Is Extreme and Increasingly Worsening Facial Swelling Normal After IPL Treatment? (photo)

I received my first IPL treatment 72 hours ago for vascular lesions and broken capillaries. Six hours later experienced mild swelling and hardening under my skin on my checks. The next day the swelling worsened and has continued to do so each day. I went to an urgent care center yesterday and was given a steroid shot and script for medrol pack. This morning my face is even more swollen and my checks feel hard to the touch. I am scared.

Doctor Answers 5


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This much swelling after an IPL treatment is not normal.  It may be possible that you are allergic to the topical numbing cream if this was applied prior to your treatment.  I would recommend that you follow-up with you physician.  

Swelling After IPL

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Swelling to this degree is not typical after an IPL.  If a topical numbing cream was applied beforehand and a cream was applied after, you may be experiencing an allergic contact dermatitis, which will ultimately resolve. I would follow-up with a board-certified dermatologist for a thorough evaluation and to rule all other possibilities out.  Good luck.

Sabrina Fabi, MD
San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 87 reviews

Swelling following IPL treatment

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Hello, and sorry to hear about the issues you are experiencing following your treatment. In general, the swelling should not get progressively worse. I would recommend visiting your provider as soon as possible, as they know the extent of your treatment and will be able to assess your current condition. Thank you, and I hope you feel better soon.

Paul S. Nassif, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

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IPL and facial swelling

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This amount of swelling after IPL is very unusual.  You may have developed an allergic reaction to a product that was applied to your face, or you may have an infection.  It may not be related to your treatment.  It is very important for you to be assessed by a dermatologist or return to the urgent care center.  You should inform the clinic who did the IPL treatment.  If a physician was not involved, you should consider being treated in an office that can give you follow-up care.

Martie Gidon, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologist

Swelling after IPL

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Some edema (swelling) usually occurs after intense IPL, but it should not be getting worse or stronger as the days go on. I would make certain you call the office that did your IPL and report what happened, and suggest that they see you as well. There is a chance the treatment and this swelling are unrelated, but the office that did your IPL at least needs to be aware of what happened.

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.