Will Photodynamic Therapy and IPL for Acne Result in Eyebrow Hair Loss?

I recently underwent this procedure for acne. The technician applied Levulan to my face and then exposed me to orange and blue light. Afterwards, I noticed that a few of my beard hairs were singed off. I did some research and found that IPL is a hair removal method. I also found that hair removal is achieved at 590+ nm and that orange light's wavelength is in the 590-620 nm range. She zapped me with the orange light on the forehead, and so I'm concerned that it will result in eyebrow loss.

Doctor Answers 3

PDT & Hair Loss

When you say that the technician exposed you to a blue light and "orange light," do you mean "red light?" You are correct, the red light source does emit within the 600nm wavelength range, but is much different than an IPL and is not used for hair removal. If an IPL was truly used to activate the levulan, treating the forehead is different than treating the actual eyebrow, and wouldn't necessarily result in hair removal, as the forehead is commonly treated when treating the face.  If the eyebrow was in fact treated, one treatment is not typically enough to cause permanent hair reduction.

San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

Photodynamic therapy using IPL

If the IPL is fired on the eyebrow hair, then you can certainly lose some hair. The levulan and IPL should really be used on the skin, and the laser technician or physician must be careful to ensure that the hairs of the eyebrows are not hit with the laser as otherwise it may cause thinning or hair loss in the eyebrows.

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

Eyebrow Hair Loss

If the technician did not "zap" the eyebrows, you should not have any concerns about eyebrow hair loss.  IPLs have been used as a treatment method to reduce unwanted body hair.  At our practice, if any men are undergoing IPL treatments, we inform them that the hair may grow back patchy in the beard area before proceeding with treatment.  Our office also performs PDT for treatment of acne and precancerous growths.  We have not seen any reduction of hair growth with PDT alone.  However, in a pilot study hair removal with topical aminolevulinic acid (ALA) has been reported.  A mean hair loss of 40% was reported in 12 volunteer subjects after a single exposure to 630 nm light 3 hours after an application of 20% ALA to the skin.

Lenore Sikorski, MD
Orange County Dermatologist
4.3 out of 5 stars 24 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.