Photorejuvenation / IPL: Part II

I wasn’t planning on another update on IPL until I had finished all 5 of my treatments but I think that my 3rd session warrants an update.
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Image source.

Long store short: my skin reacted BADLY to the 3rd session. 😦

Feature image source.

I went into the 3rd session thinking it would be a routine treatment like the previous 2 sessions – a little zap and then some redness, then smooth skin and maybe more flaking of spots. Boy, was I wrong! The 3rd session was the most painful one.  I guess I was visibly flinching when the esthetician zapped me with the wand because she asked if I was ok a few times. I said, yes, I’m fine, continue! Even though it stung really badly. The sensation was like someone poked me with a hot curling iron! She continued with the session, passing over my face a minimum of 3 times, going over my more troubled areas like my cheeks and temple. For some reason she also focused around my jawline and upper lip area (this is the same esthetician I’ve had all along).
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My face got zapped like this! 😮

I thought my face would be beet red but I looked in the mirror immediately after the session and it was just a slight blush. That evening, I already started to see a few of my freckles darkening – a sign that they will likely scab over and fall off.  I applied gentle skincare on my face that night (the Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream). The next morning, a couple of my spots were raised, like small blisters (but not filled with pus… sorry, that word is gross). Several areas of my face had red splotches, slightly raised areas that looked like hives. Overall, my face looked a bit tender – nothing that some concealer and foundation couldn’t mask.
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However, by that evening, my face took a turn for the worst. I had raised bumps and red welts covering about 30% of my face. They didn’t hurt, but they were itchy and sensitive to touch. At first I couldn’t tell if they were just allergic reactions or actual burns from the laser. I had read some horror stories about laser treatment burns. I honestly looked like I had bad patches of acne but without the whiteheads.  Luckily for me, the worst of the bumps were around my jawline and temple so I was able to hide them with my hair. However, I had a patch of reaction right above my lip that was impossible to hide – concealer can only do so much, it can’t hide skin texture! I had several people at work ask me what the heck happened with my face… some people just stared awkwardly at the bumps.  My SO thought I had permanently damaged my skin (and for a brief moment I worried that I had too!). And of course, wouldn’t you know it – that week I had to give a presentation in front of a lot of people! Ugh. 😥

I googled “skin allergic reaction” and this photo best represented how my skin looked (source).

I was hesitant to use anything strong on my face since I didn’t know what the reaction was, so I used my trusty Bioderma Cicabio Creme to help calm the redness and itching. On the 4th night, I used a clay-based mask (Consonant DHE mask) to help draw out any impurities. Finally, by day 5 my skin started to look more normal – the bumps reduced and redness faded. My non-medical conclusion is that I reacted to the heat of the laser – my skin is sensitive to heat and cold, and exposure to any extreme temperature causes my skin to break out in hives. I suspect the concentrated laser was on a setting that was too high for my skin and it wasn’t able to tolerate it.  One positive thing came out of this: a few of the most prominent freckle / dark spots I had flaked off and my skin is quite smooth now. 😐

So, will I continue with IPL? Yes, I will. I do not fault the esthetician – she did ask me if I was ok but I claimed I was fine. Here’s what I’ve learned: if something feels off, speak up! I guess some part of me associate pain with “it must be working”. I knew that the pain level was not the same as my previous sessions but, in my mind, stronger means better results, right? 😕 Well, we all have limits and now I’ve discovered mine.  I have my next session in early April and I’ll be sure to advise them of my experience and request that they revert back to the previous setting!

My skin is finally back to normal now!  Have you ever had a bad reaction to skin care or facial treatment?

66 thoughts on “Photorejuvenation / IPL: Part II

  1. Oh my gosh, that sounds scary! Thank goodness everything is OK, now. 🙂 And yeah, I get stress-related/sleep-deprived breakouts pretty commonly, so I know exactly how it feels to have bad skin on a day something big is going down. Ugh!

    You’re brave to continue, lol. It’ll be interesting to see how the next session goes.

