Does Being Fair-Skinned Make Me a Better IPL Candidate? (photo)

I'm 29, have no acne and great skin texture. My fair skin looks a bit freckled. It's not very noticeable but I'm always looking to improve my skin. My normal skin care center said IPL "Photo Rejuvenation" would work flawlessly on me. I was excited about trying it until I read all the negative reviews here. Is it really a safer bet for fair skin? Are there any catastrophic and/or permanent risks? I trust my technician and the equipment, but I want to be fully informed.

Doctor Answers 1

Does Being Fair-Skinned Make Me a Better IPL Candidate

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IPL is attracted to color, so if you are lighter skinned, except for the freckles and marks, it means the machine head will be able to target those specific areas better. It's not totally necessary that you be lighter skinned, as experienced offices can treat all skin types well. There are many, many IPL machines on the market and many ways to do the treatments, so that is the first thing. My office has done over 120,000 treatments and the machine we use is made by Syneron, so it is IPL with a RF (radio frequency) component to it. IPL targets heat and color in the face. We use a very cold air chiller during the treatment that does two things: 1. helps with patient comfort, and 2. helps drive the IPL deeper to the pigment because if the surface is colder the IPL is forced to go into the skin farther to find the heat. This allows our machine to target much deeper pigments like freckles, age spots, and melasma. Certain types of pigment is in the skin at different depths and specific IPL machines just can't get in deep enough if there's not a cold source or RF driving the IPL light in deeper. We also do multiple passes of the treatment head, and sometimes use an additional treatment called Laser Genesis, along with our FotoFacial IPLs, so our treatments take 60 minutes.

We normally recommend a series of 5 treatments. While some offices will say 3 is acceptable, I just don't think patients get enough response with only 3 and have found over the years that a minimum of 5 is needed so that is why my offices does packages. As the pigment starts rising after each treatment, you will see certain pigments and areas of pigmentation fade, and some will rise. Doing additional treatments allows the pigment to rise all the way out.

Additionally I will let you know that most patients don't see a tremendous amount of skin change after just one treatment. It's after two and three that their skin really starts seeing the benefits and they are able to see more of the changes in the skin tone, color, and texture.

The most important thing other than the technology used and the way the office does the treatments is to make sure you go to an office that has a physician actively involved in your care. Most people that I see that say they did IPL somewhere and "it didn't work", do a treatment at my office and say "that is NOT what I had before". So it's VERY important to have good equipment, good treatment technique, and a good doctor involved every step of the way.

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.