Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Fotofacial for Sun Damage

I get to spend all year accumulating age spots doing fun things like driving with the top down or lounging by the pool because I know that in the fall I can zap ’em off with an IPL fotofacial treatment. 

Even after applying waterproof sunscreen several times a day AND wearing a UV protective sun hat , I still get dark spots on my face and chest!

IPL fotofacials offer forgiveness after a fiery summer season.

What is an IPL Fotofacial?

An IPL (Intensed Pulsed Light)  fotofacial, also referred to as fotofacial or photofacial rejuvenation (and even sometimes Photo Facial with two words), is a skin treatment using an intense-pulsed light (IPL) unit to even out your skin tone.

IPL fotofacials are ideal for removing age spots, freckles, melasma as well as minor rosacea and broken capillaries in the skin.

The Science Behind the IPL Fotofacial


The IPL hand-held device delivers bright blasts of broadband light into the melanin (brown skin like in freckles and age spots) and hemoglobin (the red blood cells in our blood vessels) of our skin causing damage that triggers our body’s natural healing process and those areas of your skin eventually flake off.

How it Goes Down

I get all sorts of crazy melasma when I even THINK about the sun. I will be treating my face, neck and chest.

fotofacial before montage profiles


Pre-IPL Fotofacial

Before you get an IPL fotofacial make sure of the following:

1. Be sure that you haven’t had any sun exposure for at least two weeks. The reason being is that the light beams attach to pigmentation, so if your skin is dark you risk – no, you WILL – remove the pigment from that area causing you to scar.

This being said, if you don’t have fair skin then this is not the best option for you. There are new machines, such as the Motus AX, developed for darker skin for laser hair removal but nothing as of yet for for a fotofacial.

2. Get a microdermabrasion prior to treatment. A microdermabrasion sloughs off the top layer of skin allowing the laser to go a little deeper.

Also, some of your more superficial pigmentation will go away with the microdermabrasion giving the laser fewer areas to focus on which gets you a better result.

Not all laser centers offer this service and if mine did not I would definitely take the time to get it done elsewhere.

I always like to recommend within the week before to make sure there’s less time to cause more damage and so that your skin will not have time to regenerate before the fotofacial (skin takes about 27 days to regenerate) .

My IPL Fotofacial Experience

I had my treatment with Glenn at Skin Aesthetica (because he ROCKS). He used the Lumenis Vasculite Elite Laser.

You can watch it here but I’ll break it down below too. Notice around my lips as you watch. It looks like I have lip liner on but all it is is hyperpigmentation!!! Yikes.

Breaking it down:

First, Glenn did a quick microdermabrasion to remove all the dead skin cells from the surface of my skin. I mean, why treat dead skin, right?

teeny heartDisclosure: Actually, before that Mr. BeautyBlackBook took me out for a couple shots of tequila (God’s natural pain reliever) Sorry, but I’ve got a low tolerance for pain.

Next, Glenn applied a topical numbing cream and gave it about 20 minutes or as long as it took for Mr. BeautyBlackBook to finish his microdermabrasion (boys take care of their skin too ya know!)

You may also be interested in reading What is Microdermabrasion (surely you jest?)

After my skin was numb he used the handpiece to zap the effected parts of my skin, which was my whole face, neck and chest. I barely felt it but I’ll tell ya, I was pretty liquored up! (not recommended for everyone)

Results of My IPL Fotofacial

Now, keep in mind that I had a LOT of dark areas on my face so don’t let these photos scare you! I call the actual day of the treatment Day 1.

Day 1 of IPL Fotofacial

fotofacial day 1 montage. facejpg

Day 2 IPL Fotofacial

Fotofacial Day 2

 Day 3 IPL Fotofacial

fotofacial day 3 front 1

fotofacial day 3 montage profile

Day 4 IPL Fotofacial

fotofacial day 4 face chest fotofacial day 4 montage profile

 Day 8 IPL Fotofacial

Fotofacial Day 8

Day 8 – Okay, this is getting old

Day 10 IPL Fotofacial

Fotofacial Day 10

Day 16 IPL Fotofacial

So here is a pic day 16, no makeup and never, ever any photoshopping (no cheating here!) and I still need to get a microdermabrasion to remove a lot of the dead skin cells, but you can totally tell the difference!

face after fotofacial

Left profile after fotofacial – no makeup!

face after photo facial

Right profile after fotofacial – no makeup!

fotofacial day 16 chest

Before and After IPL Fotofacial

fotofacial before montage profilesc

fotofacial before montage profiles

fotofacial before front chest foreheadCost of IPL Fotofacial Treatment

Costs vary depending on where you go but they almost all charge by the area being treated. The face should run about $199 – $250, neck $100 and chest $100. At the place I go, they normally throw in a microdermabrasion which I like to do before the treatment and then I buy an extra one for a couple of weeks after.

If you do have to pay for the microdermabrasion it will run you $65 – $85. The higher price being if you do it at a spa or someplace that usually jacks up the price.

Keep in mind that these treatments may run you more if you live in a city like NYC or Beverly Hills and of course it depends on the facility you do it.

I LOVE this treatment and will keep this in my regimen forever (until something better comes out of course!)