I’ve decided I want clear skin. Actually, I decided this last fall because it was exactly this time last year I went freaking nuts and decided to get my face lasered (I googled this and it does come up as an actual word, but there is also the possibility it isn’t a word at all, hopefully you guys get my point) I have always struggled with eczema and discoloration and severe dryness and it’s really annoying. Plus, having turned 29 a couple of times now I’ve noticed my skin isn’t as amazing as it used to be, and by “used to be” I mean like when I was a baby.
So, I googled what I could do about it and like any irrational and OCD person I wanted immediate results and not any creams or ointments that would take twelve weeks.
What I found to be a quick solution was called IPL (Intense Pulsed Light treatments). I also couldn’t find any real reviews or advice on this procedure so I told myself I’d make a video and a blog post on it and then alas time passed and, well to be honest I just forgot. So to make it up to any ladies wondering about IPL for spot treatment of minor sunspots on your face here is my honest opinion.
IPL is a great solution for the treatment of sun spots, as long as you are an appropriate candidate for the procedure. I called my local facial plastic surgery center, (http://www.facial-plasticsurgery.com/) they have a department dedicated to laser treatments and I scheduled a free consultation.
*yikes, my lashes look awful. and these quick before pix were taken in the bathroom right prior to my appointment.
I went to the free consultation totally terrified. The nurse was awesome. She did tell me to never never never go to any places that are not in a doctor’s office because they are not required to keep their lasers calibrated to specific standards and therefore could easily burn off your face essentially. Not the nurses exact words but that’s how I interpreted it. Thank goodness I didn’t go for the groupon on this one!
During the consultation I filled out a skin color questionnaire, basically patients with light to medium-dark complexions are candidates. Now this was where I failed as a patient. The nurse said as long as I had not been in the sun for approximately ten days prior then I should be fine to get the treatment. Do not, under any circumstances get IPL treatments if you have a tan. Now, in reality my last “sun bathing” was mid August and I went sometime in September for the consult but, I still had a fair amount of tan on my skin. You guys will see that in a minute. My place charged $100 for every 15 minutes, which doesn’t sound like a lot but rest assured those will be the longest 15 minutes of your life. If you have really dark sunspots it may take a couple treatments to get them all vaporized or whatever the laser actually does to them. Anyway, since I was approved as an appropriate candidate she let me get treatment right then and there.
First let me say she gave me a stress ball to squeeze. I was like oh my damn, not a good sign. Then she went over all the bad stuff that could happen. Then she went over expectations, it was out patient with no down time so I was heading right into work after.
Hahahaha. Crazy fool.
She said I would experience a pop and hear a loud noise, many people described it like snapping a rubber band on their skin. The she turned on some fans in the room. She said she would move from one side of my face to the other side and if I “needed a break” to just let her know.
What. The. Fudge?!
That shit hurt so bad after the first pop I was like NO Ma’am. I am just going to walk right the hell out of here. I ended up just squeezing the shit out of that little ball and suffering through. She did the sides of my jaw and across the bridge of my nose and a few specific spots on my forehead. Now ladies, IPL is not an appropriate treatment for melasma, also known as maternity mask. Melasma is a deeper type of hyperpigmentation that can be worsened by the heat of an IPL, just like it is worsened by sun exposure so make sure you know what you got going on with your face before you agree to be zapped.
The pops of the laser were direct and specific. The nurse would aim and fire. It felt like someone was putting a match out on my face. I’ve never had that exact experience before but that’s what I imagined it would feel (and smell) like. Yes, there was a very unpleasant aroma of burning skin.
After my 15 minutes of torture the nurse spread some creams all over my face and told me to expect a hot sensation and to take some ibuprofen for the pain and use Neosporin for any scabs or wounds. She said the spots would darken and potentially scab then flake off. Oh, how nice. And then I went to work like an idiot.
Driving to work my face literally felt like it was on fire. Like a sunburn on crack. It was tight and so hot it made me feel almost dizzy. Then my head started pounding so bad. I think it had a lot to do with nerves and adrenaline from the whole experience. Eventually b that night my face was cool and I felt fine.
*this is me at work seriously regretting my decisions.
*me feeling depressed because I probably ruined my life.
Over the next few days the sunspots scabbed as expected and easily flaked off the bridge of my nose and under my eyes. The sides of my face were another story. I thought maybe she burned me and I read all these horror stories online about severe laser burns and it resembled the marks on my cheeks also, but my nose turned out so beautifully that it didn’t make sense for me to have gotten burned only on those areas within the same session. Then it dawned on me that I must have had residual tan along the outside of my face. My nose and the skin under my eyes was lighter, therefor having a more significant contrast in the skin and the sun spot. The reason IPL is not a treatment for darker skinned patients is because the contrast between the skin pigment and the treatment area are too similar. Now that is in no way a technical explanation or probably even an accurate one but the point is, my skin was too tan and the entire area got zapped versus the spots where the sunspots really stood out against my light skin and my skin ended up being totally fine and just the spots got zapped. So technical, so official, it really doesn’t matter that what really freaking happened.
*went through lots of concealer.
After the scabs flaked I was left with new baby skin. Ironically I had an appointment at the dermatologist and I was pretty freaked out so I asked her if I ruined my face. Luckily she said it was baby skin and it would even out over a bit more time and that IPL was a safe treatment process for your skin.
All in all, I took a ton of abuse from friends and family totally ripping on me (ahem, C) but that’s expected. And honestly it turned out wonderful a few months later. I would absolutely do it again but in January or February when my skin was really tan free. I wouldn’t want polka dots again any time soon.
I have been using just bebe cream and no heavy foundations. Yes!
So what do you guys think? Has anyone ever had this procedure done before? Any other IPL procedures? Leave a comment/question below!! Thanks!