Why is IPL Not Working on Brown Spots?

I had 4 ipl treatments on face to get rid of brown spots and there is no improvement and my facial cosmetic surgeon is extremely qualified to do the sessions. Please explain this to me

Doctor Answers 6

Identification of the brown spots is the first step....

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... as a rule, laser dermatologists ALWAYS diagnose what the brown spot is, prior to treatment. Brown spots on the face can be due to things such as freckles, age warts, flat warts, and even skin cancers, or melasma. 
IPL is an excellent treatment for sundamage, and freckles, but won't be good for flat seb warts, melasma, and def. NOT skin cancer. Getting a firm diagnosis will be the first step. 


Dr Davin Lim 
Laser and Cosmetic


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Perhaps you need to have Fraxel rather than IPL treatments.  Especially consider this if you already have been treated 4 times and no results.


Good luck.  Hope this helps.


Dr. Grant Stevens       

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 152 reviews

A Series of Superficial Peels Can Work Well for Fading Brown Spots

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While light-based therapies, such as IPL and numerous lasers, has dominated the press, been the source of intensive corporate marketing and advertising, and thus, not surprisingly, has captured the imagination of the lay public over the past couple of decades, the anti-aging and skin lightening results of treatment with these devices do not always live up to public expectations. 

While no therapy is ever guaranteed to work for any condition, a variety of chemical peels, which have been around for many decades and have stood the test of time, have proven useful for evening out irregular and blotchy skin pigmentation. When used properly and in appropriately selected individuals (and particularly when combined with home-use lightening agents), superficial chemical peels when performed in a series (4-6+ treatments) at monthly intervals often proves helpful for lightening melasma, solar lentigines, freckles, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, TCA 10%-25%, Jessner solution (a combination of peeling agents), while lacking the glitz of light therapies (and generally less expensive, as well), have all been found to be useful for treating these conditions, and treatment is suitable for both light-colored and more darkly pigmented spots..


Nelson Lee Novick, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

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Brown spots and IPL

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While I agree with my colleagues, it also depends on what the brown spots are. Are they age spots? Lentigos? Melasma pockets? All of these brown spots lie at different depths in the skin and therefore take different types of wavelengths and depths or treatment protocols to address them. In almost all of my FotoFacial/IPL packages I offer liquid nitrogen freezing at no charge to the lighter brown spots. This way, all the layers of the brown spots are treated effectively, with a combination of treatments.

IPL for brown spots

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IPL works best for darker brown spots and not as well for light brown spots.  If the brown spots are light, then the best treatment is usually laser treatment wtih a Q-switched laser.  Also, there are many different types of IPL machines and some work better than others.  We use the BBL machine in our office with nice results.   You should discuss this further with your cosmetic surgeon and see what he/she suggests.

Richard Ort, MD
Lone Tree Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

IPL for Brown Spots

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There may be a few reasons why your treatments were not effective.  The darker your spots, the better the results.  If your spots are extremely light, the treatment will not be as effective.   It is also possible that your practitioner was using a setting that was not appropriate for you.   Also, unfortunately, there are some people who have brown spots that are very resistant to any treatment.

Sheri G. Feldman, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologist

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.