Why Didn't I See Results After Photofacial?

I recently had a Photofacial on my upper chest area and saw no changes from it. I previously had some on my face at a different clinic years ago and remember getting really dark spots where damage was healing.

I’m wondering if the technician just had the settings too low or if the wavelength was different? I thought I remembered seeing flashes of blue light when I had my face done and it was certainly more painful. I could be wrong about the blue but I remember being surprised when I kept seeing flashes of red light at each pulse this time.

It’s been several days and absolutely nothing has happened, no redness, no spots, nothing. Would this be the intensity or the wavelength that is off because I have plenty of sun damage? Thank you so much.

Doctor Answers 6

No early changes seen following Photofacial on the chest.

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Is the sun damage on the chest brown pigmentation or red?  Following treatment with the correct wavelength and fluency (energy) the expected result is darkening of the brown spots and the reds more red.  Brown pigmentation is easier to treat than red pigmentation.  Changes may be seen after one treatment but can take up to six treatments for maximum results.  The parameters for the intense pulsed light should be reviewed.

Brampton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Wait to see results

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Sometimes, one session isn't enough to do anything. I suggest you wait and see what happens after your recommended number of sessions.


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It may take several treatments for you to see results.  It may also depend on how much sun damage you have on your chest as well. 

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews

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Optimizing results of Photofacial treatment

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It takes a few treatments with Photofacial to attain the desired results.  As to your concern about  not seeing darkening this time could be due to the different sun damage on the chest vs the skin in your particular case.  Most likely you had some dark spots on the face, that typically get darker or might even form some superficial "coffee grind" crusting.  On the chest we typically see more of a vascular type of sun damage, which responds differently during the healing phase. 

Make sure that your practitioner has lots of experience with Photofacial treatments, as it takes expertise and good judgment to treat each individual skin type and set the IPL unit properly.  It also takes anywhere between 3-6 treatments to obtain the desired result.

Boris M. Ackerman, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Why IPL didn't help

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IPL machines do use both red and blue light so it's possible that your observations are correct in that you are seeing a different type of light for each treatment. In addition, if you have more redness on the chest than you had on your previous facial treatments, it's possible that the practitioner was using the different colored (wavelength) of light because he/she was going after a different target (vascularity of the redness vs pigment of the sun damage).

Another possibility as you have pointed out is that the energy level may have been different for the two treatments. This issue could be open for discussion and debate with the practitioner, but it could also be lower because of the area of the body (face vs. chest) as the chest does not heal as well as the face.

Finally, we think your practitioner is using the wrong tool for both conditions. Sun damage responds most quickly and most permanently with q-switched laser treatments and facial and/or chest redness responds most easily with pulsed dye laser treatments. While an IPL can be a useful machine for a practice that does a limited number of laser treatments, it is not as targeted or powerful as either of the lasers just noted and for this reason may not be the right tool -- even when high fluences (energies) are used.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Results after photofacial

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Sometimes it can take a few weeks to really appreciate results after a photofacial. The skin should tighten a bit, and redness, blood vessels, and brown spots should begin to fade. That said, often 3-6 treatment sessions are required for optimal results. At the same time, the type of machine, settings, and the experience of the person administering the treatment are very important parameters.

Benjamin Barankin, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon

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.