Photofacials with Asian Skin

Would the treatments of photofacials hurt my wife's skin?

Doctor Answers 5


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It is difficult to answer this question without seeing your wife's skin type in person.  I advise that you go to a reputable clinic for evaluation prior to doing any treatment.

Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews


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If done correctly, a photofacial can be beneficial, but done incorrectly, could cause a pigment problem for months or longer.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Better Options than IPL for Laser Facial Treatments

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If the term you are referring to "photofacial" is equated with "IPL" then we are not big fans.  While IPL is a jack of all trades, it is master of none.  Coming from an office that uses over 20 lasers, we would much rather use a laser that is designed for a specific skin condition and skin types than a generic machine like an IPL. 

In addition to not being as specific as lasers in relation to the target, lasers are also much more powerful than IPL devices.  For example, q-switched lasers can easily remove birthmarks and tattoos, so when treating sun damage like freckles and spots, we would always reach for the more powerful tool.

While you can use IPL for Asian skin, the risk is higher and the results, in our opinion, will be poorer than with q-switched lasers.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

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IPL (Photo facials) safety on Asian and dark skin depends on many factors

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IPL (Photofacials) can be safely performed on Asian and other dark skin types but it depends on several factors: the device itself, the settings used and the skill of the operator.  There are IPL devices that sell for $20,000 and some that sell for $150,000.  The more expensive ones, such as the Lum-1 have more settings that can safely treat darker skin types.  But the operator must also be skilled enough to know the correct settings for each patient.  Another factor is tanned skin.  Always make sure your skin (or your wife's), no matter what skin type you have, is not tan when you are treated, otherwise the treatment can burn the skin.  Asian and darker skin types are more prone to hyperpigmentation (dark patches) after burns and other injuries to their skin.

Lorrie Klein, MD
Laguna Niguel Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 217 reviews

IPL in Asian skin

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I believe you are referring to intense pulse light as a photofacial therapy. This treatment is usually preferable to treat dark spots and redness on the face of light skinned individuals. However, in patients of Asian, Latin, and other ethnic background, the photofacial have to be done with extra caution.

If used too aggressively, they can cause discolorations, blistering and burns/scars. So as long as these treatments are done by a skin specialist, preferable a doctor, then proper settings should be used to provide the best quality of care and avoid complications. Good luck.

Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD
Davie 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.