I was blown away by my own IPL before/after photos.
I know this may sound a little silly, but I was truly shocked by how much my skin had changed after just one treatment. There were so many things that distracted me during the healing process that I didn’t even notice what a difference it made for my skin!
First of all, I should probably start at the beginning and explain why I decided to invest in IPL treatment. I have extremely fair skin, and I’ve had rosacea my entire life. On top of that, I’m prone to get broken capillaries. All of this adds up to a lot of redness on my face, and it felt like a constant battle to contain it.
I had certain broken capillaries on my face made me feel self-conscious. After some research, I found that the only way to get rid of them was through IPL.
The idea of having to drop potentially hundreds of dollars put me off of trying IPL for years. The thing is, you don’t want to be doing a Groupon or searching for the cheapest deal when you get IPL. You want to find a reputable esthetician that you can trust to do the job well and that may mean paying a bit more.
I found a dermatologist near me that had good ratings online and scheduled an appointment for a general skin check. When I brought up the broken capillaries, she suggested IPL to treat them. Since I had been planning to eventually invest in the treatment anyway, I decided to schedule an appointment with their in-house esthetician. I was excited, but also a little nervous!
Pre-IPL Treatment Preparation
In preparation for my treatment, I made sure to avoid using any self-tanning products for 2 weeks leading up to the procedure. Additionally, I stopped using my retinol a full 2 weeks before the treatment. I laid aside my chemical exfoliating products a week before treatment as well so that my skin wouldn’t be irritated going into the treatment.
Getting Down to Business: The IPL Experience
I felt somewhat prepared for what the treatment might feel like since I had done a decent amount of laser hair removal in years past. Both treatments are described as feeling like rubber bands snapping against the skin.
To me, laser hair removal briefly gives your skin the feeling of having accidentally touched a hot pan. There’s a flash of heat, and then it’s gone.
IPL feels entirely different. Unfortunately, not in a good way. This stuff hurts, man. I wish I could tell you otherwise. But alas, this treatment feels like getting stung by a wasp on your face over and over again. And those areas around your mouth where you have a bunch of nerve endings? Prepare for some seriously stinging pain.
The esthetician offered me a stress ball to squeeze, but I elected to give it a go empty-handed. (I’d probably take the ball next time, honestly.) She covered my face one half at a time, with each half taking about 5 minutes. Though I had on goggles, I was still seeing bright flashes of light at times. To say that it was sensory overload would be an understatement. And yes, it does start to smell like something is burning at a certain point.
After my IPL treatment, I was sent out into the world with SPF on my face looking like a splotchy fright. I had envisioned a sort of overall pink sunburn look happening afterward, but that was not the case. The areas where my rosacea is in my cheeks were especially red. I had one spot on my left cheekbone that was red and almost raised, like a bruise. I went home, washed my face, and slapped on all of the soothing gels I had, plus more SPF.
After a couple of hours, the excess redness was almost entirely gone, though I did still have some swelling in that one spot on my cheekbone. I noticed that my sunspots had darkened considerably, which is normal with this procedure. It was fascinating to see it happening on my own face! The darkened areas flaked off about a week after the treatment, so I didn’t have them for long.
I did my best to avoid the sun for the following several weeks, and I applied SPF liberally. As directed, I continued to put off using retinol and chemical exfoliants for a week post-IPL as well.
One downside to staying away from my retinol and chemical exfoliators was that I developed some serious skin texture about a week post-treatment. I had a bunch of clogged up pores on my forehead, and as my period approached I had one of the worst breakouts around my mouth that had occurred in a while.
Thankfully the regular use of retinol and chemical exfoliators set my skin back on the right track in several days, and at that point, I decided to take some “after” shots to compare with my “before” photos. The overall change from just one treatment was amazing!
You can see in the left photo (taken right before the treatment) that I have quite a few sunspots on my left side. I’m not extremely flushed in this photo, but the redness underneath my cheekbone is where my rosacea manifests itself. I had broken capillaries around my cheekbone and temple area as well.
Then if you look at the photo on the right- wow! The redness around my nose and lower cheek is greatly reduced, a good portion of the sunspots are gone, the broken capillaries have disappeared, and my skin looks overall much brighter and smoother.
This angle shows the redness around my nose particularly well. In the before photo on the left, I almost look like I’ve just peeled a pore strip off my nose. On the right, that nose redness is almost entirely gone.
Is IPL Treatment Worth the Money?
After I saw the amazing results that I had after only one treatment, I will say decisively that yes, IPL treatments are 100% worth the money.
