IPL: Heaps of Coffee-ground & Dark Spots

I just had IPL today on my face (approx 2 hrs ago) and there is coffee-ground spots and just other dark freckles everywhere! I am 26 years old, and did used to do a bit of sunbaking in my teens. I did not have many freckled on my face to start with though, but now my face is swamped! I did think this was meant to be a 'minimal downtime' procedure but there is now way i'll be going anywhere for a while. Is the immediate dramatic increase in pigment a good sign or bad one?

Doctor Answers 4

Coffee ground spots after IPL treatment

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The coffee ground spots that you are experiencing is a good sign that the IPL treatment was effective.  The pigment will usually take 1-2 weeks to flake off.  There may be swelling, but it is fine to wear make-up after treatment.  We recommend mineral based make-up and a good spf.   

Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews

Coffee grounds and freckle darkening is a good sign after IPL treatment

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Seeing coffee grounds and darkening of freckles means that you had a very good response to the treatment. These take 1-2 weeks to shed.

Minimal downtime means no broken skin, no scabs, little swelling that resolves in a few hours.

Because the skin is intact, you can put a little makeup on and continue your regular activities.  I prefer a mineral based powder.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon

Dark Spots after IPL

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Dark or "coffee ground" spots after IPL is usually a good sign.  Very common to take 7-10 days to settle and "flake" off.  Just follow the post procedure protocol your surgeon gave you and in a week you will look much better.


Leonard Harris, MD
Burlington Plastic Surgeon

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Great treatment...

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The dark spots you are referring to is a great sign you had an effective IPL treatment, it may look like you are seeing more than normal because the IPL has actually grabbed pigment that was not yet visible on the surface, but would actually be shown in a few years.  The pigment should take 1-2 weeks to exfoliate off, we recommend IPL treatments 4-6 weeks apart and continuing on a 4% topical  to keep pigment cells at bay.  The treatment's are refereed to as No downtime because there is no healing of the skin, which means you can wear make-up and continue daily activities after treatment.  We recommend a mineral based foundation that includes SPF.

Hannah Vargas, MD
Kansas City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 48 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.