Single IPL Made Face Look Awful - Colorado, CO

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I'm 24 years old and suffer from mild rosacea on...

I'm 24 years old and suffer from mild rosacea on primarily my cheeks. My Derm recommended I try IPL as a possible solution to my mild redness and flushing. Well, I wish I could turn back time and NEVER show up for that appointment. After making an appointment with another doctor, a supposed "IPL expert and educator" (someone other than my regular Derm - she doesn't do IPL in her office) I am left with skin that is completely wrinkled and crepey. My 64 year old mother has better skin than I do! This is not "micro-swelling" or "dry skin," this is damaged skin. I would also like those who may be considering this procedure to know, that I had a completely comfortable and normal experience. The machine barely hurt, and the doctor told me he was using a very low setting as I had requested him to be extra conservative (told him I'd rather the machine do nothing at all, than burn me). Well after the procedure I felt fine, my skin had very minimal swelling, and I only had mild flushing in my cheek area for around 1 hour after the procedure. The next morning I woke up and noticed my cheeks looked a little more wrinkly than normal, but I figured that was to be expected since I had just traumatized the area and this would of course go away.. Well it didn't and things have just gotten worse. I now have little wrinkly lines all over my cheeks! (looks like my pores played a game of connect the dots)! My little brother blatantly stated, "your skin looks just like a raisin!" Sad, but the description is an apt one. The machine used was a Lumenis IPL without RF and was just serviced a month prior to my procedure. I would also like others to know that I was considered the perfect candidate for IPL, as I have very fair but thick skin, that doesn't ever tan. Although I will say that the IPL cleared my redness, it came at a terrible price. I have always taken excellent care of my skin and have worn sunscreen daily since I was 12 years old (thanks mom). My skin before this procedure was truly close to perfect, and now it is a wreck. Another sad development was the odd dent that has started to appear under my right eye. At first I thought I was focusing on my face too much and that it was nothing, but then a few days passed and I really started to see a problem. Developing, is a dark dent under my right eye that perfectly outlines the IPL machine head that was used. I went back to the doctor who performed this procedure and he stated that, "there is no way that the IPL could have caused this damage, especially not the dent in my face (also interesting he didn't deny there was damage). " WELL.. THAT IS NOT TRUE!!! I went home and researched the IPL machine used and read up on Lumenis' annual 10k report, and under the "Risk Factors" section it states clear as day, "Our systems may not be able to meet patient expectations and there may be adverse side effects from the procedures for which our products are used. Laser and IPL systems are inherently complex in design and require ongoing scheduled maintenance. Despite pre-market testing, our products may malfunction when used by our customers, due to their technical complexity. In rare instances, patients may receive burns, blisters, skin discoloration or skin depressions..." UMM hello!!! Skin depressions anyone? It's right there in the quarterly report!!! And this doctor is telling me that "It can't happen?!" When I sent him this information via e-mail and told him I was upset that these potential side effects were never disclosed to me, he never responded back to me! LADIES LISTEN TO ME... This is not an easy "lunch time" procedure that is safe, with "no side effects." For some I understand this procedure works miracles, but for others the results are devastating. Too many people on this site have had their faces compromised for a supposedly "easy" procedure. I had one IPL, JUST ONE! And it was done by a highly regarded doctor in a medical office, with years of IPL experience and accreditation. I did not do this procedure at some back alley medical spa with a cheap machine. I regret it every single day. Don't be me, find another way to treat your skin issues.
I've since been using Psoria- gold and moisturizing the heck out of my skin with emu oil, and been wearing high SPF sunscreen every day. Nothing has helped so far. I have an appointment set up with my original derm to see the damage and hopefully help treat it. Will let you guys know how it goes. Thanks for reading my story. Photos to come... I have not posted the name of the doctor for legal reasons.

Here Are Some Pictures

Decided to provide some pictures for you guys, because without pictures my warning is pretty much heresay. My face looked nothing like this before the SINGLE IPL treatment. My face was smooth and gorgeous with just a little redness. When I went back to the doctor he tried to tell me that this was "natural aging" and that my skin looked great. A complete insult to my intelligence to try and gaslight me into thinking everything was "fine." It is not fine, and I am not the only one who has noticed the damage. This does not look like the skin of any 24 year old I know. Ladies please DO NOT do this procedure. Think back to the days of Thermage when people were complaining of burns and fat loss/ atrophy, and the doctors absolutely denied this could happen...Well here we are today and now they are saying that "it can happen." Any advice you guys can give would be great, I am at a loss right now and deeply upset. I can't even wear makeup to cover the damage, it just makes things look worse.

Another Doctor's Opinion

What is truly sad is that I have now been to two different MD's to see if they can help with whatever has happened to my face. One stated that perhaps the machine heated my skin up too much and I sustained excessive thermal damage. He also suggested that perhaps the right cut off filters were not used, and that maybe the IPL machine damaged some of my surrounding tissue (this was all just speculation). The second doctor I saw was completely at a loss, he asked me if I was sure that I did not have Lupus or another genetic disorder that would have made me sensitive to light exposure (I don't have anything, nor do I take any medications that would cause this). I personally love how doctors will try and come up with something organically wrong with you before they will ever admit that your problem could have been the fault of a highly complex and temperamental machine. My issue is not that I am having a problem with my treatment outcome (which is awful), my problem is that doctors are not adequately warning their patients about potential adverse side effects. I have found multiple sources online that state potential side effects that were not listed anywhere on the form at my MD's practice or in any follow up conversations we had prior to the procedure. In my opinion this is criminal. What has happened is we have taken real medicine and real medical procedures and turned them into simple cosmetic events. IPL is not something to be taken lightly. The effects can be awful and many of the positive results you may get from treatment aren't even permanent. DO NOT DO IT! I have also added a picture of what my face used to look like prior to IPL and one of what it looks like now. If you don't believe IPL can damage your face check them out, and you decide if you want to take the risk or not.

