How long should the skin be red after a successful laser treatment?

I maybe one of the unfortunate ones, basically I am receiving laser treatment on my face, skin rejuvenation as they call it but I don't understand why the 4 week gap in between? I mean my face was only red for like an hour, is it cause they assume the person's face is going to be red and the skin needs time to heal? but I healed right away after 1 session of the laser I was red for an hour or 2. then I was ABSOUTELY FINE so why the hell this 4 week gap in between? my skin is not continuing to be red or blister or flake with pigmentation, so am I one of the unfortunate ones. perhaps the laser just isn't responding to my face could this be correct? I am assuming a successful laser treatment the skin is red for days upon days. and they assume this is going to be the case with every client, my skin healed right away so why the gap?

I am SO glad you asked about this laser treatment. You’re right of course! How does this even make sense?

I’ll explain. First, it sounds like you were getting a “photorejuvenation” treatment with an IPL (Intense Pulsed Light). This also goes by the names photofacial, BBL (broad band light) and other terms. This is not a “true” laser treatment (one wavelength), but instead a laser cousin. This is because there are “cut-off” filters on these devices which exclude all wavelengths below a certain one. Bottom Line: There are multiple wavelengths going into your skin at once.

Why the gap of 3-4 weeks between treatments?

This is because the wavelengths that go deeper into your skin need time to work. This collagen building and work on skin structures goes on where you can’t see it. It takes about 3-4 weeks for that to occur.  Could you make the interval shorter?  You could ….but you won’t have seen full results yet. Waiting the 3-4 weeks may save you time and money as you begin to really see the effect of the laser treatment.

Does the lack of redness or flaking pigment mean that the IPL isn’t working?

Not necessarily. It depends on your skin color and the amount of sun damage and/or flushing or blood vessels (telangectiasias) that you have. If your skin is pretty good, you really won’t see much on the surface, but you’ll get the collagen building and texture improvements anyway. If you have a lot of redness or brown spots, you might have a much more dramatic first treatment. As your skin improves, there is less on the surface for the IPL light to absorb into.  You’ll notice that treatments seem easier.

It’s also possible, that the dermatologist’s office or spa were using an under powered IPL or not setting the settings correctly for your skin. We see this a lot in our community. Patients come in and say that they had 3 to 5 treatments and didn’t see any results. This is almost always a problem in spas because the companies sell weaker IPL systems to them. Also, if the nurse or “tech” (basically someone with no medical degree) doesn’t set the settings correctly, nothing will happen.

How to get the most out of an IPL treatment:

  • Go to a physician’s office, and not a spa for this
  • Make sure you have a consult first so you know what to expect for YOUR skin and why
  • Go over the costs carefully.  Is this the most cost effective device/laser for your particular skin issues
  • Is the person running the laser someone with medical training like a doctor, RN, LPN, MA or a medical aesthetician.

Hope this helps,

Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself.
  • My medical office in Seattle has treated thousands of patients for 15+ years.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product, treatment or device.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes! I have handpicked some of what I consider to be the best skin care products, and offer them for sale on SkinTour's shop. This is based on my team and I's testing and research at our clinic. Many of the products are in my own regimen. What could be better than using skin care products a dermatologist uses?!