IPL Treatment

IPL | Photofacials San Francisco CA | Corte MaderaDamage caused by sun exposure, disease, and other conditions can lead to the appearance of redness, inflammation, pigmentation and other symptoms within certain areas of the skin. Although not usually of medical concern, these symptoms can affect a person's self-confidence because of their cosmetic effect on a person's appearance. Photofacials can improve the signs of sun damage, rosacea, and brown spots on the face, hands, and body. It has also been used to reduce the appearance of mild acne scars, dark circles around the eyes and fine lines around the eyes of mouth. We utilize the Lumenis M22 laser for our IPL/Photofacial treatments, which is the gold standard platform for cosmetic skin treatments.

What is a Photofacial?

Photofacials use concentrated pulses of light, or IPL, to improve the texture, tone and appearance of the skin in patients with sun damage, sunspots, rosacea, spider veins and other embarrassing or unsightly conditions. The pulses of light used during this treatment target pigmented areas of the skin and dissolve the affected cells to create a smoother and clearer complexion, treating several conditions simultaneously when needed. This treatment can be used effectively on the face, chest, neck, arms, back and legs, depending on the condition of each patient's skin and their individual goals for treatment.

IPL | Photofacials San Francisco CA | Corte Madera
<IPL | Photofacials San Francisco CA | Corte Madera

Individual results may vary on case by case basis*

Who Is a Good Candidate for an IPL Photofacial?

IPL photofacials are best for addressing pigmentation issues. So, if you have blotchy, sun-damaged skin with lots of freckles, IPL photofacials are great. They also shrink large pores, remove broken capillaries, and lessen fine lines and wrinkles. Rosacea also responds to IPL treatments. IPL photofacials are not effective for darker skin tones or deeply tanned skin, as the IPL wavelengths cannot differentiate between the age spots/pigmentation problems and the rest of the skin.

If you’re using Retin-A, doxycycline, or other medications, they will have to be stopped for one week prior to your photofacial.

Can a photofacial treat acne or acne scarring?

We use IPL photofacials to treat both active acne and acne scarring. The wide bandwidth of Intense Pulsed Light works to calms the irritation that is behind an acne breakout. The light energy temporarily reduces the production of oil in the sebaceous glands, which is the basis of acne development.

As for acne scarring, the IPL energy penetrates the epidermis and enters the dermis layer of the skin. There it triggers development of new collagen, which supports the skin, helping to smooth the skin texture and lessening problems such as large pores and mild acne scarring.

IPL Procedure

During the photofacial procedure, pulses of light are emitted into the skin. The light is absorbed by the pigment in sunspots and the blood in the visible vessels, and converted to heat. The heat dissolves the cells that create the pigment and shrinks the vessels. The photofacial handpiece is gently pressed into the skin of the targeted area to deliver painless pulses of light.

The patient may experience a sensation similar to a rubber band being snapped on the skin, although most patients report this sensation as being tolerable. A topical anesthetic gel may be applied prior to treatment in order to minimize potential discomfort. After the treatment, the topical anesthetic is removed with a warm cloth, and moisturizer is applied with sunscreen. If there is any mild swelling, a cold pack may be applied for five or ten minutes. Commonly, Dr. Evans will allow a patient to reapply foundation or concealer immediately after treatment.

Can IPL photofacials be combined with other procedures?

IPL photofacials don’t require recovery, although the patient does need to protect their skin from sun exposure. Because of that, photofacials can be combined with treatments such as dermal fillers or BOTOX. They shouldn’t be combined with surgical procedures or other light procedures, such as laser resurfacing.

How long does a Photofacial take?

Each treatment session takes about 20 to 45 minutes to perform, depending on the size and location of the targeted area. Usually four to six treatment sessions are recommended to produce optimal results.

What to Expect after IPL Photofacial

After the photofacial treatment, patients can return to work and other regular activities the same day with little to no side effects. The skin may appear slightly flushed and capillaries may appear more visible, but these changes are often unnoticeable to others. It is important for patients to protect their skin from sun exposure for the first few months after treatment to promote proper healing and long-term results.

Will my skin become sensitive after an IPL photofacial?

Your skin won’t feel sensitive. It may show some redness. This usually passes within a few hours, but it can linger for a day or two.

Your skin will be unprotected against sun exposure, however. You need to avoid sun exposure for several days, and then use plenty of sunscreen for at least two weeks moving forward. Protecting your skin with sunscreen down the road makes good sense anyway, as those pigmentation spots you just had treated didn’t develop on their own: they came from sun damage.

How long after my IPL photofacial can I put on makeup?

Applying makeup is fine immediately after your treatment. Makeup only covers the skin and is safe. It will conceal any redness in your skin after your session, and it will conceal your age spots as they darken before peeling away. You need to be somewhat cautious with your skin care application, as you don’t want to use any abrasive treatments or any type of exfoliators or Retin-A. Dr. Evans will discuss with you when you can return to those skin care treatments.


Most patients will experience a disappearance or significant reduction in skin irregularities after a series of treatment sessions spaced several weeks apart, although results depend on the type and severity of the condition being treated. Sun spots and other forms of sun damage tend to darken after treatment and then shed from the skin after one to two weeks. Patients with rosacea often notice a decrease in redness and a return to a more normal skin tone within a week after treatment. Those with spider veins may experience a full or partial fading of affected vessels after 10 to 14 days.

Dr. Evans will develop a customized treatment plan in order to achieve the desired results for each patient's individual condition.

Risks of IPL Treatment

Photofacials are considered safe and effective for most patients, with only a minor risk of bruising and redness, which usually fade on their own. When performed by an experienced physician, most patients can achieve their desired results with no complications.

Most patients seeking skin rejuvenation to restore a smoother, more youthful appearance, or to correct certain skin issues will be ideal candidates for photofacials. One possible contraindication for photofacial treatment is taking medication that increases photosensitivity. If the patient is using a topical or oral medicine that makes them more sensitive to light, this may not be the right form of treatment. Be sure to discuss the patient's medical history and any medications during a consultation with Dr. Evans.

Dr. Evans will discuss the details of treatment and address any concerns before scheduling this procedure.

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If you would like more information about IPL/Photofacials or to schedule an appointment, feel free to fill out our convenient contact form or call us directly at SF: (415) 202-1540 or CM: (415) 924-2055.

Individual results may vary on case by case basis*