IPL can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 per treatment. My dermatologist normally charges $300, but I was able to get mine while the treatment was on sale for $200.
I should mention that it’s recommended that you get more than just one treatment. Three to five treatments, spaced around four weeks apart, will be most effective at treating rosacea. IPL is not a permanent fix, however. Even after getting the recommended amount of treatments, it’s still possible you’ll need more in the future. Once I’m able to, I plan on continuing my IPL treatments. It’s better to schedule them in the fall and winter because you’ll want to avoid strong sun after the treatments.
If you are considering getting an IPL treatment, just make sure that you thoroughly do your research beforehand. Visit your dermatologist and get their opinion!
I think that a smart investment in the future health of your skin is never wasted. IPL treatment is an easy way to see some real changes in your skin’s appearance. If it’s within your budget, I’d say go for it!
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I started IPL over 20 years ago when they used a small pen and afterwards those sports were a dark purple! I did notice a difference, but I could only spend so much money, so when I became a nurse I decided to try again. Unfortunately, with the current treatments, after two, I am still left with some redness and a dark spot to my left temple. I will, however give it another try.
Wow, that’s fascinating! I had no idea how those were done in the early days. That’s interesting that you had dark purple spots afterward. And yes, the treatments are very much so a significant investment! I’ve been putting off doing more for that reason XD I hope that you will see improvement with your next treatments!
Hey I was just googling to see if it was just me at how painful it all is. My experience was exactly the same, right down to the unusual breakouts on the forehead and either side of my mouth. And it definitely hurt more that a rubber band! I compare it to a cattle prod. It wasn’t as bad the second time as i knew what i was in for.
Good to see someone else with the same experience. ……………….. But yes i agree, it is worth it. You just have to remember the good times ahead whilst enduring it!
It’s good to hear that someone else out there can relate 😛 I’m hoping it won’t be so bad for me either once I finally get in to do it again! And it’s true, the results are well worth it I think! Thank you so much for reading!!
Hi I’ve had IPL (Limelight) twice recently. It hurts more than they let on! But I highly recommend having the numbing gel prior to treatment and they recommended some paracetamol in advance. They sent me on my way with ice packs to ice my face for a few hours after and suggested sleeping with my head propped up. I successfully avoided swelling thanks to these recommendations.
Hi! I agree, the numbing gel that they use really helps! Thank you for sharing those recommendations!☺️
Hi! Late to the party , but just read this. My esthetician only does my nose. Do I read correctly that yours also does the age spots ? Hmm…. Cuz I def have some she has never treated and would LOVE for her to do so!
Yes! This most recent time she did one type of laser for the spots and another type for the redness and broken vessels! I wish I could tell you the exact names of the laser types but I don’t recall her mentioning them, unfortunately.
Whoops, just realized I said laser when I meant different wavelengths of light!
I just got IPL for the first time yesterday, and much like your experience, it was worse than I expected. I too was given the rubber band description as the level of “discomfort”, which for me very much downplayed the level the pain I experienced. Moreover, no one told me about the blinding flash of light that would zap my eyes EVERY SINGLE TIME. For me that worse than the pain, maybe because I wasn’t prepared for that at all. Maybe it was so bad because I have light blue eyes with occasional photosensitivity? IDK. Luckily, I did accept the stress ball “just in case”, and trust me I squeezed the life out of it! I had an unfortunately complication of the ice pack freezing to my cheek while my other cheek was being treated. The Esthetician acted quickly, saying “we don’t want frost bite” and messaged my cheek with her fingers to bring the temperature back up. Oops! Overall, while the 30 minute experience itself was more stressful than anticipated (teetering on the brink of traumatic), I expected my skin to be very red afterwards, but it really wasn’t. Aside from my left cheek (that froze) which was red and felt very sensitive, my skin didn’t look like a lobster. Now, just 24 hours later, my face isn’t red at all and I am already starting to see some small spots turn darker brown. Your results look WONDERFUL, so I will bet thrilled if I see similar results. I imagine much like having a baby, I will forget the pain, and seeing good results (fingers crossed), will go back again for future treatments. 🙂
Oh goodness, I’m glad she noticed the ice pack in time! That first time really was bordering on traumatic, I agree. It ended up being exactly like that for me; I forgot about the pain of the first one and went back again this last year. Honestly, it seemed not quite as bad this second time around, and I continued to get great results with it! I hope you see some fantastic results this time around and that you can hopefully get in again for more in the future if you are feeling it! 😀