No Results After First Photofacial?

I went in to the clinic for my first photofacial 3 days ago extremely nervous after reading other people's postings. I figured my face would turn bright red and my skin would start to flake off within a day or two. Although I didn't want this to happen for the short term, I did want to see results. However, nothing happened at all. No redness, no flaking, nothing. I have fair, pinkish skin. I paid a lot of money for 6 of these treatments. Is it possible I will not see any results?

Doctor Answers 6

Photofacial results after 1 treatment

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Photofacials or IPL or BBL are meant to be done in a series of 3-6 treatments. 1 treatment sometimes produces nice improvement, but in some cases you don't really start seeing the results till the 2nd or 3rd treatment. That said, the results are also a function of which machine was used (is it a medical-grade photofacial, or from a salon) and the experience and settings of the laser operator. Be patients, and speak with your dermatologist to make sure you have realistic expectations and good results. ~ Dr. Benjamin Barankin, Toronto Dermatology Centre.

Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon


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 A lot of factors are at work here. First, your base color of skin and the type of problem you have is important.  The darker you are, the more conservative the first treatment.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

IPL requires multiple treatments and is typically no down-time

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Photofacials or IPLs are explained to my patient (in most cases) as a no downtime procedure.  Most patients can walk out of clinic with a little make-up after the procedure without any marked change in the skin.  Typically, brown spots may turn darker and flake off a week after treatment, areas of redness may temporarily be more pink, but this fades quickly.  Pronounced scaling/flaking of the skin is unusual unless IPL is combined during photodynamic therapy.  IPL should always be approached as a series of treatments, more than one treatment is necessary for therapeutic success.  Hang in there.

Melanie D. Palm, MD - Account Suspended
San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon

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Photofacial should not cause redness and peeling

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Photofacial should not cause redness and peeling. These are signs of overheating of the skin and are not necessary for good results. 

Edward Lack, MD
Chicago Dermatologist

Results after a first photofacial

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The first treatment with a laser or light device is as much therapeutic as it is diagnostic.  We as physicians learn how your skin responds to the light treatments at the same time as we treat the skin to obtain results.  An individual's skin varies in the amounts of sun damage and light sensitivity. So the settings of the laser or light device by necessity need to be more conservative on the first treatment so as to minimize the potential for burns or scars. With subsequent treatments the settings on the device will be adjusted based on your skin's response to the first treatment.

With all that, three days are not sufficient to see results.  Even though some results are apparent fairly quickly (like the "coffee grounds" in the pigmented areas) the skin lightening will gradually take place over the next several weeks, assuming the patient is diligent about using sunscreen on a daily basis.

In addition, what you will see is a gradual smoothing and better texture to your skin after a few weeks post-treatment.  We use IPL/photofacials to decrease reds and browns in the skin, but the wavelengths of light that reach the deeper portions of the skin also cause some increase in new collagen generation, a great side benefit of photofacial treatments.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon


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Depending on skin type, the degree of sun damage, and the photofacial settings, results will vary.  I recommend that you see your provider regarding your concerns.

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