Laser Acne Treatment
WHAT IS ACNE?
Acne is a chronic disorder of the sebaceous gland follicles. Acne is very common -- nearly 17 million people in the US are affected by this condition. Acne most often begins in puberty, during which both boys and girls experience an increased production of certain male hormones (androgens, testosterone). These cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more oil (sebum). This sebum normally flows from the sebaceous glands via the sebaceous hair follicle to the skin surface. However, dried oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria can cover the hair follicles, blocking the oil coming from the sebaceous glands, and creating a clogged pore. When follicles become plugged, skin bacteria (called P.acnes) begin to grow inside the follicles, breaking down sebum into more irritating components which cause redness, swelling, tenderness, and inflammation. Acne may progress from non-inflamed blockages of the follicles called open and closed comedones (“blackheads” or “whiteheads”), to inflamed red bumps (papules), pus-filled pimples (pustules), or deeper inflammatory cysts and nodules with the potential for scarring and prolonged discoloration.
HOW IS ACNE TREATED?
The choice of treatment depends on the extent, severity, and type of acne present in any individual patient. Therapy can include various topical medications to kill bacteria and remove blocked pores and/or oral antibiotics or Accutane (a specialized prescription form of Vitamin A) for more inflammatory cases. Besides these prescriptions, we can remove blackheads and whiteheads in the office or inject soothing medication into painful red acne cysts to help them clear faster. In some cases light chemical peels with glycolic acid or salicylic acid can improve the discolorations, skin tone, texture, and visible pores present in acne. The newest therapy is the Smooth Beam Laser, which is FDA-approved for the treatment of acne. The laser beam targets the oil glands and the bacteria that create the acne lesions. Studies have shown that a series of 3-5 monthly laser treatments can lead to visible improvement that can last for as long as 6 months. The Smooth Beam laser may also soften the surface irregularities of acne scars and benign sebaceous hyperplasias. Your dermatologist can suggest the appropriate treatment options that would work best for you.