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Life Ruined As a Result of a Single IPL Treatment.. These Devices Should Be Banned.. - Toronto, ON

In August 2013, a month after I turned 28, I was...

In August 2013, a month after I turned 28, I was convinced by a medical esthetician with 14 years of experience to try IPL for some mild hormonal acne (which was temporary anyway btw..) and some mild sun damage (mostly freckles). I had very good skin overall and generally started visiting her for some mild facials and pore cleaning since my skin was breaking out more than usual that summer. She was recommended by a friend and was very kind and attentive, so I strongly doubt that she was trying to make money off of me, I truly think that she just believed that IPL was the permanent solution to my problem as the facials weren't doing much (she even gave me a significant discount on the treatments). I asked her to use the lowest settings possible, as I wasn't sure how my skin was going to respond and she did one treatment over my entire face and another one just underneath my jawline because that's were the acne was the most prominent. After the IPL, I started to notice that my skin got rougher and had a weird feel/look to it. There was also a lot of inflammation/irritation for almost 2 weeks (if not more), which seemed to come and go - I used some chamomile teabags and oatmeal to sooth the skin, so that helped a little. Then, I started to notice that my skin developed a bizarre lined texture that some of the women on this forum describe (I don't want to post pix atm as this experience has been traumatic enough, I don't want people that I know to see them - although I might upload some later that don't really show my full face). I have never seen anything like this weird new skin structure - there were lines going across my entire face and crinkling on the apples of my cheeks (especially the part located closer to the nasolabial folds - which I have now developed after the IPL). Things have pretty much been downhill since then. Although my face is no longer bright red from all the inflammation, I have a thousand holes, indentations, wrinkles and hollows all over my face. I also have large indentations (more like hollows in several areas on my cheeks) which resemble the shape of the IPL machine that can be seen under certain lighting (but I have never developed brown, crusty burn marks that some people describe on here), and those large indentations/hollows are filled in with tons of cracks, large pores and small indents. I went form having completely seamless skin without a single large pore to having some crazy scarring that no one seems to know how to treat. But wait, that's not even the worst part... the worst part in this whole ordeal is the fat loss or atrophy caused by this horrendous device. The strangest thing is that I have read a ton of posts confirming that people have had fat loss after IPL (& lasers) and there is even some academic literature out there on the subject, but doctors continue to deny the fact that these machines cause this type of damage. I wasn't expecting my face to melt away in the past few months, yet looking at the pictures a few days before the IPL and comparing them to my pictures now, I can see a huge difference (and no, I did not lose weight - I have actually gained weight). My face became gaunt and for the first few months after the damage I had a hard time recognizing myself in the mirror (now I sort of got used to it, although I am still devastated..) I used to have beautiful round cheeks which made me look like a teenager... When people had to guess my age, they always assumed I was at least 5 years younger, and now I look like I am 40 even though I am only 28. A girl serving me at a coffee shop (about my age) called me 'mam' the other day. This whole 'mam' thing started after the damage, before I was always addressed as a 'miss' and I used to get ID'ed at the liquor store and bars all the time (the legal drinking age is 19 in Canada btw) - that obviously doesn't happen anymore.. I am thinking of getting a fat transfer in a couple of years (after I completely heal from the damage and will be able to take time off work), but some of the reviews regarding this procedure scare the crap out of me as well. Having gone through what I went through, it's really hard to trust anyone else with my face. At the same time, the life has been sucked out of my face and my youth was literally stolen from me by this horrible machine and I really want to do something about it.. I can't believe that I am reading the same stories from people who suffered from this damage back in 2008 and these machines are still around - if they were banned back then, I wouldn't be in this situation today. I was severely depressed for a good 4 months, and thankfully, just recently I started to find hope, but much of it resides in the fact that I will one day be able to get a fat transfer and that the texture of my skin will get better with time. I know some people say it gets worse with time, but I have seen some minor improvements in some parts of my face (at least where the damage is less severe). I've narrowed it down to using sesame oil to remove my make up (can't use cleansers, they irritate my skin), using a Kiehl's microdermabrasion scrub (if you decide to use it, be very gentle - build up your tolerance, and don't use on extremely dry skin - can cause more damage than good), Yonka's hyaluronic acid serum, and going to a steam room regularly. Also, I started doing this several months after the damage - you don't want to start "treating" it too soon or you'll make it worse.. All these have helped a little, but this damage is like nothing I have ever seen before - it's very resistant to treatment (although I haven't tried anything harsh to treat it, I read that many people who have tried TCA chemical peels, etc. had a hard time getting rid of this horrid texture). Anyways, this is my sad story - just another victim of the cosmetic industry. If anyone has any suggestions in terms of finding the right fat grafting surgeon or if anyone has been successful in treating the crazy lined laser/IPL damage-type texture, please comment below. I really hope that this review will help someone. If I had known that this "lunch-time" procedure can lead to such devastating consequences, I would have never, ever let this device touch my face...

