Burn Marks to Forearm Post Laser Hair Removal Using IPL, Will They Go Away?

Asian with light brown skin and dark hair — the tech said she was using IPL.. The right arm looks okay but there are burn marks at the top of the left forearm. Was given a tube of neosporin to the area. Also applied cold compress and aloe vera to relieve burning sensation. She said the marks are temporary and should disappear within 24 hours. But they look worse than yesterday. Will these marks go away?! 

Doctor Answers 3

Asian Skin Laser Hair Removal with IPL.

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Hello.  This is very disheartening to hear of your experience.  The marks should go away (with time and possible intervention), but the person you are speaking with about the situation is drastically underestimating the severity of it.  You need to keep to keep the area covered from sunlight and well moisturized while it is recovering.  If the person that treated you is not a physician, please ask to be evaluated by the Medical Director if this has not already been offered to you.

We would not recommend any more laser treatments with this practice as what you are seeing is highly unusual and considered an adverse outcome.  This type of side effect is exactly the reason why we are outspoken about the risks of using IPL treatments vs. medical lasers. 

In addition, your skin type and ethnicity makes IPL treatments even more of a concern.  One should not have to trade safety for efficacy or vice versa.  In our opinion, and with years of practice, we believe class IV medical lasers offer a safer, more predictable outcome for hair removal for all skin types.  Of course, the knowledge and experience of the one administering the treatment (whether IPL or laser) is of utmost importance.

With almost all Asians we use a Lumenis Lightsheer laser for hair removal. 

Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

IPL burns may leave rectangular marks on your skin for months or years depending on the treatment parameters how you heal.

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I would recommend that you immediately seek consultation from a Board Certified Dermatologist who has a years of experience dealing with complications of IPL and laser treatments.  Proper care of these spots is very important.

Mark Taylor, MD
Salt Lake City Dermatologic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Burns from IPL

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Wow. I am so sorry about this situation, and this photo. This is extremely disturbing. Those marks are very bad and clearly this procedure was done by someone who is drastically inexperienced and clearly feeding you the wrong information. Not only that, based on the spacing between the bars of the burns, this is a poorly done treatment anyway - the lines are supposed to be overlapped, not spaced 1/2 inch apart. This is not normal at all and it absolutely will not resolve within 24 hours. I would suggest you make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist ASAP. If you came into my office I would recommend a steroid cream (like Betamethasone), hydrocortisone ointment, and sunscreen. You need to keep the area moisturized and out of the sun. Do not return to that office under any circumstances. Long term problems like hypo or hyperpigmentation can occur if you do not start treating this correctly right away. Cold compresses and aloe vera are not enough. You need prescription strength medications, now. Also, neosporin is terrible - throw it away; it should not be on the market!!

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.