Like an idiot, I did not do my research before I...
Like an idiot, I did not do my research before I bought a package of 3 IPL treatments off Groupon because I have visible capillaries and redness on my chin and on and next to my nose that I thought was getting worse with time (I turned 47 a few days after the procedure). She -- a PA -- used a Cutera Something on the right side of my face that felt like she was stubbing tiny cigarettes out on my skin. Half an hour later a huge blister popped out on my chin along with some much smaller ones on and next to my nose. Blistering burns are second-degree burns. Thankfully, the next day I already had scheduled an appointment with my dermatologist to get antibiotics for a horrendous outbreak of cystic acne I had in August 2015 -- I've had persistent, scarring, nodulistic acne on my chin and around my mouth since my teens. She told me to glop Neosporin or Bacitracin on the burns and then she wrote me an Rx for Doxycycline, an anti-acne antibiotic that also has anti-inflammatory properties. The triangular scab on the big blister fell off after 6 days, but there was another, smaller, triangle-shaped scar *below* it -- so I know (now) that the IPL penetrated at least to the dermis. I was so upset about the possibility of scarring that I had to pop Ativan just to get some sleep. The big blister left a slightly depressed and hypo-pigmented scar and there is a tiny white ice-pick hole from a small blister on the left side of my nose -- the side she *didn't* work on. Wonder if the "head" or whatever she used was triangular in shape?
Two weeks later the lymph node on the right side of my neck closest to the right side of my face swelled up for no reason. Then it went down. I never connected it to the IPL because, other than the blisters, there were no side effects at all, not even redness or swelling or tingling or burning or pain. I did not return for the 2 remaining treatments, Groupon refunded all my $, and the PA kept in regular touch with me and even said she was sorry -- which is much better treatment than others on this site have received.
The past week has been awful. I am totally freaking out about the horror stories I just found on RS and other sites. I cannot stop looking at my face every 10 minutes examining for the infamous orange-peel skin and the dreaded fat loss. I spend 8+ hours a day online researching IPL. The skin on most of my right cheek and on part of my left cheek now has the pinkish sheen of epidermal atrophy from IPL photons or whatever they are going just wherever the hell they wanted to on my face, and I seem to have more fine wrinkles around my mouth (thank God she didn't touch my cheeks or forehead, or I'd be in a psych ward right now, I'm so very upset and scared).
Yesterday I looked at my chin from an upside-down angle (face parallel to the floor), and I think there is a triangular depression on the right side of my chin -- next to the faint scar from the big blister -- and I thought OH MY EFFING GOD IT'S STARTED I'M DOOMED. I cannot concentrate and have stopped work entirely on two ambitious projects that I was so excited about only 2 weeks ago.
So, ladies, in your opinion, what is the usual time-frame for the orange-peel skin and catastrophic fat loss to manifest themselves? I have heard as long as 6 months!! Also, I entered menopause in August of 2015, one month before the treatment, so I don't know what is IPL damage and what is due to just aging and/or to cumulative collagen damage from all the cysts* and/or the 20 years of heavy drinking and light smoking that I did. But I've avoided the sun like a vampire for 30 years, so I've always been mistaken for 10-15 years younger than my age and I would like to stay that way.
* Cysts also produce benzoyl peroxide, which, in and of itself, attacks surrounding collagen fibers.
New Wrinkles and Photosensitivity
Both pix are of the right side of my face. The one taken on 2/2/16 shows the pink blotchiness that pops up every time I am in the sun. See how the areas around my eyes are not affected? That's where the plastic (should've been metal) goggles were. She did not target my cheeks or temples or forehead, but the IPL sent its photons or whatever all over the place, and to God only know what depths in my skin, causing God only knows what sort of damage, because IPL uses different wavelengths of light.
The other one was taken today 2/9/16 and shows the right side of my face smiling in the bathroom mirror. See all those lines? I didn't have them before. There are some on my left cheek, as well, but not as bad as on the ones on the right, the side that got the brunt of the IPL. The pores in the wrinkled areas seem to have larger pores, as well. My skin has been FRIED and seems drier, so I am slathering on olive oil. I ordered Imedeen tablets because Vivida are not available and I will explore dermarolling/dermastamping. I also just had to take an Ativan to stave off a massive panic attack.
