Nobody wants to deal with acne, but practically everyone has suffered from it at some point in their lives. If you’re dealing with acne and conventional treatment isn’t doing enough, laser therapy might be the answer to your problems.
We all know what acne is, but exploring the specific causes of acne and its differing symptoms is important. Acne occurs when pores in the skin are clogged or blocked by overactive sebaceous (oil) glands. Oil and skin cells can quickly build up within your pores, quickly producing whiteheads and blackheads. In some people, acne can be more severe and pores can become inflamed and infected. These lesions are unsightly, sometimes painful, and can cause scarring.
Acne can affect anyone over the course of their lives, but the most common times are puberty and other hormonal events (such as pregnancy). There are some basic steps you can take to prevent acne, even in these difficult times. Gently wash your face with non-drying cleanser twice a day, but note that average external dirt and oils are not to blame for most acne breakouts. Always wear sunscreen or apply makeup containing sunscreen, as sun damage and sweat can cause your pores to become blocked. When using makeup, ensure that the products you use are noncomedogenic, meaning they’re designed to not clog your pores.
Though it may seem like it would alleviate your symptoms, the last thing you should do is pop your pimples! Oily fingers can actually clog more pores. Open skin can also become infected, requiring further treatment and creating long-lasting scars.
Laser therapy uses intense concentrations of light to accurately target and treat acne cysts, whiteheads, blackheads, or nodules. There are a number of different laser light therapies that your dermatologist might recommend, but each one is based on a similar concept. Intense light can destroy pimples safely, allowing the skin to heal naturally. Light from lasers also works to kill bacteria on the skin that can cause acne.
Usually, laser therapy is offered in addition to a more common acne treatment like prescription medication or retinoid creams. If your acne is stubborn even with these treatments, you should consider discussing laser therapy with your dermatologist.
Some laser therapy treatments require preparation and recovery, but are still fairly quick and easy to do. For example, before performing your laser therapy treatment, your dermatologist may apply ointment to your skin to make it more sensitive to light. This solution is referred to as a photosensitizer. Increased sensitivity makes the process work more efficiently and may help the effects of treatment penetrate deeper and last longer. Generally speaking, you will need to undergo several sessions of laser therapy to yield better results.
Another form of laser therapy called photopneumatic therapy uses intense pulsed light (IPL) and a vacuum tool to damage acne and remove oils from the skin in a sterile environment. This method of treatment works two-fold to target and remove active acne while preventing infection and encouraging healthy skin to grow in its place. This method works well for treating blackheads and whiteheads, but is not recommended for cysts or nodule type acne.
You may hear laser therapy called blue or red light therapy. Different colored lights have different intensities, which can be alternated or combined to treat acne of all kinds, from small blackheads to the more intense cysts and nodules of severe acne. Non-visible light, like infrared light, are used to treat pimples, most often on the back and shoulders.
Laser therapy is a very safe treatment for acne, but there are some possible side effects. You may notice redness, skin peeling, and crusting following laser therapy treatment. This is perfectly normal and means that the laser did its job. Once the redness and old dead skin clears away, cleaner and healthier skin appears in its place. Since the laser is technically burning acne (on a very minute level), some pain and discomfort both during and after treatment is possible, but it’s not common or severe.
Laser therapy for acne is an ever-growing science, and treatments are only improving. Right now, laser therapy is not effective at treating acne without supplementation from other acne treatments. That might soon change. As technology improves, laser therapy will become more and more effective at treating acne. If you’ve had acne in the past, laser therapy can also treat your acne scars very effectively. It works the same way it does to treat acne: by targeting scars and encouraging healthy collagen production and skin growth.
If acne has you down for the count, fight back with laser therapy in conjunction with your current acne treatment. Visit your New England dermatologist and get help with your acne today!