you mentioned above that you did to get rid of your acne and scarring?

May I ask whether you have pursued any IPL or laser treatment options?
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i can barely see the little spot that your talking about... but i know u might c things differently. the only thing that i think helped me out the most with acne is i stoped stressing out alot.. and that helped me out with taking it easy on my skin. i know its easy to say stop stressing. but it takes mind training . i bet if u really try u can get over d feeling u hav over that little spot.. i learned ur body reacts to the things u feel.. although my acne scars are not 100% gone i do c them dissapearing more..
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i can barely see the little spot that your talking about... but i know u might c things differently. the only thing that i think helped me out the most with acne is i stoped stressing out alot.. and that helped me out with taking it easy on my skin. i know its easy to say stop stressing. but it takes mind training . i bet if u really try u can get over d feeling u hav over that little spot.. i learned ur body reacts to the things u feel.. although my acne scars are not 100% gone i do c them dissapearing more..
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hi.. i can relate to the depression you feel about acne and scars that cause them.. i myself went through that i felt soo miserable about it at a time..actually that is one of the reosons i camed across this website while i was doing my research on laser treatments.. this site has helped alot of people understand whats going on with side effects..Well i noticed the more i tryed to help my acne and the scarring the worst thing got.. my skin was already sensetive and putting all of these face acne treatments and face scrubs was making things worst... the best thing we can all do is to be gentle with our skin.. look for gentle face wash..eat healthy .. work out a bit..and let time heal you.. it certainly did for me alot ! i have nomore acne and my scars are barely noticeable..we gotta b gentle with ourselves we can fix our blemishes and things if we just be patient and be gentle with our skin..our skin willl respond wonderfully. hope u get better..
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Hello, needaprocedurenow! Thank you very much for your insight. I had actually researched body dysmorphia disorder already; I very much empathize with you, too.

I am not sure if the spot in question comes across as raised in the pictures due to the lighting or the camera settings or what...or if you are looking at the mole on my upper lip (which is a birthmark that does not bother me in the least; my dermatologist confirmed it poses no medical threat), but the blemish I am referring to (between my upper lip and nose on the right side of my face) is indeed flat. There was a raised bump there before, but it went away entirely in a matter of days after it popped up. When I touch that area and the corresponding area on the other side of my face, I feel no difference in texture. All the doctors and "beauty" specialists I have gone to have said it is merely a "cosmetic" problem. They also agreed that laser treatment would be too invasive and could cause more damage than benefit; this is why I opted for IPL. However, at this point, I am beginning to consider laser treatment anyway. As much research as you do, there is always risk involved. Now, everyone I have talked to has said that IPL is much safer than laser, but I have also read reviews of laser therapy that have been nothing but positive and IPL reviews that have been nothing but negative.

(Re: the cold sores, Acyclovir has been recommended to me, but I would rather not medicate myself).

I have other imperfections on my face, but these do not affect me one bit. For some reason, the location, shape, size and color of this particular spot is traumatizing me beyond reason. May I ask what you do, other than counselling, to alleviate your body dysmporphia? May I also ask what you are seeking to treat with IPL?
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Hi. I just read your post while researching IPL. My heart goes out to you, because I can completely relate to minor imperfections causing great psychological distress. It is called Body Dysmorphia Disorder and I, too, suffer from it. I think counseling is an excellent idea. Having addressed that...now about your "spot." While I am a nurse, I am NOT a dermatology nurse. But I have researched almost every procedure EXTENSIVELY. So this advice is based solely on my personal experience and not on my nursing judgement. It appears from the photos that the area of concern is raised, not flat. In which case it makes sense it was unresponsive to IPL. In addition, there are vascular lasers that would be much better suited to a collection of broken capillaries or hyper-pigmentation. If you frequently have cold sores, I suspect that is probably what it is because they can be exacerbated by sun exposure AND certain lasers or light treatments. If that is your suspicion as well, I would try to treat it as such, with BOTH a topical AND oral anti-viral medication like acyclovir (of course with a doctor's approval and prescription!) If the lesion remains unchanged after that, you might consider a consult with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon about having it surgically removed and biopsied--just to rule out any cancerous or pre-cancerous cells. I am not trying to scare you and I HIGHLY doubt that is what it is, but you just can't ever be TOO cautious when it comes to new bumps on the skin. Especially when they look and feel different than anything you've had in the past. If you do choose that route, make sure you use a reputable dermatologist or plastic surgeon with lots of experience in facial surgeries so you are not left with a scar that makes you feel even MORE self conscious. They should be able to remove it quickly under local anesthesia in the office. I hope my suggestion didn't freak you out as that was most certainly not my intention. I just know with BDD, we tend to obsess over aesthetics more than our health sometimes (at least I do!) Best of luck to you and, please, keep us updated.
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Thank you for such an authentic and genuine review. I'm sorry to hear that spot is bothering you to such a degree. Since you mentioned it was causing you to not be able to concentrate, and was affecting your self esteem I think your idea of considering a counselor is a good one. I can see the spot, but it seems pretty minor, especially compared to the other beautiful features of your face. I would hate to see this continue to interfere with your life.