Waiting to see what additional damage is going to surface and when it will surface is a bit like being informed that there's a 50-50 chance of your getting inoperable terminal cancer in the next few months or even years, but there's no way to tell if and when and how that's going happen. My shrink has upped my antidepressant and my therapist says she sees no changes, but this is driving me crazy to the point where *now* I'm terrified to look in any mirrors or even to touch my face.
Popping Pills and Spending $$
11 Feb 2016
5 months post
Can't believe I put my face -- the only thing I halfway like about myself -- into the hands of a total stronger who may have had as little as two days' worth of training on an extremely dangerous thermal device that sprayed photons all over most of the right side of my face and part of the left side, even though she didn't actually touch my cheeks, forehead, or temples. Have gone from checking my face every 10 minutes to being terrified of looking at my face at all. Had to get an Rx for Ativan from my shrink and am smoking again from sheer nerves.
Just bought Neocell Fish Collagen w/HA pills and Source Naturals Skin Eternal HA pills because someone on another site says they reversed the epidermal atrophy she got from Retin-A. Next up: a .25mm dermaroller.
Many thanks to anyone who is reading this review!
6-Month Botched IPL Review Update and New Dermarolling/Microneedling Review for IPL Damage
Please see my new review of Derma Roller for IPL damage (posted today).
I will update this review of IPL on 3/21/16 (I sincerely hope I don't develop any fat loss by then!).
Six-Month Review of Results of Botched IPL Treatment
14 Mar 2016
6 months post
This six-month update is one week early. The IPL damage I've sustained so far may be seen in these photos taken 3/11/16 and 3/14/16 in my bathroom mirror -- aka "the Mirror of Dorian Gray" because it highlights so many of the flaws on my face. NOTE: I have got a bit of coconut oil on in these pix, so the negative effects you see are actually *worse.*
The aforementioned negative effects include:
1) enlargement and spreading of visible pores in my formerly-oily T-zone;
2) shiny skin -- not depicted due to need for certain types of natural lighting to see it;
3) round and triangular indentations on the right side of my chin; and, worst of all,
4) eye-to-jaw wrinkles that not even my mother -- who is almost 77 years old and has blithely abused her skin for many decades -- has on her cheeks.
Plus, my skin has gone from normal/oily to dry all over, which is a bad thing because wrinkles form and embed themselves in dry skin more easily than they do in normal and oily skin.
I've recently begun microneedling for this damage, and if you like you can see my ongoing review under "Derma Roller" in the Treatments category.
Full Disclosure: My age (47) and the fact that I entered menopause in August of 2015 and that I've suffered recurrent attacks of nodular cystic acne on the sides of my chin since my teens should be factored into your own, personal evaluation of my skin's current condition. However, you should also keep in mind that effects of the sort seen in my pix are presenting, post-IPL, in much-younger women without a history of cystic acne and sometimes in conjunction with full or partial fat loss.
More IPL Deterioration Six Months Out
I have only seen these masses of long, thin wrinkles on people with significant photodamage from IPL. There are enlarging pores all over my face, and I can no longer deny that I have the infamous orange-peel skin. Tiny tears are also emerging, I hope you can see them in the pix. It's hard to tell, though, if I have any fat loss yet, because I am 45 pounds overweight, and also menopausal (facial volume decreases naturally with age due to fat-cell apoptosis).
Fine Wrinkles from IPL
19 Apr 2016
7 months post
Despite my ramped-up facial photosensitivity from the IPL treatment I suffered back in September 2015, I took this photo in direct sunlight to show the masses of long, fine wrinkles that have spread across my cheeks and that have clustered around my mouth. (The pinkness on my chin is from chronic post-inflammatory erythema, also known as PIE, from decades of cystic acne.)
I have only seen this kind of super-aging effect in people who are:
very photo-damaged (like sun bunnies and tanning enthusiasts)
very unlucky in terms of botched IPL, laser, and/or radiofrequency/ultrasound treatments
If I had known of or been told of the extreme oxidative stress on the skin that can be delivered by non-solar (i.e. IPL) photodamage, after the treatment I would have gone straight to a burn ward and had myself anti-oxidated into the next millennium. In fact, I never would have booked the effing procedure in the first place.
One week ago, I emailed KHAREL WEIR at the Northern Virginia Wellness Center (aka Pimedspa) with links to the two reviews I have on this site. The email was titled "Six-Month Progress Report on IPL Treatment." It was terse but polite. I have not received a response yet.
