Should I be concerned about this amount of swelling after a IPL photo facial? (photo)

I had a IPL photo facial done yesterday. It's not my first one but it's the first time I was giving a numbing cream before. I had some decent sized welts after the process and swelling progressed as the evening went on. This morning the swelling is worse. I had zero swelling with my previous photo facials but the technology has changed since I had those done 3-4 years ago. Should I be concerned about this amount of swelling?

Doctor Answers 5

Swelling after IPL

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Swelling can occur after IPL or BBL if an aggressive treatment was administered or other factors are present that can enhance swelling. People with sensitive skin, recent sun exposure, on certain medications, or generally prone to swelling with injury (with bug bites, for example) can see more swelling than others. Lying down flat soon after the procedure can also lead to increased swelling. If you do not have blisters or open areas of skin, the swelling should go down in a few days and it will most likely be fine. From your photo, it looks like you are red, but without blisters or open areas. If you have blisters or any open areas, you should contact the physician at the practice where you had your procedure and have them take a look and advise you on post care until you are all healed up. You will probably get a nice result once the swelling subsides.

Swelling post IPL

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Swelling is a possibility post Intense Pulsed Light laser treatment. As long as you do not have current blisters or areas of open sores, you should not have an issue.  Everyone is different on the amount of swelling they experience.  Icing post treatment, application of hydrocortisone 1% and avoiding salty foods can minimize swelling.  You should be better in a few days.  Ensure you avoid irritating skin care products like Retin-A, glycolic acid or salicylic acid.  It is extremely important to wear sunscreen over SPF 30 every day. If you experience open sores, call your doctor immediately.  Good Luck! 

Laurie A. Casas, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 110 reviews


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Swelling can definitely occur after a photofacial, I find that when I am treating reds or vessels on the face my patients tend to swell for 24-48 hours after the treatment. We recommend ice and a soothing cream- and SPF! The swelling should decrease daily, and if that does not happen I would contact the doctor who treated you. Hope this helps!

Alan B. Brackup, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

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Swelling is expected and varies between patient to patient. It should go down within the next few days. If it gets worse call your physician.

Robert G. Aycock, MD, FACS
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon

IPL is a photofacial -- get Fraxel with Microneedling or combine with IPL and microneedling/PRP

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I find that fraxel with microneedling/PRP does much better than IPL alone or in combination with IPL.  swelling is very common for up to two weeks with either procedure.  If you are concerned speak to your physician.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 207 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.