IPL Safety Measures?

I am a light-skinned female interested in IPL to remove freckles from sun on my chest, shoulders and back. After reading many of the horror stories of long-term, permanent side effects from IPL gone-wrong, I am now very worried.

I am concerned about getting permanent round/rectangular burns on my skin from the device. Are there lower, safer settings I can instruct my provider to use? Are "test patches" helpful for determining how I will respond to IPL? Also, I have 2-3 tiny patches of hypopigmentation from the sun. Am I at a greater risk for developing more hypopigmentation after IPL?

Doctor Answers 2

IPL safety

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IPL / BBL is a very safe procedure in the well trained hands.  You should not expect to have any round/rectangular burns on your skin if treated appropriately and the fact that you are a light skinned individual actually makes the treatment safer for you.  A experienced provider should not have any problem obtaining optimal settings for you and your skin type and you should certainly not expect to have any hypopigmentation from an appropriate treatment.

Best Regards,

Jacque P. LeBeau, MD

Pensacola Facial Plastic Surgeon

Safe if in trained hands

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Yes, I do believe with proper settings and a qualified Dr./nurse/master estheician you should be in safe hands. I would recommend a dermatologist or somebody who is very knowledgable about skin to do your treatment. He or she should be able to address all your concerns and answer any questions you may have in regards to the treatments. Most horror stories you here about in regards to burns or scars are due to the "settings" being set too high for certain skin types.

It is also very important that, as a patient, you disclose all medications: some may cause light sensitivity). Be sure to inform your physician of the last time you were in the sun for any long length of time. If you are concerned how your skin will react, you can do a "test spot". It might help ease your mind before an entire area is treated. You shouldn't develop hypopigmentation unless you get burned. Again before you branch out and decide to do IPL make sure you're comfortable with your provider.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist

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.