I’m Not Seeing the Same Reaction after My IPL

Have you noticed dark spots getting darker after your first IPL treatment, but not seeing this reaction again. Keep reading to learn more.

What causes dark spots on my skin?

Uneven color and dark spots are some of the most common concerns people have about their skin. It makes the skin tone appear not uniform. There are many reasons your skin changes like this. But by far the most common reason is from the sun. Over time the sun damages your skin. With high amounts of exposure, sun damage stimulates your skin to product pigment. This is your body’s natural form of protection from sun burns and other damage, like a sun tan. But over time you may see dark spots that may look like freckles which don’t go away. This is from the sun and it’s one of the reasons why you want to use sunscreen every day. You should look for a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and broad-spectrum protection. This will protect your skin against both UVA and UVB damage from the sun. What if you’re not going into the sun? It’s still important to apply sunscreen because you can still get exposure to the sun at times when you think you’re not. For example, when you’re driving, you’re technically not outside. But you’re getting sun exposure through the windows. This is a reason why a lot of people that drive a lot get more sun damage on their left side.

What is an IPL photofacial?

An IPL photofacial, or simply IPL, is a laser treatment used to treat multIPLe concerns in your skin. IPL stands for intense pulsed light. The IPL treatment uses bright light to target and destroy dark spots and redness in your skin. The pigment or blood absorbs the light, heats up, and gets destroyed. For best results, you want a series of six IPL treatments. You can do them about once a month. Then you’ll want to have one maintenance treatment about every three to four months. This will keep your skin looking good and prevent the sun damage from coming back. The IPL treatment is easy and straightforward. You can expect to be in the office for about 45 minutes to an hour. After washing your face and taking baseline pictures to monitor your progress, you’ll have numbing cream applied to your skin for about 15 minutes. This makes the IPL treatment really comfortable. Then the numbing cream is cleaned off and your skin will be cleaned with special cleansing solutions. You’ll have eye protection over your eyes. But since the IPL uses intense light, you’ll still see the light. Just keep your eyes closed and you’ll be fine. Cold gel is used to transmit the light and we blow cold air on your skin during the IPL treatment to keep you comfortable. The IPL treatment feels like a hot rubber band snapping on your skin. It takes just a few minutes and most people tolerate the IPL treatment very well. After the treatment, we take off your eye protection, clean your skin, and apply sunscreen. Then you’re ready to go.

Why do the spots get darker after my IPL treatment?

The pigment that builds up in your skin over time is usually in multIPLe layers of your skin, both in the surface layers and the deeper layers. When you treat your skin with topical skin care products, an IPL, or another treatment such as a chemical peel, the pigment in the surface layers is targeted first. That’s just because it's closer to the surface where the products are being applied or where the treatment is being done. The normal reaction when the pigment absorbs the light is that it gets darker. When the pigment that gets darker is in the surface layers of your skin it’s easy to see because it’s closer to your eyes. And since it’s close to the surface, it usually exfoliates or flakes off. That’s why you may see a coffee ground appearance. You’ll see this the most after your first treatment because the pigment in the surface layers of your skin will absorb the light first. After your first one to three treatments, the majority of the pigment in the surface layers is gone. So you probably won’t see the same reaction. Now the deeper pigment is being treated. Since this pigment is deeper, it’s harder to see with the naked eye and you may not see the same kind of darkening. Also, since it’s not in the surface layers, it won’t flake off. Instead, it’s absorbed by your skin. Either way, this is good because you’re getting rid of all of the unwanted pigment. This doesn’t mean that the IPL treatment isn’t working. It is, it’s just now working more in the deeper layers. What you really want to look at is the difference in your before and after pictures after your series of IPL treatments. Don’t worry if you’re not getting the same reaction on your skin every time.

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Dr. Alex has performed over 10,000 cosmetic treatments with many satisfied patients. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a free consultation with Dr. Alex in our Encino, CA office.

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