Brown Spots After IPL (Asian w/ Light Skin)

I just did IPL for sun spots today on a whim at my derm's office. I am Asian with light skin and had sun spots most noticeably on my cheeks from years of swim team (and no sunscreen). I found this site researching the after IPL treatment and care and then found out all these scary after effects! I'm SO worried now! I trust my derm is a great doctor, but I'm worried about the many more brown spots that have shown themselves where they weren't visible before. Then I'm scared by the comments that 1st treatment went well, then 2nd or 3rd left scarring, bruising, fat loss, and/or ruined skin texture. Are there any specific factors that may cause these bad side effects? I'm tempted to just stop after this one treatment but now worried that there are more spots than before? ~ Freaked and Needs Assurance

Doctor Answers 4

IPL Results to be Expected...

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It sound like you had a good first treatment with IPL.  The brown spots are supposed to darken then flake off.  If in experienced hands, your doctor can dramatically reduce your sun damaged age spots and have you looking great in no time!  Multiple treatments are usually recommended for optimal results.  I like to recommend 2 to 4 weeks apart for treatments.

Hope this help.

Dr. Grant Stevens     

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 152 reviews

Darkening of pigmented spots after IPL treatment

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That is what is supposed to happen.  Darkening of pigmented spots after IPL treatment is the desired response.  After this, the pigment breaks up and is shed from the skin.

Where there is an IPL burn, usually it is in the shape of the handpiece that contacts the skin, not just individual spots.

And also, I am not sure who started the whole "fat loss after IPL" myth, but that is what it is.  Fat is not involved in IPL treatments at all.

And last but not least, if you are happy with and trust your dermatologist, who is experienced with IPL treatments and so far you are having a great result, why the worry?  Talk to him/her about your concerns, but please also be aware that many of these procedures are done by non-medical personnel with no training or experience to do them.

Interestingly in the state of NJ IPL does not have to be done by a doctor but laser procedures do.  IPL can be more challenging as there are many things to consider: patient's skin type, what is being treated, how to choose the settings, etc etc.  In NY I believe many laser procedures can be performed by an aesthetician.  That is scary.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon

It us normal to see more brown spots appear after IPL

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It sounds like you are having a normal response to IPL. Some brown spots will appear or come to the surface after IPL. They should all peel off within 7-10 days. You will have to wait and see what your results are before you decide if another treatment is needed. Some people get by with just one treatment. I would go back to your dermatologist and let them help you decide if another treatment is needed.

Heather Haley, MD
Mobile Dermatologic Surgeon

Brown spots after IPL

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IPL treatments are generally safe. It depends on the settings that were used for you skin. If you are fair skin, then you should have a better outcome than darker skin patients. Before you schedule your next treatment, see what results you get with this one. It is not unusual for skin to get darker before becoming lighter.

Bhupesh Vasisht, MD
Voorhees Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

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.