How Long Does It Take for Color to Come Back After IPL? (photo)

I had an IPL done on my arms 11 days ago, and when the dark areas came off I was left with pink/white skin that is much lighter than my original coloring. How long will this take to heal? Are there any other treatment options? I have had my face, back and chest done multiple times before with success.

Doctor Answers 3

IPL should be performed on the arms with great caution !

The face, neck, chest and hands do respond very well to IPL when performed at the correct settings for your skin type. 


In contrast, the arms are very special and require lower settings for your first treatment. There are unfortunately alot of pictures similiar or worse than yours on the internet...bars of white that can last for months. 


The good news the pigment does typically return and your arms will look normal again. 


Do stay out of the sun.

Don't have any additional treatments of IPL, peels, or anything else that can cause inflammation like retin A or hydroquinone.


Be a patient patient.

Stockton Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

How long for color to return after IPL

It is difficult to say how long it will take the color to return to normal, but typically I would say 2-3 months. Make sure you are going to a medically-supervised clinic for your IPL or laser treatments to minimize this risk of discoloration and more importantly burns.

Benjamin Barankin, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 53 reviews

IPL/FotoFacial for pigmentation on the arms

Although IPL can be done successfully on the arms, that area can be tricky.  The best way to approach treating pigmentation on the arms, shoulders is to 1) pretreat with a glycolic lotion,  2) have your clinician perform 2-3 chemical peels in the area to reduce excess pigment and break it up.  Then a series of  IPL can be done carefully (using a longer wavelength) and meticulously (as seen in the picture, the lightguide was turned every direction, with gaps between) to finish up the process.  This technique will result in an even, favorable result.  Also, I'm not sure if you were intimating that there were scabs after the treatment, but this is not the desired end point.  My suggestion is to let that skin heal fully, at least 3 weeks, then have your doctor or his/her clinician treat as recommended above to even out that skin.  It will take some time, but I am confident if done correctly, you should not have an undesireable outcome.  Good luck! 

Mario J. Imola, MD, DDS
Denver Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 117 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.