Laser Resurfacing or Photo-facial for Fair Skin? (photo)

I am 42 years old with ultra-fair skin (always burns and freckles, never tans) and am seeing some skin aging issues such as laugh lines, uneven texture, and larger pores (sun damage?). I went in for a facial and skin consultation and was told that my skin is too fair for laser treatment and I should go with photofacial. My skin is somewhat thin, probably average to slightly above average for fair skinned people my age. I am worried that photofacial will bring out freckles permanently. Advice??

Doctor Answers 7

Laser and IPL each best for different goals

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Laser resurfacing and IPL are generally oriented toward different goals.

Erbium and CO2 resurfacing lasers can have their best effect on improving skin texture.

Different wavelengths of IPL can be emphasized to address skin pigmentary changes such as dark spots  (lentigos),  redness from rosacea,  and very fine vessels (telangiectasia).

Patients with fair skin tend to have fewer problems with laser skin resurfacing than do those with darker skin types.

Madison Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Photofacial for Fair Skin

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}


As a general rule, the lighter your skin tone the BETTER candidate you are for IPL and skin resurfacing procedures. A photofacial will address dark spots caused by sun damage and hormonal changes as well as broken capillaries and some skin texture irregularities.  Always be sure to only have these treatments at a Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon’s, Plastic Surgeon’s or Dermatologist’s office to ensure that you get the best treatment for your skin tone and concerns…and the best result.

Best of luck, Dr. Clevens


Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

Combining skin technologies for best result

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

In my experience combining several technoilogies can create best benefit with minimal down time. In your case with fair skin Photofacial (IPL) will benefit the freckles and dyschromias (brown spots) and follow up with fractional laser will help with fine lines. All this can be accomplished with a short recovery period. Consulting with experienced practitioner that offers several technologies rather than trying to fit the patient into the technology he or she happens to have at hand is your best bet. Keep in mind that neither laser peels nor IPL technologies can create the same remarkable skin benefit that deep resurfacing with chemical or CO2 laser can accomplish. Unfortunatly the technologies with greatest benefit have difficult and prolonged recovery.

Julian Henley, MD
Greeley Facial Plastic Surgeon

You might also like...

Photofacial or Laser

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

For starters, the most ideal candidates for facial laser resurfacing are patients with fair skin (Fitzpatrick type I).  The major pigmentary contraindication to laser resurfacing relates to those patients with too much skin pigmentation.  IPL will help with brown spots and give very mild collagen remodeling, has almost no downtime, but requires a series of treatments, and will give a less enduring and less dramatic improvement than laser resurfacing ( CO2 and Erbium, fractional or ablative).  Laser resurfacing provides long lasting, dramatic results, but requires a week of hard downtime, followed by 4-12 weeks of postoperative redness and sun avoidance.  A patient's decision must be guided by their expectations, tolerance for downtime, and a thorough understanding of the risks and benefits of all alternatives.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 103 reviews

Fair skin is ideal for laser therapy such as Fraxel Dual

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

IPL can help reduce capillaries and brown spots (red coloration and sun lentigines and freckles). However the light source does not help build collagen as laser, such as Fraxel Restore, accomplishes.  Fraxel was upgraded to Fraxel Dual in many practices several years ago as the combination wavelength laser can address both the superficial coloration of brown spots with the 1927 nm. wavelength and the deeper 1550nm. wavelength for collagen production. In this way, texture and color can be addressed.  There is also the more mild Fraxel Clear and Brilliant laser that targets the same issues.

In general, it is common medical knowledge that fair skin types typically are ideal for these lasers. Discuss the risks and advantages with your physician.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Laser vs IPL for Fair Skin

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

 With your complexion, you could do either treatment safely. It just depends on what benefits you are looking for. IPL (intense pulsed light, Fotofacial) will treat skin problems that are either red or hyperpigmented - blood vessels, rosacea, age spots, etc. There are many different kinds of lasers but in general, lasers treat

wrinkles, acne scars and tighten the skin. Both lasers and IPL can remove freckles which may or may not be desirable. Both can tighten pores although I never promise that this will happen.

  Hope this helps.

William M. Ramsdell, MD
Austin Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Fair skin an laser

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}


The lighter your skin the better candidate you are for laser as you can be aggressively treated with less fear of hyper hyperpigmentation. I am not sure why you were told that this is a problem unless you misinterpreted what someone said as I  can see how someone might have told  that you could be red for a little longer than some other patients with your skin type.

Jo Herzog, MD
Birmingham Dermatologist
4.8 out of 5 stars 20 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.