Will Photofacials Help with Sun Damage?

The Derm Group

Summer may not be upon us yet, but your skin might still show signs of last year’s sun-drenched plans. Whether you kept cool on the shore or spent a few weeks getting that bronzy glow in the Hamptons, we hate to break it to you, but it all stayed with you long after the leaves turned brown. Maybe you have a few dark splotches or a cascade of new freckles along your cheeks, but unless you subscribe to the recent fake freckles trend, what you have are the tell-tale signs of a season in the sun.

These kinds of pigmentation variances on your face and body will only get darker with time, particularly if you aren’t covering up or applying SPF on the regular. And they aren’t easily treated with topical solutions. If you are looking to minimize the appearance of these dark spots, IPL might be the way to go.

IPL for Pigmentation

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) also goes by the names photofacial and photorejuvenation. It’s not something you can undergo at home; a dermatologist can perform these treatments for you. IPL uses quick flashes of light that penetrate below the skin’s surface, breaking down the brown pigment (melanin) into tiny particles. These particles either rise to the surface, scab, and slough away in about a week, or get washed out through the body’s lymphatic system. Either way, it’s getting the job done. IPL also works wonders on large pores, rosacea, wrinkles, mild to moderate acne, and dilated capillaries.

Now, don’t confuse IPL with a laser treatment. IPL uses multiple wavelengths of light without causing deep resurfacing. During the brief procedure—about 20 minutes for the face alone—you’ll feel a series of quick snaps. Some are more sensitive to it than others. You got this.

What Do I Need to Know Before My First IPL Treatment?

Before you even book your first appointment, stop tanning or applying fake tanner. The machine targets darker pigment. Also, if you are using Retin-A, take at least a week or two off beforehand. You’ll want to avoid any unnecessary skin sensitivity.

What’s the Downtime After a Photofacial?

You might have some redness and light scabbing afterwards, but that’s about it. Ok, so it might not look cute for a few days but the results are worth it and the downtime is nearly zilch. After your treatment, slather on the sunscreen… and then keep doing that forever. You can put back on your makeup right after. No waiting required.

Let’s Talk About IPL Results

For some, particularly those with lighter complexion, you’ll see results after the first treatment. Most derms will recommend a few sessions to get your best results—typically three to five sessions. Spots will lighten or disappear. You’ll see a difference. For maintenance, plan to do it all over again in a year or so.

Those with naturally dark or tan skin should consult with a doctor or dermatologist for any risk of pigmentation changes. If you aren’t sure whether IPL is right for you, ask The Derm Group in your area.