Am I a Good Candidate for Intensed Pulse Light Therapy (IPL)? (photo)

I am 100% Vietnamese and my skin is just a tad bit tan. I have a few hyperpigmentation marks on my face. I wanted to go get the intensed pulse light therapy done and I wanted to know whether or not I would be a good candidate. I've read that asian skin isn't the preferred skin type for this treatment, but I really want these marks gone, and I don't want to risk putting any more damage onto my face. So please help me! And if it's not, please give me a better option that would help! Thank you!!!!

Doctor Answers 3

Jessner's Solution Combined With Glycolic Acid Peels For the Remainder of the Face Work Well For Blotchy Pigmentation

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I have not been impressed with either IPL or fractional lasers for the treatment of irregular, blotchy pigmentation from melasma or solar lentigines ("sun" spots) or even for freckling, for that matter.

For the past couple of years, I have had great success combining in-office treatment of these problems via a series of treatments using superficial peeling agents and home use of depigmenting agents. Depending upon circumstances, the latter may include hydroquinone (in high concentrations), tretinoin, kinetin, Lumixyl, or L-ascorbic acid.

Both Jessner's solution ( a combination of three different superficial peeling agents) and glycolic acid 70% are superficial peeling agents. I have found that applying several coats of Jessner's solution to the unwanted pigmented areas combined with using the glycolic acid to the surrounding normal areas for blending to be extremely effective after between four and six treatments spaced at monthly intervals. Further fading may be achieved when the home use topicals mentioned earlier are added to the treatment protocol.

Superficial peels have little or no downtime and seldom give rise to anything more than temporary pinkness and fine scales for a couple of days, which are easily masked by makeup. Treatments are also typically less expensive than energy-based therapies, and patients can return to work immediately after treatment, making this approach a true "lunchtime beauty fix."

IPL for Asian skin

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IPL is an effective treatment for many skin types, including those with Asian skin. But I will say this: it's an effective treatment when done by trained, experienced professionals who are overseen directly by a physician. I have many Asian patients whom I treat with IPL, but the settings need to be very specific and the technician absolutely needs to pay attention to every single skin response. Visit an office with a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon and ask them specifically how many people with Asian skin they treat regularly. If it's not a lot, find an office that does! Do not shop for the best prices on IPL, shop for experience - your face and your results will thank you!

Asian skin/IPL

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You are correct in worrying about Asian skin and IPL. 

It can be performed with good results but it needs to be done by someone with experience  with darker skin types. My experience has been that using the Obagi Nuderm kit for 4 weeks  before an IPL followed by more Obagi post treatment  gives incredible results with little down time. The beauty of the Obagi products is that the patient controls the treatment , so you can take your time to get the results if  your skin becomes very reactive.The IPL then becomes the BOOST.

Cynthia Stolovitz, MD
Montreal Physician

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.