The newest technology to fight acne involves the use of lasers. Since October of 2002, different lasers have received FDA clearance for the treatment of Acne. It has the major benefit of not being a drug, so it is essentially side-effect free. While the older group of acne lasers targeted the sebaceous gland, newer lasers target the P. Acnus bacterium that often resides on the skin and contributes to inflamed acne breakouts.
We’re finding most patients would prefer to avoid Accutane, consequently there is a growing demand for laser acne therapy. With the combination of multiple laser modalities targeting different symptoms we’re seeing excellent results. Dr. Oliva believes that laser treatment is the future for treating acne”.
What causes acne?
The pores in your skin contain oil producing glands called sebaceous glands that release oil called sebum. This production of sebum is normal for the development of your skin. Acne occurs when your pores become ‘clogged’ with sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria that is normally present on your skin.
Often the walls of a clogged pore can become damaged. If this occurs the bacteria and dead skin cells work their way under live skin cells. This results in an infection that is evident by the development of pimples with redness. The deeper the clogged pore the worse the infection becomes often causing a cyst.
Why does acne usually start during puberty?
For your body to properly mature it needs to release certain chemical (hormones) at certain times in your life. These hormones often referred to as sex hormones (testosterone, androgen and DHEAS) often cause your sebaceous glands to enlarge, resulting in the over production of sebum. This process usually begins at puberty.
How do I know if I’m a candidate for laser acne treatments?
If you have acne you are a candidate for laser acne treatments. These treatments represent new technology in the fight against acne. If you’ve been using any photosensitive drugs (i.e. Accutane®) you may have to wait six months before obtaining laser acne treatments. Scheduling a consultation with Dr. Oliva should be your first course of action to determine how soon you may begin treatment.
How do laser acne treatments work?
There are several different lasers that may be used to treat acne, but generally they work in one of two ways:
- One way is for the laser to heat the sebaceous (oil) glands in your skin (without any effect on the outer layers of your skin) causing the sebaceous gland to shrink in size so that it produces less oil.
- Some acne is caused by bacteria that are normally on your skin. When these bacteria get trapped in hair follicles without oxygen it causes inflammation. The second way lasers work is to create oxygen within the trapped pore which destroys the bacteria causing the inflammation.
Are the treatments painful?
Most acne laser treatments are not painful although some produce minimum amounts of discomfort. In these cases a cream will be rubbed on the skin before treatment which minimizes the pain.
What will I look like immediately after the laser treatment?
Depending upon the laser treatment performed your skin will have no visible reaction, to mild redness immediately afterwards. Any redness usually subsides within an hour after treatment. If it is recommended that you have Levulan treatments (a topical placed on the skin which is then activated by a laser) you will notice a sunburned appearance that will likely last a couple of days followed by peeling.
What areas can be treated using laser acne treatments?
Acne usually appears on the face, neck, chest and back. Acne laser treatments work well on all these areas.
What results can I expect and how soon?
Results vary from patient to patient and depend upon what laser treatment is recommended. Usually results will be noticed after the second or third treatment. Depending upon the laser used results will be noticeable anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months after beginning treatments.
How long will laser acne treatments be effective?
The effectiveness varies from patient to patient but generally results are long lasting. In some cases patients will be required to undergo an occasional follow up treatment once or twice a year.
Is the treatment safe?
Yes, the treatment is very safe. These lasers are designed to control acne breakouts without damaging your skin.
How much does it cost?
The cost varies depending upon the lasers Dr. Oliva decides to use. Treatment costs can range from $75 per treatment to $400 per treatment. Most patients will be cleared with somewhere between 4-8 treatments. LaserMed Skin & Vein Clinic offers Care Credit Patient Payment Plans.
Are treatments covered by insurance?
Because this technology is new, many insurance companies have not yet defined procedure codes for reimbursement of these treatments. Most of the major insurance plans have not covered the laser treatments very well so far, but patients could use Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account for these treatments.