I have freckles and have always liked them, but as I age, I’ve noticed that there’s a fine line between freckles and age spots.  So when I visited my dermatologist for a yearly skin check, I mentioned that some of my freckles had gotten darker.  After examining them for anything concerning, she recommended an IPL to get rid of those darker spots for a more even skin tone.

So what is an IPL? Also referred to as Photorejuvenation, it  stands for Intense Pulsed Light and the technology uses light energy to target pigmentation in your skin (i.e. freckles, redness, splotchy skin tone).  We spoke with Dr. Holly Gunn of Gunn Dermatology who notes “Photorejuvenation reverses sun damage by reducing brown spots and redness in the skin.  This is a no-downtime treatment and any area of the body can be treated to even out skin tone and improve skin texture.”

This is not a laser, but pulsated light.  IPL treats a wide range of issues including acne, broken blood vessels, brown spots, discolored skin, fine wrinkles, freckles, redness from rosacea, scars, and unwanted hair.


To Know Beforehand: You can’t go in the sun for 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after so you need to work that into scheduling your procedure.  The IPL will make your skin much more susceptible to getting burned if you are out in the sun.  Summer may not be the best time if you’ve got months in the sun ahead of you.

You can’t use any product like retinol or serums for one week after the procedure.  Just a mild soap and moisturizer.  You can wear makeup.

Expense: Between $350 - $450 per session with multiple sessions usually needed for a full effect. My dermatologist recommended 2 sessions.

During: The procedure only took about 15 minutes.  The technician puts protective seals on your eyes to protect them from the light.  The IPL itself was not pleasant but not too painful - sort of like being snapped by a small rubber band. The instrument is rubbed over sections of your face as the light pulses.  You won’t need to be numbed for an IPL like with other procedures like fraxel.

Immediately after: All of my freckles were much darker, but I noticed that more than others did. I was able to put on makeup right after to cover the darker spots and redness.

30 minutes after: My face was noticeably burning and red (on a pain scale of 1 to 10, a 4).  I started to think “what have I done??”  I put a bag of frozen vegetables on my face to soothe the burning and it helped. Doing that several times over the next 2 hours helped the burning and redness which subsided by that night.

Over the next week: My darkest freckles start to break up.  They almost looked peppery and then eventually faded or dusted off.  You are NOT supposed to try and scrub them off - let it happen naturally.  It took 1-2 weeks for them to dust off. I like my freckles so I didn’t want them all to come off or fade.  I would say 25% faded.  

2 weeks after: I noticed that my skin had a more even tone and almost had a dewy look. My pores looked smaller and my skin felt softer.  My dermatologist recommended doing 2 sessions to get a look I wanted.  But knowing that I can’t be in the sun for 1 month - I’ve scheduled my 2nd session for November.

Photos provided by Gunn Dermatology

Final Impression: Despite my initial skepticism and though it isn’t cheap, I’ll probably do this once a year to keep my skin tone more even and help keep the effects of sun exposure at bay.  

After finding that this procedure was a little more intensive than I originally thought, I would recommend only going to a board certified dermatologist who is trained and experienced with this type of treatment. I can only imagine there are some horror stories of people doing this with someone untrained and getting burned (literally)!

To discuss if an IPL might be right for you, contact Dr. Holly Gunn at Gunn Dermatology for a consultation. 32 Church Street, Mountain Brook, AL, 35213, 205-649-3366.