Decided to add some photos

Sorry for hiding my face, but as I mentioned I was traumatized enough by this experience, really don't want people I know seeing my photos on here and recognizing me. Although the damage is obvious, I prefer not to talk about it too much, except for the people that I am closer with. As you can see from the pix, my face is totally flat and deflated - hard to believe that about half a year ago, I had chipmunk cheeks and looked like a teen. You can pick up on the textural damage from the pix, but it is not very clear as all of my pix are taken by a phone camera, which tends to automatically blend things out. It actually looks worse in real life. Hope these prevent people from getting this horrendous treatment..

please watch this

I think it's very important for people considering IPL to watch this video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ikR4m9XhmY - it talks about 100s of cases of IPL and laser burns being investigated. As for my experience - I have stated before: the individual that used the IPL on me had 14 years of experience, she also used the lowest setting, so although experience can be a factor, I think it depends on a lot of other factors and not necessarily your skin type - as I was technically the "perfect candidate" for this procedure - white, fair skin, etc. Please be careful or you may be very sorry - having to live with the damage for the rest of my life after having nearly perfect skin before this happened is really horrible.. I know others that went through this will agree with me
Katherine

The medical aesthetician was really sweet and caring, but unfortunately, her and many other practitioners using these devices to treat people don't realize the disastrous consequences that can result either immediately after treatment or years after.. Don't assume that if you go to a doctor, you are better off.. Just read the stories of people that DID go to doctors for this treatment - it's the devices themselves that destroy people's faces..

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So sorry your experience didnt meet your expectations. At 60 years of age, I had years of sun damage removed with 2 IPL procedures on my face. The first one was2 weeks before my daughters wedding. Wanted her wedding photo's to reflect a younger dad. About 98% of the sun damage amazingly disappeared on the first procedure, with a little swelling on the first day. Minor and fine wrinkles went away, along with several small veins, almost instantly. It's been 2 years, and my skin still feels good and looks great. In your case, the technician may not have used the best equipment, and/or didn't use the correct setting? The treatment stimulates collagen production, much like hyalouronic acid. I was advised that 4 treatments would result in brand new skin. The damage and healing process eventually replaces the top layers of the skin, and all the imperfections with it. You may want to consult a different esthetician, one with state of the art laser equipment and a good patient history. I know it may sound ridiculous to even consider it, but your skin may require additional treatments to get the effect you're looking for. I sincerely beleive laser treatments when performed correctly, are safer and more dependable than surgery. I'm also confident your situation is temporary, and you will find a solution soon. Don't give up, get out there and consult with more than one esthetician. And remember, you are your own worst critic.
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I know you said the pictures don't show everything, but I have to say that I don't think it looks bad at all. Maybe if you showed before pictures as well? Still, from what I can see your skin is actually quite nice. The skin tone is good and your skin is nice and smooth looking. I understand what it's like to have a procedure change your appearance, is hard to get used to the change and sometimes we see it as worse than it is. I've definitely been there! But anyway, you've got really nice skin, and I'm sure whatever damage occurred will eventually heal completely :)
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I am a licensed aesthetician with over 15 years experience. After reading all the comments, I felt compelled to add some info. Any instrument, equipment used is ONLY as good as the technician. Experience is the best, unfortunately the aesthetician may not have had enough, or the ipl was not working correctly. This can happen if the hand piece gets old
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Which medals did you go to if you don't mind ?
