My freckles are a part of me. There was a brief time I hated them when I was in middle school, but we hate just about everything in middle school, don’t we? For the most part, I’ve embraced my freckle-face because it is what it is and frankly, I’ve felt like they make my face me for much of my life.

But what I haven’t embraced are the age spots that have been showing up as I get older. Damn age & sun damage. In particular, I have some ones near my eye that have been really bothering me as I get older. In recent years, I’ve taken to putting sunglasses on for photos or making sure the “other” side of me shows. So I was hard pressed to find a before photo but here’s one that points out the size of the age spot:

I wanted to find a way to minimize it or have it removed. A friend told me about IPL Photofacials, she had been having them done for awhile at a local spa where two friends had previously gone and had a good experience. It was going to be a way to help remove some of my age spots and even out my face.

A photofacial, or fotofacial, is a 30-minute procedure in which intense pulses of light are used to penetrate deep into the skin. IPL photorejuvenation then causes collagen and blood vessels below the epidermis to constrict, reducing redness and age lines.

I got a Groupon and went on over. The first time I went, I actually walked out without having it done because she told me I couldn’t be in the sun for 10 days after and I was about to go on a beach vacation just a day or two later.

I returned two weeks later, 10 days after I had been in the sun (with sunscreen).

The procedure itself hurt. I had read that it would hurt a little, but while I was having it done, I felt like maybe I was being a wimp because it REALLY hurt. I toughed it out. It felt as though someone was whipping me on the face.

Here is my face on Day 1 – the first few hours after having the IPL done, April 26:

And here is my face a day or two later. The angry redness went down but I still had red marks and all of my freckles went really dark (which is also within the realm of normal)?

And then, one week post-treatment. You can see that things scabbed up:

Sadly, here is how my face healed up once everything peeled off. I ended up with these white stripes about two weeks after the treatment. I was SO UPSET. Basically the IPL worked in the spots it treated (those white ones shown) and striped out all the pigment in my face so I was left with freckles in some places and completely white skin in others.

The good news is that this isn’t white scarring – it’s just literally places on my face that no longer have freckles but it’s of course very strange looking.

As I didn’t want to go back to the place I originally went, I went to my dermatologist, which is where I should have started in the first place. She was quite shocked at my face and along with a beautician who works out of their office, they have assured me that they can fix my face but that it’s going to take months.

I’m trying not to be too upset about it.It’s strictly cosmetic and I’m healthy, and my family is healthy, so that’s what counts. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s hard to look in the mirror sometimes. It doesn’t help when random acquaintances (and even strangers, if you can believe it or not!) ask what has happened to my face.

Two weeks ago I started with a peel at my dermatologist. The peel was meant to take another layer of skin off and hopefully make things more even. It helped a little — but not a ton.

I’ll apparently need a few of these going forward which is going to cost me upwards of $1k by the time I’m all said and done.

This picture below was me over Memorial Day weekend. I have to be a crazy woman with the sun now. I always wore sunblock but I’m now loaded up with sunblock, a hat and an umbrella and/or shade where I can.

And so you guys can see where I’m currently at, I took this photo at my desk yesterday with very little make-up on. (I have a very tint bit of tinted moisturizer and eyeshadow.) It’s obviously still very clear I have something up with my face. Friends who see me regularly assure me that it’s getting better but I’m not so sure that they aren’t just saying that to make me feel better. Still, I’m going to try and be patient and give the dermatologist some time to get my face back to normal.

I waited awhile to share this but I felt I finally should because I wanted to share my experience with you guys so I can hopefully help prevent this from happening to someone else. I had never really heard of IPL until I had a few friends do it and because they had decent experiences, I went for it. I didn’t ask a doctor or test out a part of my skin which was all really asinine of me when I look back and consider that I did it.


  1. Jen gibson says

    You are beautiful inside and out!

    ❤️ Jen

    *Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. Ditto what Jen says.

  3. Stefanie s says

    I’m proud of you for sharing this!!! And u look awesome in that hat! And I can’t wait to see u this weekend. Xoxo

  4. Oh my! I’m so sorry! Once you get things settled out let’s chat R+F face care. We have great products that can help going forward. Hang in there you’re a beautiful momma!

    • Thanks Jen! I have a R&F rep and think I actually will be trying some Reverse soon… I figure it can’t hurt and I’m hopeful it will help even things out. Once I’m done with another treatment or two with my derma, that’s the plan anyway….

  5. So sorry Whit! Glad you shared your story to warn all of us and the good news is you are healthy – in time this will improve too thanks to a great Dermatologist. xoxo

    • Thanks Col! I just wanted to spread the word so anyone else considering it would at least do their research first – or at least do a skin test first before going full face like I did! Hope to see you soon! xo

  6. Jennifer says

    I had really bad sun damage on and around my cheeks. Went to my dermatologist and she suggested at least 3 IPL treatments totalling $1200 and using their in house esthetician. The first two treatments were mild but the last one was a doozy. She decided to turn it up to get better results. My left eye watered and twitched for weeks. And at night my face stuck to my pillow. My skin was fried. I went back to dermatologist and she said it looked better then it was before. But I could tell she knew it was way worse. She prescribed some lightening cream that didnt work. My skin was not and I s not better. I now have huge brown scars that are very hard to cover up. I cant go anywhere without a ton of make up. I also have small areas around my jaw line that are extremely lighter then the rest of my skin tone. I wish I had never done the IPL.