Filler Galore....

Well... I didn't think it was possible, but there is no doubt in my mind that I have suffered some kind of fat loss/ volume loss from IPL. I know so many doctors say this is NOT possible, but I have no idea what else would have caused my cheeks to completely deflate to the point that my regular dermatologist noticed immediately and stated "something has gone wrong..." No kidding!! I have since had Voluma filler, Restylane filler (both regular and Silk), and last but not least Belotero put into my face in varying ways and at varying depths. I have now spent over $3,000 dollars to try and fix my face. My texture is still horrible but at least I have a bit of volume back in my face. Unfortunately the dents (yes, literal dents! Look on the manufacturer's website, b/c it is a potential and real side effect they don't tell you about!!) from where the laser head touched my face, have not completely evened out. For some reason, the dents/ depressions don't respond very well to filler. Although the depressions do fill of course, the filler seems to reabsorb much more quickly in these spots. I cannot believe that a single IPL treatment on conservative settings has destroyed my face like this. I believe that I was burned underneath my skin and that I sustained, for whatever reason, excessive amounts of thermal damage. I'm hoping that as time goes on, I will see some healing and improvement. Can I ask all of you that have had damage, did it/ does it get better? I don't think I can handle my skin getting any worse. I know many people say that it always appears worse to you than it does to others, but sadly for me, I don't think that this holds true. Almost all of my friends (half of them men!) have asked me what happened to my face, and a few asked me if I had been ill. I was actually in Whole Foods yesterday trying to find a mild moisturizer and while picking up a product, the sales rep came over and stated, (while examining my face in a nice way), "that would be a great one for you, it's especially good for post-acne scarred skin." I know she was just trying to be nice and helpful, but I almost cried and broke down right there in the middle of Whole Foods. I've never had acne in my whole life, let alone "scarred skin." I'm beyond upset. LADIES NEVER DO AN IPL!!!! The results are not permanent and they are not worth the potential risks. You can cover freckles and redness, you cannot cover wrinkles and sunken areas.
I am 24 years old!!! If this doesn't get better/ gets worse, I'm looking at a face lift by the time I am 30. Absolutely horrible.

Long Overdue Update

Hi guys! So sorry for not updating sooner. I got promoted and have been traveling non-stop! Interestingly, it was when I was traveling overseas for my job, that I made the best discovery for helping my skin (more about that to follow). As of today, my skin is around 60% better. I think most of this is due to my age, a healthy diet (drinking plenty of water), and allowing my skin time to heal. Below are the things that have made a genuine difference in my skin:

1. Chemical Peels - Light chemical peels won't cut it, I had to undergo a series of deeper chemical peels to help with my damage (TCA 40+). I tried to find someone in my area who still performed Phenol spot peels (for a few of the larger indents/ scars), but to no avail. It seems everyone has been swept up in the great "laser wave."
2. I have undergone 2 deep (in office) micro needling treatments - AFTER having used Retin-A for 3+ months prior (the Retin-A helps encourage new collagen and speeds remodeling of the tissue).
3. I have been using SPF 50+ sunscreen everyday and have kept my face completely out of the sun.
4. I had a few injections of dermal filler (some deeper for volume loss and some superficially on specific areas)
5. The thing I found to be the most helpful (it is not available in the U.S. yet) was Restylane Skinboosters - essentially a series of microinjections with hyaluronic acid filler. I had this procedure done in the U.K. and it made a noticeable difference for me. I cannot wait until it comes to the U.S., as I would say after this treatment, my skin improved by another 20%. I was amazed.
The last thing I will add that I truly believe has helped my skin, is the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum. It's expensive, but awesome.
This has been a long and cumbersome journey to say the least. I am still astonished that this procedure caused so much damage to my young face, but I can't do anything more about it. I will state again, that if you are thinking about this procedure, please consider the risk(s) you are taking. You may be trading one problem for an even bigger problem. In my case, I traded slightly red, young skin, for skin that looked as if I had aged 20+ years overnight (complete with scars, indents, and wrinkles). If you are reading this and are bent on having this procedure done, I noticed something about my skin that may help you. The right side of my face is significantly more damaged than my left. This wasn't due to a difference in machine setting(s) or surface area covered. I firmly believe this was because I put ice on the left side of my face immediately after the procedure, but did not do so on the right side of my face (was driving home and couldn't hold ice on both sides). I believe that I was burned and the ice mitigated some of the damage to my left side.

Hope this helps you all! My love and strength to everyone!

Another Update - To Answer Some Q's

Depending on peel strength, I waited anywhere from two weeks to a month between peels. I did not find that the peels aggravated my rosacea, but I do not have a severe case, (this may not hold true for everyone as peels can be incredibly irritating for people with sensitive/ sensitized skin). Interestingly, I found that a steady application of salicylic acid actually helped my rosacea a bit (2-5%). As to those of you who are considering lasers to fix previous damage, I would say proceed with extreme caution. If you did not respond well to IPL or BBL, your skin may not respond well to more invasive lasers. The reason I chose chemical peels was b/c I felt that I had more control, and there was no heat involved. I firmly believe that some of the heat that these lasers produce, does more harm than good. I am not condemning the use of lasers, however, I would ask yourself if you're emotionally prepared for the chance that things could get worse. If not, I wouldn't chance it.
Thank you all for the support, love and kind words. Take your healing one day at a time.
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