Acne can be a very frustrating and embarrassing condition. It’s usually associated with teenagers, but it can actually occur at any time of life. It’s also famously difficult to get rid of in some cases, and some people spend a fortune on different treatments with varying results. If you suffer from acne and want to get rid of it, there are several options you can try that are more effective than creams and lotions. To understand more about acne and about your treatment options, keep reading.
What is Acne?
Acne is an inflammatory skin disorder that’s caused by oil build up under the skin. Glands under the skin produce an oily liquid that’s called sebum, and is designed to transport dead skin cells to the skin’s surface where they can be discarded. The glands are connected to the surface of the skin by hair follicles. When the follicles get blocked, the oil builds up under the skin and clumps together with the hair and the dead skin cells to form a plug. This plug then gets infected and swells and a pimple develops when it starts to break down.
Acne can come in many different forms including pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, nodules and cysts. They most commonly appear on the face, chest, back, shoulders, upper arms and neck. Both men and women can get acne anywhere, though men are more prone to getting acne on their back, called ‘bacne’. Wherever the acne occurs it can be very embarrassing and severely affect your self-confidence, which is why you need to look for treatments that can help.
About Acne Scars
Acne can also leave behind scars. This occurs when the acne penetrates below the skin’s surface and damages the tissue below. These can be just as unsightly as the original acne and even harder to eliminate. If you have acne scars, it’s important that you get rid of any active acne first. If you get the scars treated first, you will just have more acne outbreaks which lead to more scarring. So take care of the original condition before treating the scarring. The most common types of scars that occur as a result of acne are:
* Atrophic scars, which occur when there’s not enough collagen during the healing process. They literally look like a small depression in the skin and come in several different types.
* Hypertropic scars are most common on the shoulders and back and stand up above the skin’s surface. They occur when there’s too much collagen during the healing process.
* Keloid scars, which are discoloured, bumpy and raised scars that occur when your body tries to heal but creates too many cells.
Laser Treatment for Acne or Acne Scarring
If you have acne or acne scars, you need to have a thorough medical assessment to determine the cause and the extent of the problem. This will eliminate other conditions such as papulopustular rosacea, which is often mistaken for acne but is actually quite different. Only once this assessment is completed can an effective treatment plan be created.
One of the most effective ways to treat acne is by laser treatments. Studies have shown that the blue light wavelengths from the laser can reduce infection and decrease the size and appearance of acne. This will help to reduce or eliminate active acne wherever it appears. Most people who try this treatment option need 3 treatments with 2-4 weeks between them and it’s effective on all skin types.
Laser treatments are also extremely effective on acne scarring as they not only improve the skin texture and colour, but also increase the elasticity and tone of the skin. For these types of scars, ablative laser resurfacing is a superior laser procedure which has been proven to effectively treat such scars and provide consistent and significant functional improvement, as well as measurable cosmetic benefits. Ablative laser resurfacing treatments have a longer downtime than other laser treatments.
Before Your Treatment
Before you try laser treatment for active acne or for scars, make sure you follow these guidelines for a safe treatment and the best outcome possible:
* Always look for a clinic that has doctors on site who can adequately examine your case before a laser treatment is prescribed.
* Avoid the sun for 2 weeks before and after your laser treatments.
* Use SPF50 sun protection for at least a month after treatment.
* Don’t use fake tan for 2 weeks before your treatment.
* Let your doctor know if you have the Herpes Virus.
* Tell your doctor if you’re taking any medications, particularly those which can cause you to become sensitive to light such as doxycycline (prescribed for acne or malaria prevention), St Johns Wart, RoaccutaneTM, and Retinoic Acid topical creams.
Laser Treatment Side Effects
Laser acne treatments are in general quick and effective and, with some of the lasers at Taylor Clinic, you can return home or work immediately afterwards. The most common side effects are:
* Discomfort during the procedure, which varies per person and can be managed using different pain killing medications and measures.
* Mild redness, which can be managed using a cool pack or cooling gel.
* Crusting on the skin after the treatment, which takes 5-10 days to heal and usually doesn’t scar.
Although more serious side effects are rare, some people do experience the following issues after laser treatment:
* Pigmentation, which is more common in darker skin types or with sun exposure before or after treatment. This can fade over time.
* Scarring, which is extremely rare.
* Swelling, especially around the eyes. This usually fades in a few hours or days depending on the individual.
* Bruising, which is rare and fades with time.
* Burns, which shouldn’t occur if your doctor is appropriately qualified and experienced and performs test patches before the procedure.
So if you suffer from acne or have acne scars, talk to your doctor to see if laser treatments will work for you.
Acne treatments – Patient before & after examples:
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