Is IPL effective for treating melasma?

Someone told me that chemical peels work better than IPL for melasma but I've seen a few IPL before and afters that had impressive results. I have brown patches on my cheeks and forehead that I'd like to fade. The discoloration is quite symmetrical, but it still bothers me a lot. I spend a lot of time in the morning trying to cover it with makeup and concealer. Should I better go for a chemical peel instead? What do you think?


F, 40, North Dakota

Tags:woman age 35-44 discoloration results fade makeup effective melasma

I was told by a variety of different people that the IPL photofacial process would be a really good melasma treatment. I had been looking for something for my adult daughter for a period of time because she's really unhappy with her pigmented skin and the number of brown spots on her face. So I was excited when I found this procedure.

I took my daughter in, asked a lot of questions about treatment options, and did a bunch of research on my own before deciding to move forward with IPL. I was honestly very disappointed with the results. I paid for my daughter to go in three times with the intention of paying for more treatments if they were good. There was no change in the brown spots on her face or any other skin conditions, but there was a lot of pain associated with it.

I would encourage you to save your money find a more effective treatment. If you're really sensitive to pain you're probably better off just adding kojic acid or azelaic acid to your skin care routine as they're probably just as effective as IPL turned out to be.

IPL photofacials are relatively effective for treating a majority of different skin conditions, depending on your skin type of course. I'm not sure specifically about melasma but I would assume that you would be able to get treated for that with IPL. I know that it worked wonders on my rosacea and also for some of the bad sun-spots and skin pigmentation that I had on my forehead and upper lip. It's not as good on darker skin types though (that's where a lot of the IPL horror stories come from), so if that's you I'd say get laser treatment or light therapy instead.

Also, I can tell you from personal experience that the IPL feels much better than a chemical peel. I was in a lot of pain after I had a chemical peel and it didn't give me the results that I wanted in the first place. I was really happy that I gave IPL a try because it made me much happier and didn't come with as many painful side effects.

I have melasma and I spoke with my doctor about possibly having an IPL photofacial done. After some discussion, we decided that I would go for a chemical peel first to see how that works for my skin and then in 4 weeks follow up with an IPL treatment.

The chemical peel itself was horrific and I never want to go through that process again but I did see really good results. There was a lot of improvement in my skin pigmentation and I'm excited to go into the next process to see if the fading is even better. I also know that the IPL treatment is significantly less painful and has a lower recovery time than a chemical peel.

I'll try to come back and follow up with you after I've had my photofacial done and see what the long term results are like.