My Test Spot Results: IPL Treatment for Melasma {*Updated 5/10/11}

About 2 months ago I had a test spot of IPL (Intense Pulse Light or Fotofacial treatment ) done on my face to see if it would help my Melasma (facial spots caused by sun damage, hormones/birth control pills or pregnancy). I have been meaning to post an update with my results but have been so busy working double shifts at work lately - I've been unable to keep up with my blog as much as I'd like.  One reader, Tara, recently commented, asking for an update - so here it is.

The doc gave me a free, small sample spot treatment on my face near the temple. He told me that the spot would be scaly and sore the first night, then the spot would shed the skin (like a light scab coming off) and that it would be okay to wear makeup over it the next day. The spot reacted just as he said. It stung for about the first 24 hours and the surface skin peeled and flaked off - just like a sunburn would. Doc had said that in about 30 days, the spot would get lighter.

Well, after 30 days I went back to the Doc for a follow up. The spot had not really lightened in my opinion. The spot just seemed to change shade. It went from being a brownish color to now being a slightly paler reddish shade. It is still clearly visible on the skin. I can hide it with make up (Corrector, Concealer and Dermablend Foundation) but it is reddish and still there.

I voiced my concern to the doc that if they did large areas of my face to get rid of all the spots/discoloration, it would just turn to red spots and still be there or look worse. He was very adamant that he felt IPL would work for me - that I'd probably need 2 treatments and the 2nd treatment would lift the rest of the pigmentation substantially. He also insisted that this test spot would further lighten in the next month or so as long as I continue to use 100 SPF facial sunscreen (which I have been using). I told him I was reluctant to spend $500-$600 per full face treatment (x2 = almost $1200 that insurance won't cover) to risk having rose colored spots all over my face instead of brown. I was very skeptical. He continued to insist that it would work...but that if I was not ready to do it now in early spring, he recommends waiting till the fall. He doesn't recommend doing IPL in summer months, due to sun exposure. He said we'd do one full face treatment, let it heal a month and then do a 2nd one, and within 2 months of the 2nd treatment my facial skin would be significantly lighter, brighter, clearer and free of melasma. Hmmm.

Well, it has now been 2 months. I have been limiting exposure and using 100 SPF facial sunscreen and I have seen no further improvement or lightening. The Doc did not offer a 2nd treatment on the test spot to prove a point...and I am wishing now that he would have, just so I know for sure. The thought of going through all of this -- the pain of zapping most of my face with IPL, the redness and puffiness during the recovery time and going out in public like that -- and thinking it may be all in vain - if the spots just become red like rosacea or scarring - makes me think Hell No! But then part of me is so curious about the 2nd treatment - if the Doc is right, it would be worth it to say goodbye to the layers of expensive makeup and humiliation of Melasma.....

I have to take my little boy to this Doc to have him look at a facial scar - I'm going to ask him for a 2nd free spot treatment on the test spot...and see what happens...Stay Tuned....

*********** UPDATE*********
May 10, 2011:   Another month has gone by
, and this test spot still looks the same -- instead of the original light tan/brown - the spot is still visible, and reddish in color. I've even been putting some lightening cream on it, with the rest of my Melasma spots, and I've seen no change whatsoever
. I never have gone back to this doctor to investigate it further as he said I'd have to wait until fall to do anything. I am convinced I would need at LEAST 2 treatments (if not more) based upon the test spot results--but fear what if I paid for 2 or 3 treatments and was still left with red spots/scars on my face? Not sure. I need more evidence of results....I am still torn.

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