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    1. Oh yes, lots of my friends who suffered from hormonal break outs during their pregnancy said it sucked… coupled with the fact they feel so uncomfortable!
      Fingers crossed for the next session… I will definitely speak up if is hurting!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had a terrible skin reaction from a facial before too. I had to see a dermatologist to clear it up. 😖 I still don’t know what really caused it. Needless to say , I’ve not gone back there!

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  2. oh gosh! just by reading what you’ve been through.. girl if I’m in your shoes I will never go back.. that’s scary! but glad you are OK now.. 🙂

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  3. Oh my gosh! So sorry to hear this happened to you 😦 It sounds awful, especially having to do a presentation that week and enduring stares. Any time I have issues with my skin, it makes me feel terrible for people who have long-term skin issues, and how they must feel self-conscious all the time 😦
    Glad everything’s good now, and fingers crossed for session #4. How long did it take your skin to go completely back to normal?

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    1. It took a full 7 days for my face to go back to normal!
      Just bad timing… gah. I was definitely thinking the same as you – about people who have long term or permanent skin issues like a large birthmark on their face. I guess they just endure the stares all their lives. 😦
      Next session I’ll for SURE speak up if it feels too strong and I’ll advise her of what happened last time.

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      1. Definitely! I wonder what happened during this session that made it different from the last two…did she use a higher setting, did she go over the same spots too many times, or has your skin become more sensitive after the last two sessions? I can see why you didn’t say anything even when it hurt, though…even though it might not be true, sometimes you think that if it hurts, then it’s doing the job!

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  4. I am doing IPL with the fractional laser next week. I’m worried now! I took 4 days off and then have a weekend before I’m back in the office. I hope that is long enough to hide any negative reaction I might get. 😳

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  5. I’ve just started esthetician school and I saw this post and couldn’t read it fast enough. I finished getting my laser certification about a month ago and just this week took my IPL and photofacial certification so anything I can learn about reactions makes me excited (not that I’m happy you were itchy and rashy but thank you for sharing!). I completely agree with you about speaking up! Lasers are really powerful and you’re pretty much getting a ridiculous amount of light being shot into your skin. Some IPLs require ultrasound gel to help with the cooling of the skin. Definitely let your esthetician know about that reaction you had. She might have recommendations or will definitely adjusting your cooling time when working on you next time.

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    1. She did use cooling gel but I think the setting was just too high this time around or maybe she went over my skin too many times targeting the same areas. It’s really good to your perspective on this! How do you like esthetician school? I’ve always had interest in that area. 🙂

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      1. I love love it! You should totally do it since it’s something you’re interested in. I know that with IPL treatments your skin usually will look crazy the next two days but then everything starts to clear up. I have sensitive skin too and sometimes I won’t have a reaction to my laser treatment but other times, I’m a rashy splotchy mess.

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  6. I had a terrible reaction to a laser hair removal session. The doctor burned me and I freaked out. I thought I would have scarring for life, but she had me come in every single day for a week to monitor the burns (they were small, but right on my upper lip). She also gave me this cell regenerator serum that greatly sped up the recovery time. So yeah – I was going to blog about laser hair removal but didn’t want to scare anyone off! LOL! I’m super happy with the results…no more beard or mustache! LOL!

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  7. Ouuchhhh:'( that sounds painful!!! I’m glad you’re better now 👍 darn our skin and it’s sensitivity!! I’ve had a similar reactions to certain body soaps. For some odd reason my face and body hate liquid body soaps, it prefers solid soap and it sucks cause I loooove certain scents of body soaps!:( I automatically get a reaction on my neck and parts of my body ughh 😦

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    1. That’s so weird about liquid vs solid soaps! I wonder what ingredient in the liquid soap is to blame? At least you found out the cause and you can avoid liquid soaps but yeah, what a pity you can’t enjoy the nice scents of the liquid soaps! 😦

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  8. I did my ipl because i had redness and mostly for my wedding i am happy with the result i dont look redish anymore but i have to take care a lot my face with spf all year round but it totally works litlle expensive though

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