IPL Laser Side Effects - When do They Go Away?

Over the past year and a half I have had 3 full face IPL treatments (Photofacial and Syneron) for sunspots and freckles. I am a female caucasian with pale white skin that burns and develop freckles easily. The first 2 times I had good results, though I had a few hyperpigmentation spots on my forehead and chin. But the last time I had it done--which was 6 months ago now--I had 2 burns on my face around the chin area. Now my face has white scar-like spots (small and round) on at least 10 different spots. Are these scars and will they go away? And if they are scars what should I do? Also, what would you suggest I do for the hyperpigmentation? I also notice pock like indentations on my cheeks. My neck seems to have loose skin now. Are these things temporary? What can I do or use to help? Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

Doctor Answers 9

Little -to -No Side Effects After IPL/ BBL Treatments

Sciton® BBL technology treats sun-damaged and aging skin effectively. The light energy delivered by the BBL will gently be absorbed by the unwanted melanin responsible for pigmented lesions in the upper layers of the skin. Over the next few days the pigmented lesions will darken and fall off. Pigmented lesions can be removed by full-face or spot-treat superficial resurfacing. Red veins will simply disappear!

Gentle cleansing without harsh products for a few days is recommended as well as a broad spectrum sunscreen.

#ScitonBBL #BBLtreatsspots #IPLBBL

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

IPL Side Effects

It sounds like you have the perfect skin type for an IPL treatment. Unfortunately, you may have experienced hypopigmentation as a result of the burns. It is possible that the settings were too high on your last treatment. You will have to give it a good year to see if this area changes but typically if the pigment has been removed from the IPL there is no treatment to bring it to your baseline skin color. I usually recommend patients with this type of complication to consult with a medical tattoo artist as many times a good artist can fill in these spots with medical tattooing. ] As for the hyperpigmented areas IPL can be used in future treatments and a topical cream such as hydroquinone can be used twice per day. From what you described it sounds like you may have some scarring on your cheeks. A fractional ablative laser would be an ideal choice to help with the symptoms you are describing. As far as the loose skin, this is typically not an adverse affect from IPL, and you may need to seek a board certified plastic surgeon to address any laxity you are noticing in your neck area. As for follow up to your post IPL concerns, I feel it is best for you to reach out to your provider to compare your before and after photos and have them address your current concerns.

Scott Chapin, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Contact Your Treating Doctor about IPL Side Effects

Anytime any laser or IPL is used on the skin, hyper- and hypopigmentation can occur. Also, we see this normally in some with a lot of sun damage. If you had a procedure done and had a burn, did you call your treating doctor? Was someone able to look at it and make a treatment recommendation? If no, I would ask why not? If yes, I would want to know the type of doctor you went to. Board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons are really good in taking care of something that may have been from a laser burn or an IPL burn.

In any event, in 2014 there are things that can be done to help the situation — so if it bothers you, find someone who really knows lasers and learn about the fractional lasers.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

IPL Side Effects

In our office, we use a version of the IPL called AFT (Advanced Flourescent Technology). The little white spots that you mentioned are what we call hypopigmentation, which is when your base pigment is removed from your skin. This is sometimes a side effect from IPL or AFT treatments, and can take up to one year to go back to your base pigment. Sometimes, depending on the severity of the hypopigmentation, we can re-treat the surrounding area to help blend it in better with your skin tone. For hyperpigmentation, which is deposits of pigment on the skin, we would recommend either additional AFT treatments or some at-home lightening cream. In our office, we advise patients to use SkinCeuticals Pigment Regulator. The pock-like indentations on your cheeks could be scarring from the scabbing you might have had as a result of the IPL treatment. These could be treated in many different ways, and would be determined in a complementary consultation. In our experience, we have never seen loose skin as a result of this treatment, and would advise consulting some before and after photos to analyze the changes you have noticed to your face.

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Pigment irregularity...

The descriptions of the scars are not entirely consistent with the shape of the Syneron handpiece (rectangular) or the rails. You may be having some pigment irregularity from past scarring and the IPL removed the pigment over the scar. Loose skin is not caused by any laser I know of. The pock like indentions can be treated with a fractional laser system by a reputable company and competent practitioners.

Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD
Bay Area Dermatologist
3.9 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

IPL side effects

Older IPL systems have a low threshold between effective treatment and a facial burn.  A burn can result in transient tiger striping, hyperpigmentation or can result in much harder issues to resolve such as hypopigmentation or scarring. Newer IPL systems are much more powerful but targeted in their delivery system and less likely to cause these issues, particularly coupled with a reputable aesthetic physician's office.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 162 reviews

BBL : Low Risk Treatments

Sciton® BBL technology treats sun-damaged and aging skin effectively. The light energy delivered by the BBL will gently be absorbed by the unwanted melanin responsible for pigmented lesions in the upper layers of the skin. Pigmented lesions can be removed by full-face or spot-treat superficial resurfacing. Red veins will simply disappear!   Pigmentation is not scarring and can be remedied with the BBL by a skilled provider.

#BBLtreatments   #lowrisklasers   #BBLsideeffects

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Pigment Problems can be corrected but not indentations

You sound like you would have been a perfect canidate for IPL based on your skin type. It seems like your first 2 treatments responded as they should. However, when you went in for your third treament the "setting" possibly was set too high and caused your burns.

You can use a skin lightening cream for the hyperpigmentation such as tri-luma and that should help.

The white spots probably are a result of the burns.

I'm not sure about the indentations. If its only been six months hopefully it will correct itself in time. I have never experienced indentations ever with IPL.

Its almost impossible to put pigment back in the skin. If the skin on neck seems loose, I don't think it has anything to do with the IPL treatments. I would follow up with your concerns with the Doctor who did the procedure.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

IPL side effects

You mentioned several possible IPL side effects and so we will address each one independently.

1. Hyperpigmentation from Burns. Hyperpigmentation is a darkening of the skin caused by trauma. For light skin types this type of coloration normally goes away on it's own. If it persists for you, there are two options we use, hydroquinone bleaching cream and q-switched lasers. If using q-switched lasers, make sure the practitioner is extremely experienced as you are treating a trauma scar with more light, which can be tricky.

2. White Hypopigmented scars. There is no easy solution for this. We hope they will resolve on their own. If not, you may want to look into Excimer lasers. These are the lasers used to treat Vitiligo and they can help with repigmentation, but it is a slow (and many times temporary) process.

3. Pock Like indentations. Were you heavily scabbed after the burns? Are these pock marks in the same location as the burn? If so, they will probably not go away on their own and you may need to consider some form of laser resurfacing to help (Erbium, fractionated, etc).

4. Loose Skin. Did you have your neck treated? You only reference a facial treatment and not the neck. In any event, we do not know of a laser treatment that would cause the neck skin to loosen. Usually it would be the other way around with light based treatments improving skin laxity.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 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.