Do IPL Photofacials need any recovery time at all?

Assuming I'm having the IPL treatment today, can I go out and meet my friends right after or do I have to go straight home because my face is going to be bloody and swollen? I don't want to scare my kids either... Will people notice that I had a photofacial? How long is the downtime for IPL?


F, 34, New York

Tags:woman age 25-34 recovery swollen

IPL photofacial specialists say that you don't really need a long recovery time because it's not invasive; however, I had a lot of side effects and ended up needing more recovery time than the 24 hours they suggested. I had a pretty intense reaction to the light pulses and I had a lot of swelling and redness for about three and a half days. It was mostly concentrated on the areas where I had a lot of brown spots but that was still a decent amount of my face.

I had to use ice consistently during that period of time because of the swelling and I was really annoyed because I was supposed to go back to work on the third day. I wasn't ready to do so because my face hadn't gone back to normal so I had to schedule more time off for my post-treatment recovery.

I have heard that most people who get ipl can return to work the next day without any visible skin conditions, that just wasn't the case for me.

I had one done a few weeks ago and I was actually really surprised at how quickly my skin tone got back to normal. Some people will suffer from a lot of side effects, but that wasn't the case for me. When I left the procedure I was pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of my face was completely the same.

There were one or two areas where I had some serious sun damage that looked a little swollen but probably not something that a casual observer would notice. I think that how you react to intense pulsed light really just depends on your skin type. For optimal results, stay inside and avoid direct sun exposure for the first little while. If you're prone to easy bruising, swelling, or redness in general than you'll probably have some issues. I don't think that you're going to scare your kids though.

You’ll be glad to know that you shouldn’t have blood or swelling after your IPL Photofacial treatment, but you might not want to rush out to meet your friends right away. Everyone reacts differently to the procedure, so it’s a good idea not to schedule anything afterward. In my case, I had treatments for a broken blood vessel on my nose and for a large age spot on my cheek. The blood vessel was a little red after the IPL, but the age spot didn’t look too pretty the next day. It turned into a lesion, but after a couple of days, it healed. I didn’t want to make it worse, so I didn’t try to cover it up with makeup. That was the worst of it. The doctor told me it’s ok to use makeup gently to cover any redness, so that’s what I’d suggest for you.

Every cosmetic procedure that you have done is going to require some sort of downtime. From my perspective, the IPL photofacial process is one that you could say barely has any recovery time. After I had my first treatment done I was prepared to hunker down at home for a few days while any redness or swelling was taken care of.

I was surprised to look in the mirror and barely see any redness and no swelling at all. I felt fine to go about my everyday activities and ended up basically taking a mini-vacation with the time that I took off work. I didn't bother to take any time off of work for my next procedure because of how easy the recovery process was. As long as you continue to moisturize on a regular basis and stay out of the sun you are going to be fine. 

I had an IPL photofacial and I experienced tenderness and swelling for the first 48 hours after the treatment. My doctor warned me that I could have some initial scabbing on the treatment area but it was pretty minor. My results are amazing, and I highly recommend the procedure. I followed a gentle skin care regimen post-treatment which I think helped speed up my recovery time. But, I still would not recommend planning a special outing on the same night, as ipl treatment affects people differently. Check with your doctor before planning anything soon after but as long as you avoid sun exposure for the first day or two, you should be fine.