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you mean which medspa? It is by the Toronto Airport, I can find out the exact name if you need it
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I'm so sorry Katherine. My heart goes out for you. I too am in a similar predicament these days due to an under eye burn that has added 20 years to my face. I used to never need make-up but now cant imagine leaving the house without it. I have heard recell spray on skin is a revolutionary advancement that might be worth looking into. Google it and see if you want to try it. Stay strong and hang in there. There are others in a similar boat. :(
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My name is not Katherine:) that was the esthetician's name. I never heard of recell but I heard of dextran hydrogel which I couldn't find for sale online (there are lots of hydrogels out there, but not this one) - either way, I think this stuff only works on new burns, but is supposed to heal without any scarring - even if you have 3rd degree burns. I will look into this recell stuff you are talking about, but I seem to have very minor, gradual improvements with 20% lactic acid peels. I am too afraid to do something like a TCA peel though. Only time will tell. I don't have the time/resources to travel to England right now, but my friend lives in London, so I can ask her to get it for me and ship it over. Let me know if it works. Good luck!
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Why are all these doctors on here praising these lasers? Are they not reading these reviews and seeing the pictures? The tech who did mine said she did know about Real Self. So why don't they warn people about the negative side effects of lasers? I was given no warning.
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I wasn't told of the risks either, only the positives. "lunch-time" procedure, collagen stimulation, great results, blah, blah... no waiver or consent form either. I consulted with a lawyer, but after doing some research I realized that it's unlikely that I'd get any compensation unless my face is completely mangled, so I didn't proceed with a lawsuit. Plus, my focus is on trying to make it better and it has been SLLOOOOWLY improving by a tiny bit (at least the texture) hence (hopefully) one day it will get better and the judge would most likely not rule in my favor, plus most doctors deny that this type of damage can happen due to IPL. As such, I figured a lawsuit would be too much of a hassle - don't want to waste my nerves, time and money and get nothing at the end.
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Do you think most laser techs honestly don't know what the risks are? I think they do.
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Was this aesthetician supervised by a doctor? If so, I would think you have a reason to complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. There might have been some error in the calibration of the machine that caused the damage, but whatever happened, the doctor in charge is responsible. Have you consulted with one of the reputable plastic surgeons and dermatologists in Toronto? This is a city with a ton of cosmetic surgery specialists and cosmetic dermatologists. It should be possible to find out what happened and a way to improve, if not completely repair, the damage. I would start with your doctor and then by calling the dermatology departments of the teaching hospitals. Once you have a name, you can get a referral from your GP. I'd also call the editorial departments of Flare, Chatelaine and Elle magazines. The beauty editors there know generally who has a good reputation. Also, try a search in the Globe and the Star for stories on cosmetic surgery. They will always produce the names of prominent, experienced surgeons. Whatever you do, don't try anything strong on your own. You need someone who has experience with fixing errors. My heart goes out to you - best of luck!