I'm glad that the person who did your IPL was so considerate, and didn't charge you for your 3rd treatment. I can definitely see why you would want to continue using that person, should you choose to do more IPL.

Please keep us posted on how you are doing & what you decide to do. Hugs to you!!

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Thank you very much, Megan. I will certainly post updates. This website has been very helpful in my research about IPL and the willingness of other users to post honest reviews has motivated me to do the same. It's not easy to post close-ups of your most-hated imperfections! Re: the counselor, I'm terrified of going, but at this point it seems like there's not much else I can do.
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I'm sorry to hear you are terrified to go to a counselor. I have been on & off throughout my life and have generally had very good experiences with them. Do you mind me asking what it is that you are afraid of with it? 

Its unfortunate that there is still a negative stigma around mental health. Its interesting to me that we are so accepting that we need to do things to keep ourselves in good physical health (eat right, exercise, avoid excessive alchohol, drugs, etc) but there is this thought that mentally we should just automatically be healthy. Life is rough and can through some curve balls at us, there is nothing wrong with proactively taking care of that part of yourself too.  What I will tell you is that its important to find a good fit. When I have talked to friends about this very thing I have compared it to dating - each person is a bit different & you need to find one that you "fit" with, so if you go to one and you just don't feel a fit, try another.

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I have never been to a counselor/psychologist, and I guess what I am most afraid of is that it would be a new and unfamiliar experience for me. It can be a hassle to go from one counselor to another to find the right fit, but I suppose you are right in that I should treat it somewhat like a dating game, which might take away some of the anxiety. I am also deathly afraid of being judged, although my rational mind tells me that a counselor is a professional who is trained to respond to her patients with respect and empathy, my ego keeps screaming, "she will think you're exaggerating beyond oblivion". I suppose I am afraid of telling a stranger that I am suffering because of a "barely noticeable" blemish on my face, when those close to me whom I have told about my problem cannot understand what "all the fuss" is about. I would not want to be laughed at again, and I don't want to come across as an ungrateful brat who has her priorities "all wrong". I am well aware that there are many people who suffer from more "serious" drama than I do and that I should be thankful that I am otherwise healthy, have a roof over my head and resources to allow me to get a good education, to travel, etc. I wish this did not bother me, but for some reason it does...and for some reason, I am incapable of fixing it on my own.

Thank you for commenting, it really does make things easier to know there are people out there who are sympathetic to the types of issues discussed on this forum. I am glad you have been able to seek and receive help, and I hope you are doing well now. :)
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I can understand the worry about being judged. Its not easy to tell someone else about the things that you perceive as flaws in yourself, its way easier to just cover them up and tell yourself they "shouldn't" bother you...but unfortunately that doesn't help them get better. Maybe as a first step with your counselor you could tell them about your fear of being judged and your level of discomfort with even being there. My guess is that will open up a great conversation and help you to build trust in them, and hopefully that will help you feel comfortable moving to the next step of discussing the blemish.

You are right, it is a hassle to try to find the right counselor, but eating healthy & exercising are hassles too yet we know they are good for us so we do the hassle.

I read something a while back that I found interesting, and it popped into my mind when you talked about how your rational mind tells you one thing, but your ego is screaming another at you. What I read talked about how our fears are a defense mechanism and our mind uses them to protect us, but sometimes they aren't right on so we have to process them logically, and that an important step in doing that is to recognize what our mind might be trying to protect us from. So for instance when you have that thought that "she will think you're exaggerating beyond oblivion" you can tell yourself "Thank you mind for trying to protect me from hurtful judgement, I appreciate why you are doing that, but the truth is that a counselor wants what is best for me, and that would not be hurtful judgement, so I don't think I'll find that there." It sounds weird & mechanical, and in some ways it very much is, but I have found it useful when I have dealt with fears like that.

Sending you a hug & believing for the best for you!! :)

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Megan, would you be willing to be my counselor, instead? ;) Thank you so much, your input is so useful! I think your recommended strategy to start off the conversation with the counselor is great - why didn't I think of that! It actually makes me feel less anxious already. I am working on scheduling an appointment in August. I will keep you updated.

A big hug to you too! :)
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I am so proud of you for working towards that first step to make an appointment - that is huge!! Good job!! Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you. :)

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