IPL Alternative for People with Sun Sensitivities?

I recently visited a well known cosmetic dermatologist regarding reducing the redness from capillaries around my nose as well as evening out my facial skintone. She suggested IPL and we scheduled my first appointment.

I did some research beforehand and discovered that IPL is NOT recommended for those with sun sensitivities (which I have; I get a very red blotchy itchy rash sometimes when I'm out in the sun for extended periods or several days at a time)!

I'm a bit 'steamed' that she neither informed me about this, nor was it on the medical form I filled out! In any case, are there treatments that can reduce redness/capillaries that is safe for those with photosensitivities?

Doctor Answers 4

IPL on sensitive skin

First, IPL can be tested on your skin to see how you react without doing the entire face. If you are very sensitive to the IPL, then the test spot should be more reactive than ordinary conditions. Second, sometimes skin care product lines can be used to slowly improve your skin overtime. There are other systems can be used to treat small capillaries or spider veins.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Alternative treatment for red skin tones

IPL is a great treatment for red tones and broken capillaries, but can sometimes cause mild swelling on sensitive skin. The best treatment for these skin concerns is Cutera's Laser Genesis. It's a relaxing treatment that takes about 30 mintues and there is no downtime. It reduces redness, shrinks pore size, builds new collagen for improvement of fine lines and texture.

William J. Hedden, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 315 reviews

IPL may be ok for those with "sun sensitivity" depending on the situation.

Try not to be upset with your "well known cosmetic dermatologist" about the suggestion of IPL for your nose capillaries and overall evening of skin tone. It might well be an excellent choice for you. The warnings about sun sensitivity need to be taken into the proper medical context by your physician with you through an informed conversation. IPL does not include ultraviolet wavelengths of light, which is commonly what causes a "sun allergy" type of rash, so if performed properly and safely, with good post-treatment instructions to you (including avoiding sun), you may do very well with IPL. I recommend a small test area with the IPL after the discussion with the physician, and thoroughly educating yourself, which you are in the process of doing.

Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Pulsed Dye Lasers for Facial Redness

The best laser for your situation is not the Laser Genesis nor an IPL. Do a bit of research on "pulsed dye lasers" such as the Cynosure V-Star and Candela V-Beam. Chances are your dermatologist does not own these types of lasers but they are most commonly used for Rosacea, Port wine stains (red birthmarks) and other vascular lesions and veins.

The reason this laser is most suited for your condition is because they are designed with a target of hemoglobin (a component of the blood). Because the light energy is preferentially absorbed in hemoglobin, these lasers are more effective at getting rid of the redness you describe than either of the IPL or the Genesis.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 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.