IPL Laser Treatment Side Effects and Details

Treatment Side Effects

  • There may be some discomfort or pain associated with treatment
  • Transient erythema/edema may appear immediately following treatment.
  • Pigmented lesions may become darker for up to fourteen days following treatment.
  • Acceptable results will likely take a number of treatments, usually four to six. The entire program should be planned at the outset to promote compliance and realistic expectations.
  • There is a small risk of adverse reactions such as changes in the texture and pigmentation of the skin. These are usually transient and rare. 

Treatment Photography

It is highly recommended to take photographs before each treatment, to document the progress of treatment (left, right, and front of the treated area). Because improvement takes place gradually, a photographic record is extremely important for accurate evaluation, as well as providing a strong basis for patient satisfaction.

Treatment Discomfort

When a pulse is triggered, it may cause various degrees of discomfort. Some describe the sensation as stinging, while others liken it to a rubber band snap. A burning sensation may last for up to an hour after treatment. Most patients are able to tolerate this discomfort, but some people may require a topical anesthetic

Potential Risks with IPL Treatment

Damage to natural skin texture

A crust or blister may form, which may take from five to ten days to heal. 

Change of pigmentation

There may be a change of pigmentation in the treated area. Most cases of hypo- or hyper-pigmentation occur in people with darker skin, or when the treated area has been exposed to sunlight before or after treatment. In some patients, hyperpigmentation occurs despite protection from the sun. This discoloration usually fades in three to six months, but in rare cases, mainly hypopigmentation, the change of pigment may last longer or be permanent. 

Scarring

There is a very small chance of scarring, such as enlarged hypertrophic scars. In very rare cases, abnormal, large, raised keloid scars may appear. To reduce the chance of scarring, it is important to carefully follow all post-treatment instructions and exclude patients that have a genetic tendency for scarring. Caution should be used when treating Port Wine Stains (PWS) in young children - scarring may occur if too much light energy is absorbed by the epidermis and per vascular dermis.

Excessive Swelling

Immediately after treatment, especially of the nose or the peri-orbital zone, the skin may swell temporarily. Swelling usually subsides within hours to as much as seven days. 

Fragile Skin

The skin at or near the treatment site may become fragile. If this happens, avoid makeup and do not rub the area, as this might tear the skin. 

Bruising

Very rarely, a blue-purple bruise (purpura) may appear on the treated area. It may last from five to fifteen days. As the bruise fades, there may be rustbrown discoloration of this skin, which fades in one to three months. 

Burns

There is a small chance of burns occurring on the skin. To reduce the possibility of burns from occurring, it is important to carefully follow all treatment instructions, and in particular to perform test patches. Always perform a test patch on the intended treatment area during the first treatment session.