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Hey Moushka, thanks so much for your reply:) It's very thoughtful of you to provide all these suggestions. To answer your first question, no, she was not supervised by a doctor - this was a med spa - and I know what you may be thinking - "ah, there is your problem", but there are plenty of people that have the same damage as me and they did in fact go to a PS or doctor. I am not saying that there aren't any people that have had good results with this treatment, but I do believe that it is definitely not suitable for everyone, regardless of the calibration. As I said, she used the lowest settings on me and it still caused damage. Plus, I was technically "the perfect candidate" for the procedure and she had 14 years of experience, so yeah.. I know there are some petitions regarding this type of damage going around online and I believe I can report the damage to either FDA or somewhere else, but I haven't had a chance to look into it just yet (have been insanely busy) - it is on my "to-do" list though. I have seen a couple of dermatologists, but they always focus on the acne that I developed after the IPL and not the textural changes, hence they end up prescribing anti-acne topicals and that's not my main concern - the acne has been subsiding on it's own as I started to eat better and focusing on reducing my stress levels. I am more concerned with my skin texture/scarring and the volume loss. As most people on here say, dermatologists tend to deny that IPL can cause this type of damage - especially the fat/volume loss in the face. I will definitely look for specialists down the road, and again, I appreciate your suggestions, but I heard that articles published in newspapers and magazines are paid for by the plastic surgeons (sort of like advertising), hence you can't really rely on their recommendations. Is that true? Lastly, I am too scared to do anything on my own - so, that's not really a concern haha best of luck to you too:)
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Thank you for replying to me LFS. Again you are spot on here. Your story sounds almost identical to mine. I went to a dermatology office in a very reputable hospital here in Illinois. And I've seen a couple other dermatologists since then and they act like they can't see anything. They talk about acne. I really don't have acne anymore. I don't think they want to say anything about laser damage. They don't want to get involved. These lasers absolutely do cause damage and these doctors should be honest about the risks. The ones who say there are no risks are flat out lying. I did file a complaint with the FDA and they sent me a confirmation letter in the mail saying they'd check into it. I blame the FDA too though. Hope everyone is doing well. Talk soon
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I know how it is to be in your shoes, because we are in the same situation, and yes, the FDA should have stronger regulations for lasers, so they are to blame too. Just try to stay positive. I know it's hard sometimes, but I decided that I will try my best to eat better, exercise and find ways to get rid of the stress no matter what. Try to keep busy also and look at the mirrors less. It's hard at first, but as you get busy and focus on other things, it's possible.
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Don't lose hope. The body has amazing abilities to heal itself, especially if you give it good fuel, lots of rest and sun protection, which it sounds like you're doing. Are you using Retin A? Since it renews collagen production, I think it would help your skin over the long-term. Ditto a vitamin C serum. I mean the Vit.C would help with the texture, not that it renews collagen! I'm guessing that one doesn't normally do a "patch test" with IPL like one does for hair dye but it might be a good idea if they were made mandatory or at least recommended. It's very hard to find a dermatologist who listens, isn't it? Most of them are so concerned with their own treatment protocols that they barely even let you finish talking before they're writing an Rx for what they think you want. I hope you will look into fat injections, too, as they might help with the loss of volume. AFA newspaper articles are concerned, it very much depends on the reporter or columnist. Here in Toronto the Star has a very active consumer's advocate, Ellen Roseman, who looks into consumer complaints, often with excellent results. She also does in-depth reporting on popular issues. I think medi-spas are the type of thing she might take on. They seem to be sprouting in every plaza which makes me question who is using them and what kind of results they are getting. It's very much "caveat emptor." Courage!
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Hey Moushka, thanks again for your suggestions and encouragement! I have been thinking of trying Retin A, and I have already tried vitamin C serums (helped a little). Things are slowly improving and I've been so busy that I haven't been paying as much attention to this issue - sounds weird since it's my face (I am even surprised that I stopped focusing on it as much), but I do believe it will get better with time and that keeps me sane:) All the best! :)
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This is exactly what I've experienced. I thought I was crazy.
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Btw same as you, I always get ID checked when going to casino, now people even ask me how many children do I have... Just let you know that you are not alone and I am in the same boat as you :)
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Hi, I have exact same experience as yours. I am from Vancouver, Canada. I am using emu oil and cicalfate (contain copper sulfate and zinc sulfate) and this is the best combination that I have ever tried. I have tried many different brands and they are all irritated and clog pore on my face. Never have such a sensitive skin in my life until after IPL. Hope this helps...
