IPL Photofacial Brown Spots. Will They Flake Off?

Is there a chance these brown spots that are all showing up after IPL photofacial might not flake off? I am 3 days out and they look like coffee grinds but just a little anxious that they might stay. :) They are not scabbing up or feel raised as others have stated. Face feels smooth.

Doctor Answers 5

IPL successfully treats browns and reds of the skin

Intense pulsed light, also referred to as IPL or photofacial, treats sun-induced brown spots of the skin and helps to reduce visible redness caused by red vessels.

Here's how it works:

  1. IPL delivers a range of light to the skin.
  2. Within that range of light are wavelengths of light that are easily absorbed by browns and reds
  3. The browns and reds of the skin are heated when they light is absorbed by them
  4. Heating a brown spot causes it to darken, often compared to chocolate chips or coffee grounds
  5. Our skin cells are always rising to the surface and flaking off, and the darkened spots do the same
  6. This process can take days to weeks to complete depending on how "deep" the brown spot is
  7. Reds are reduced in appearance because heating the vessels causes them to shrink
  8. It takes several treatment sessions to obtain optimal results

There are many IPL machines on the market, some are very powerful and others aren't. The differences in machines and experience of the person delivering the treatments will influence how long the healing from a treatment takes and how many treatments are need.

San Antonio Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

IPL Photofacial brown spots. Will they flake off?

Thank you for the question. Usually they flake off in 7-10 days. Sometimes up to two weeks.

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

Brown spots after IPL treatment

Brown spots that show up after an IPL treatment usually go away once the epithelium is sloughed.  However, 6-8 weeks is usually necessary before you can see the final result. It is important to be patient and allow the treated area to fully recover.  And stay in contact with the provider/skin care center that performed the IPL, as they are the best source of information for you.

James Carraway, MD
Virginia Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Coffee grounds from IPL/Photofacials

At 3 days out and based on what you are describing, it does sound like coffee grounds, which is the actual pigment rising out of the treated skin. It can be flaky or gooey, but it usually does come about 2-5 days after treatment. You can LIGHTLY rub the spots as they surface--very lightly, with your hands only and a light cleanser, to help sluff them off the surface. Coffee grounds should not be scabs--those would be burned sites. They should be flaky or gooey spots and your face can feel smooth.

F. Victor Rueckl, MD
Las Vegas Dermatologist
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

IPL and coffee ground spots

It can take 1 - 2 weeks for the coffee ground spots to flake off.  During this time, try not to pick at the spots, let them slough off on their own. 

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 221 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.