Photofacial Power Level Set Too High

I did my 2nd photofacial treatment & dealt with a nurse who REFUSED to perform the procedure at the power level I requested. I was concerned about possible facial fat loss as a side effect & was comfortable with the IPL level being at 28.

I told her 3 times that I was afraid but she insisted that 32 was an extremely low power level and best for Caucasian's with sallow toned skin. my face is bright red & the pain is intense. Is 32 really a low IPL level? anything I can do to offset the damage?

Doctor Answers 5

Photofacials and settings

Photofacials with intense pulsed light do not cause fat loss.  It is impossible to say what the appropriate settings for you would be since all IPL devices are different.  A patch test done at the beginning of the treatment will reveal how your skin is reacting to the settings.  An experienced technician can adjust the power accordingly.  You should have treatment with an experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Toronto Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews


I have never seen fat damage from an IPL.  The treatment should not be overly painful.  We use air cooling to minimize the pain and stabilize out the thermal response.   Perhaps you should seek out a Plastic or Dermatological practice.

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

Is 32 too high

it all depends on the machine. in general parameters are set by exam by a physcian, more importantly,  a test spot should be done and the skin re-evaluated along with pain experienced and energy dialed up or down as necessary.  I do all the IPL in my practice and i find myself changing energy throughout the treatment based on skin and pt feedback. as an aside, hard to imagine IPL affecting facial fat volume( without a burn). good luck

Rafael C. Cabrera, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

IPL parameters for photofacial treatments

The settings on an IPL machine include the choice of filter (what skin type the patient is and what it will treat - the reds, the browns, hair removal or skin tightening), the power, the pulse duration and what temperature the crylstal will cool the surface of skin.

These setting and the changes to the at each treatment should be determined by a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon with training and experience in providing IPL treatments.

Also, IPL does not cause any facial fat loss. 

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

The lower the level, the less intense the effect.

The energy level is not simply controlled by the number you cite.  This energy level means something for a given treatment setting which includes the number of light pulses, their duration, and the time between pulses.  Generally I have found that having nurses do this treatment to be problematic.  They typically follow a treatment protocol that is too rigid.  It is important to be able to tune the treatment to how your skin is actually reacting.  This can even be affected by things in the diet and current medication.  It is possible to have red skin and short lived pain.  If you did have a more serious reaction, it would be expected that the skin would blister.  You might reconsider returning to this office for more treatment in the future if they can't listen to you.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 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.