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Hey thanks a lot, sorry for taking so long to reply, I've been very busy. I am sorry this happened to you too. It's a tough place to be in, but I've learned to try to focus on the best. If there is one thing I know, it's that stressing over this constantly not only makes the damage worst - because stress also causes bad skin - but it also slowly destroys your entire life as you become consumed by this issue. I started to distract myself more and more with tasks, and now, I don't think about it as much - I never thought this could happen because I was completely absorbed by this issue day in and day out. Apart for that, thanks for the product suggestion - I appreciate it and may try it down the road. I found a couple of things helpful too. The most helpful was this substance (naturally occurring in plants and living organisms) called MSM - it helps with collagen reproduction. I found it when I was searching for natural alternatives for "indented" scars. There are certain creams that contain it, but I buy it in powder form and mix it with aloe vera gel, as I have sensitive skin and don't really like to use creams. Here is a link about MSM: http://thelovevitamin.com/3586/rolling-acne-scars-msm-cream/#.UwuLNWyYbIU. All the best to you and hope things get better with time.
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This story is all too familiar, almost a carbon copy of my own. Yes, these machines need to be banned. But will they ever be? Cigarettes are still being sold even though they are known to cause death. Money, money, money! I'm so sorry you are going through this.
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I know Lisa, I saw your story months before I joined realself (this was when I started to notice what was happening to my skin and was looking for answers). My heart goes out to you because I know exactly how you feel. For months, I was in denial that this happened to me.. My life was halted and all of my resources (time, money, emotional and physical energy, etc.) all of a sudden were directed at trying to solve this issue... I couldn't believe that this kind of damage was even possible from a seemingly non-invasive procedure.. I don't have to explain to you the agony that I went through when I finally realized what was happening to my skin (after doing some research and seeing posts like yours). I am not a vain individual, but even the least superficial person wouldn't want their appearance so horrifically altered within a matter of months. I want to fight for stronger regulations in the industry of cosmetic laser/heat devices. I know that there are some petitions or whatnot being signed online, but I still have to look into that. I am just starting to "pick myself up" after being complete broken and severely depressed for about 4 months after the damage, so there are some things that have priority over these petitions and such. But as far as cigarettes go - yes, the tobacco industry is definitely an unethical one because people get addicted to cigs and get sick, but at least most people are aware of the dangers of smoking and can choose not to smoke. In my case, and I am sure in many other people's cases, I wasn't even aware of what I was signing up for - I didn't read/sign any waiver or consent form and I was a complete stranger to cosmetic procedures when it happened, so I feel like people are exposed to dangers they are not even aware of.. Tbh, I doubt these machines will be banned (the industry is a cash cow), but we can fight for stronger regulation at least..
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Very well put lookingforsolutions. Stronger regulation would be preferable to the way things are administered presently. There certainly is not enough awareness as to what these machines are capable of and that's why we are here, creating this conversation. We want others to know. And we are voicing this online, here, thankfully, and hopefully, others will read, and the word will spread -- as it did, eventually, with cigarettes. Everyone used to think cigarettes were healthy, a way to unwind, de-stress. Oh yeah, good times! Little did they know they were polluting themselves and setting up a life filled with ill-health and disease. I use the cigarette analogy often because I do believe that one day these machines will be understood to be harmful.
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Wow this is spot on. Same here. I'm a guy and I had some broken caps on my nose and cheeks that were bugging me. I would take them back any day over what a VBeam laser did to me. I was and still am in shock and it's been over a year ago since I did it. All these doctors deny the damage these lasers can do. I believe they do know or at least have an idea. I'm sorry to hear you story. I know how you feel LFA.
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Hey guys, sorry I've been swamped. KikiLisa - Exactly, the main reason I wanted to share this story was to raise awareness. It's just sad that many people make the decision on the spot before doing any research, and you can't really blame them. After all, people usually trust these so-called "professionals" administering the lasers/IPL.. Cjjr - I feel for you. Looking at my pictures before the damage and at my skin today, plus the volume loss - agh, I hate this the most, even more than the crazy "lined" texture.. I miss my youthful puffy cheeks :'( , I regret that split second-decision to do the IPL so much. Why did I do it? - I had good skin.. Why didn't I postpone the treatment and do more research? why did I trust that esthetician? - these questions keep haunting me, but as time goes on, we have no choice but to move on and try to break free from these thoughts..
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