While on vacation in San Salvador I had IPL in a plastic surgeon's office. I didn't time it, but the treatment took only 20 minutes or so.
I'm not sure how others could describe IPL as painful. It stung around my eyes and nose, and a couple of times I flinched. But seriously, it was nothing that could be described as pain. Uncomfortable might be a good description. Afterwards, my face felt hot, like I had a bad sunburn. I took 2 aspirins and it went away.
Within about 3 hours, the redness went away and my sun damage spots (what I used to call freckles until they became big blotches!) started to turn coffee brown. The next morning, the spots had started to slough off. One place under my eye remained red for a while, and I put Vitamin E cream on it.
By day 3, the brown spots were almost gone, and my face looks brighter, clearer, and younger than it has in years. I also noticed that the pores on my nose are less prominent.
Had I known how effective IPL was, I would not have wasted 100's of dollars on topical treatments to achieve what this single procedure fixed in 20 minutes.
I plan to maintain with retin-A and lots of sunscreen!