Blisters to Chest, Back and Legs After IPL

One week ago, today, I had the IPL laser tx on my entire body excluding my stomach. I was not told that blisters would develop. Actually, she (the esthetician) said I would develop brown spots that would peel off in 7 days.

They do not appear to be going anywhere (on day 7 now). Some of the blisters popped. I have been back to she her and the MD. Both say I will be fine, just that the popped blistered areas will take longer to heal. ? (1)How much longer? (2)Will I have scars? Thanks.

Doctor Answers 4

Blisters are a potential but not expected side effect of IPL

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Blisters mean there was at least a superficial burn.  The settings on an IPL device prior to treatment must take into account the person's skin type (not just what is observed, but actually determined by an administered questionnaire) and the amount of sun exposure the person has had.  The IPL device works by treating a more pigmented area in a field of less pigmented areas, so if the person's skin type is IV or higher or if a person has had recent sun exposure, there will not be preferential treatment of more pigmented areas and there will be a higher risk of side effects, like burns.

Even with proper settings, there is always a risk of a potential burn or blisters.  That is something you should have been aware of.  Most superficial burns heal without scarring.  The goal now is to prevent and/or treat any infection in the area and keep the blisters covered with antibiotic ointment and dressing.  See your dermatologist to evaluate the lesions for infection.

Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon

Blisters after IPL are Burns

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Hi.   IPL treatments to the skin are high energy applications that are to help destroy superficial pigmented areas or superficial blood vessels. The correct energy delivered is important, Too little and you get poor results. Too much and you can get a burn. The area treated cannot be tanned nor can you be a person of much color. The whiter the skin the less likely you will get a burn, everything else taken into consideration. Even skin next to a tattoo treated with IPL might burn if the IPL is too close to the tattoo. Possibility of burns should be discussed as part of the informed consent because it is one of the well known risks. Since you will be now healed, I'd just suggest a good sunscreen for these areas of injury if they are exposed to the sun. If areas of injury seem to be getting thick then see your MD as specific scar management treatments may be needed. Fortunately most IPL burns heal without scars.

Harlow Hollis, MD
Victoria Plastic Surgeon

Blisters After IPL: Is This Normal?

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Although you will likely heal up without scarring, blistering indicates a thermal injury from the IPL and is not an appropriate end-point of IPL treatment.  While any treatment can have complications, it is always best to indicate when something didn't go as planned and explain the expectations going forward.  I would agree that silver sulfadiazine is a good topical treatment for the blisters until they heal up.

Joseph Campanelli, MD
Portland Facial Plastic Surgeon

Blisters to Chest, Back and Legs After IPL

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There must have been a breakdown in pre IPL communications. An informed consent was obviously not given properly to you. Because "blisters" are a possible outcome of IPL therapy. Best to discuss with the doctor personally. As for treatment, I recommend opening any closed blisters and applying silvadene cream. 

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.