Closeup Pic of Right Cheek and Chin Area
3 Jul 2016
10 months post
When I smile even a little bit, all those enlarged pores link up and form masses of long vertical fine lines that spread across my cheeks and gather around my mouth. As I get more thorough with my monthly 1.00mm dermaroller needling sessions, I am hoping these will go away over the next 1 - 2 years.
More Damage Emerging 10 Months Out
21 Jul 2016
10 months post
My other review has good news, but here is the bad:
As you know, the right side of my face took the brunt of the IPL. Lately I have noticed what seems to be a slight recession (loss) of volume on the right side of my face in the inner cheek area near my mouth where the crinkly, crepe-y wrinkles gather when I smile and that are apparent even when I *don't smile. There is a slighter recession on the left cheek in the same area.
Is it dermal atrophy? I don't know. Is it lipoatrophy (fat loss)? I don't know. I also don't know if it is due to the IPL or to natural aging (I will 48 in September and have been menopausal for almost a year). However, I recently read about a woman who only just developed dermal atrophy from a botched laser procedure she had FOUR YEARS ago! These thermal "beauty" treatments are the gift that just keeps on giving, aren't they. When does it stop???
On top of that, I am developing jowls -- where my jaw used to be straight line, it's now a very slight s-curved line on my left and a slight s-curved line on my right. Again, is it IPL-related sagging? Age-related sagging? Both?? IDFK.
In addition, there has been no change in the aforementioned crinkly, crepe-y wrinkles that were created when IPL fried my elastin and caused my epidermis to contract and now, for all I know, is making my dermis recede.
Finally, I have become invisible to men of all ages. This time last year, I was being pursued by guys aged 20 to 50. Now they all just call me "ma'am."
I quit smoking (again), but it is so upsetting that I want to light up this one last cigarette that I held onto in case of an emergency.
Thank you, IPL!!!
Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of my IPL treatment fiasco. After enjoying almost poreless and nearly wrinkle-free skin at the advanced age of 46,* over the next few months I developed a shiny epidermis from scar collagen and the following:
1) enlarged pores all over my face that can link up to form lines;
2) long vertical wrinkles spreading across my cheeks;
3) two "micro-tears": one resembled a deep fissure as if I had stuck my face with an upholstery needle, and the other is this sci-fi-looking trough in the shape of shallow, geometrical rhombus that does not appear natural at all and must be the result of DNA damage (see paragraph on radiation below**);
4) tight, dry skin everywhere when I used to have supple, normal or oily skin;
5) two indentations on the sides of my mouth and chin, one round and one triangular, respectively;
6) masses of thin, crepey lines that form around my mouth whenever I smile;
7) a gritty, granular texture on the side of my neck;
8) much deeper crow's feet when I smile; and
9) abnormal wrinkles on my forehead when I lift my eyebrows. Other people's forehead wrinkles go: smooth skin - wrinkle - smooth skin - wrinkle - smooth skin - wrinkle - etc. Mine go: wrinkle - wrinkle - wrinkle - wrinkle - wrinkle. I have only seen this effect in persons with a great deal of sun damage or with IPL damage.
10) In addition, the enormous amounts of horror, anger, confusion, and despair that had to be dealt with via meds, therapy, and connecting with other victims.
11) Finally, the fear that the damage might continue unchecked by time or treatments, leading to resistant or worse wrinkles and/or more indentations and/or fat loss.
IPL can deplete or destroy any or all of the following critical elements that keep your face youthful: oil glands, elastin levels, collagen levels, and volumizing fat. (BTW, only fat is a kind of cell.)
There is another review of mine, on microneedling for IPL damage in the Derma Roller treatment section, which I will be updating next on September 26 with a couple of bits of good news. I will continue to update that review. This review, however, is closed.
Thanks very much everybody for your great questions and suggestions! Hang in there!!
* I've uploaded a picture of my skin before the procedure. Yes, the lighting is ideal, but it really did look like that, and on the day that this photograph was taken my chin was actually behaving itself (usually it is a FEMA disaster zone due to chronic cystic acne and PIE).
**I received both thermal and radiation damage to my skin, especially on the right side of my face where she concentrated the light pulses (but they sprayed all over regardless). All light, including the invisible kind, is comprised of photons, which are irradiated particles. These things can be so damaging that museums have very strict policies about how much and what kind of light that very delicate objects may receive while on display or in storage. It's also the reason that staying out of the sun is so crucial for preserving young-looking skin.