  7. I dont understand why you didnt finish treatments with ipl? Do you like to have striped face?

  8. Just saw your story on the TODAY Show! Id love to know where you went, since I also love in the Philly area, and Im covered in freckles and age spots, and was planning on getting something done in the fall. Im wondering though, couldnt the dermatologist use a laser (instead of IPL) to even out all of your face at once? Thank you so much for sharing this info! Its going to help a lot of people.

    • Hi Kathleen, thanks for commenting! I’m not sure what my dermatologist could have done, I only saw her after. She used a laser to treat just my age spots and then did a series of treatments to try and even things out. All I can say is make sure you see a dermatologist!

  9. I too had burns from IPL, a technician who claimed to have years experience and even taught others the technique. My dermatologist now says she doesnt know if the color will ever return. Its quite devastating and everyone should be made aware of the risks of burns from lasers if not administered properly and the permanent damage that can result looking far worse than any prior freckles we may have had. I now have multiple hypopigmented areas down both arms in the shape of the laser heads much like your face.

  10. Did the stripe finally go away? If so how long did it take?

    • Sarah, so sorry to be responding so late! I still have very slight stripes – everyone says they can’t see them by I can. I’m fine with makeup on though and would say I was 90% improved 6 months after the treatment.

  11. Lisa Poveromo says

    I just had IPL done on my face last weekend and I agree with you, it HURTS. It feels like someone is shooting blazing hot BB’s in to your skin. I was horrified of what I looked like after the procedure. But it will be a week tomorrow and things are looking pretty good today.

  12. Have the peels helped? I too had ipl and brown and white patches, i hear bbl is better. So depressing

  13. Simon Ashkar says

    OK. I have worked with IPL in my salon for many years (Palomar Starlux and also another custom-made machine coupling IPL with Radio frequency) We only perform full-face treatments when there is no underlying tanning (eg 4-6 months out of the sun), ideally, do it at the end of Winter. Your technician could have lowered the setting which would enable overlapping with each passing of the handpiece without burning the skin. Because she didn’t do that, it had given you the stripes. if you had gone back and fire-off the dark patches, then you would naturally get rid of the stripes. This is perfectly safe because the IPL won’t have any effect on the lightened skin area, so it would only take off the dark area ( providing you don’t go out to the sun during the remaining course of the treamtments). As far as I can see, the IPL machine has done an excellent job, it gave the desirable outcome and your skin was all intact. The fault was at the hands of your technician.

  14. Thank you for this. I had ipl in my Groupon cart, about to check out, then decided to look up before and afters and your story came up. Quickly deleted it from my cart. You just might have saved me from going through the same thing!

  15. I’m looking exactly like you looked after your laser procedure. The doctor burned my face. It’s all brown now. I am so mad and don’t know what to do. Have you worn any acid on your skin? Please, help me.

    • Hey Gabriela, sorry I never saw this. Is your face better? Mine recovered about 90%. Never completely 100% but enough that no one really notices except me or my husband if I point it out and am not wearing makeup.

  16. I just got IPL Laser and I wish I would have known what the consequences could be.
    My face has purple lines and I am afraid they are going to blister.

  17. Hello, Do you know what setting the laser was on? I am thinking about getting this treatment at a prominent dermatologist office in my state and I am curious if this was because the settings were too high. Would you recommend the laser if the doctor’s office was more versed on the treatment?

  18. I just had a Mixto laser treatment done on my face 3 days ago. I am striped like a tiger all over my face. I dont have freckles but am very concerned about having lighter and darker stripes permanently. I just ran across your situation and now I am even more concerned.

  19. Hi lovely, I own a salon in Australia and do IPL treatments. Im so sorry this happened to you, it looks like the machine was on the wrong setting (too high for your skin) plus they havent positioned the piece in a way that it gets all the pigmented areas which has left you with the clear skin and the pigmented skin (lines). Did they use ultrasound jelly on your skin when doing the treatment? They should have offered you free treatments on a lower setting to even out those pigmented. You can have IPL on a lighter setting to target the darker patches and even out the skin and even a Dermalux LED treatment will help. Youre gorgeous hun, sorry for the bad experience. Xx

    • Shelly Patch says

      I just got home from my second IPL treatment about an hour ago the first one went just fine. I was a little pink afterwards for a couple of days and everything started looking better. Tonight. I am horrified! I have very light skin and was getting IPL done to get rid of broken vessels and redness. Now, my face is literally covered in dark DARK purple bruises or burns? It is soo Bad! I am FREAKING OUT! Both cheeks and some spots on my chin oh and the lovely rectangle smack dab in the middle of my forehead all clearly showing marks from the laser. I was bawling in the office! All they told me to do was put cool cloths and hydrocortisone cream on it.
      I do not know what to do! The doctor and office manager came and looked at it and said I will be fine. OH I did use a numbing cream I bought for when you get tattoos.. then she put their numbing cream on it as well. The office mgr said maybe it was caused by the cream I used? I dont know what to do! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
      Thank you kindly,

  20. I had photo facial two months ago and now I left with burn marks on my forehead like lines and I have even more pigmentation on my cheeks and I have to wear tons of makeup to cover it and Doc recommends me doing micro needling and spending other $600 instead of offering me free service to make my face look better,so disappointed


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