Health - Treatments
By: - at May 26, 2013

Treating Acne with Laser Therapy: Can it Benefit You?

Laser or Light Therapy can be Used to Treat Acne
acne laser therapyToday, acne sufferers can resolve their skin condition by choosing between a number of light or laser therapies. To better understand how laser therapy can help, itís important to know how acne develops in the first place.

A Common Skin Condition
Acne is indeed a common problem as it most frequently affects young people between 12 and 30 years old. In fact, approximately 30% of the people who see a dermatologist do so because they have acne. An acne condition occurs when Propionibacterium acne or P. acne is produced via the sebum or oil in the sebaceous glands.

How Whiteheads and Blackheads are Produced
In turn then, an overproduction of sebum or oil in the sebaceous glands causes the skin to become clogged with oil, dirt, and P. acne. As a result, acne develops and takes the form of a comedo. A comedo is simply a clogged pore in the skin.

Close-up of a Common Comedo Referred to as Blackheads:
Close-up of a Common Comedo Referred to as Blackheads:

A comedo may appear at first as a whitehead, denoting a whitish cast, and later turn into a blackhead, taking on, of course, a darker coloration. Mild inflammatory acne reveals itself as small pimples, either on the face or back.

Antibiotic Medications Used to Treat the P. acne Bacteria

Tetracycline and Erythromycin: Frequently Prescribed Medicines
TetracyclineA number of antibiotics are currently used to get rid of P. acne. The most often prescribed remedy is tetracycline. Taken twice daily before meals, the antibiotic cannot be fully absorbed unless consumed on an empty stomach. The acne fighter is not recommended for patients under 13 years old nor is it advised for pregnant women. Side effects can include diarrhea or digestive upset.

Another antibiotic treatment that is often used to get rid of acne is erythromycin. The main side effect experienced by users is dizziness. Therefore, the antibiotic is frequently recommended for patients who canít take tetracycline.

Doxycycline may also be prescribed. For patients who cannot take either tetracycline or erythromycin, doxycycline is a viable alternative. Unlike tetracycline though, you need to take this medicine when you eat. Otherwise, you may experience a bad case of nausea or subsequently vomiting after taking the medication on an empty stomach.

Because of the side effects associated with the aforementioned antibiotics, many acne sufferers prefer to choose another method for treating their acne.

When an Acne Condition Worsens
If either a whitehead or blackhead erupts, then pustules (elevated pus-filled skin elevations) can develop or papules (small red bumps) may appear. In some cases, cysts may form as well. Characterized as a puss-filled pocket just beneath the skin, an acne-type cyst results just like a comedo, when pores become overly clogged. This type of cyst, known as a sebaceous cyst, can be removed by an innovative technique that makes use of a laser with a follow-up excision of the lesion.

Fibrous Papule of the Nose:
Fibrous Papule of the Nose:
By Kuebi via Wikimedia Commons

This two-step technique then involves making a small hole with a laser to remove the content of the cyst. After about a month, a minimal excision is made to remove the cystís wall. By using this method, only a small scar is produced. Therefore, laser therapy with follow-up excision is a preferred technique for getting rid of large, uninfected sebaceous cysts.

Why Acne and Pimples Can be Treated with Light
acne light therapyCommon acne, in the form of blackheads or whiteheads, is usually the type of acne that benefits the most from laser treatment. Laser or light therapy can be an effective treatment as acne is a skin condition that is frequently brought on by genetics or hormones. Despite what some people may believe, acne generally does not occur as the result of oneís diet or from a lack of hygiene.

Why Acne Develops
In most cases, the skin's condition is caused by hormonal imbalances or by an increase in the production of androgen. Thatís why acne so often prevails among adolescents and young adults, or may develop during the menstrual cycle. In some instances, the use of certain medications may cause the skin condition or excessive heat and humidity may contribute to pimples as well. Some patients may also develop acne if they use noncomedogenic cosmetics or skin care products to excess.

Are You the Right Candidate for Light Therapy?
While acne often appears on the facial area, the annoying lesions and zits may also make an appearance on such areas of the body as the back, arms, shoulders, legs, buttocks, and arms too. If youíve tried over-the-counter medications that contain either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to no avail, or want to forego antibiotic treatment, then laser or light therapy may be right for you.

Laser Treatments Can Clear Acne by as Much as 70%
Again, laser acne treatments, today, have been shown to safely and effectively treat acne-prone skin. Patients report that acne is reduced by as much as 60 to 70% after undergoing a course of laser treatments. Usually, treatment results can be seen after three or four appointments.

Before and After Laser Therapy for Acne Treatment

Acne Light Therapies

Dermatologist offices provide laser treatments that use one of a number of light therapies:

Photopneumatic Acne Therapy
One of these treatments is photopneumatic therapy. This light therapy combines the use of intense pulsed light (IPL) with a vacuum to extract the oil out of clogged whiteheads and blackheads. While this form of laser therapy cannot treat cysts, itís a very effective laser procedure for treating common acne conditions.

Photopneumatic Device:
Photopneumatic Acne Therapy

Photodynamic Acne Therapy (PDT) or Narrow Band Blue Light Therapy
Photodynamic Acne TherapyBlue light therapy, also referred to as PDT (photodynamic therapy), is the first light therapy sanctioned by the FDA for acne treatment. A narrow band of blue light activates a photosensitizing medicine to treat the skin condition. While this visible light treatment is helpful in treating pimples, itís not as effective for treating more severe forms, such as whiteheads, blackheads, nodules, or cysts. PDT has been proven to be a successful remedy for treating such dermatological conditions as actinic keratosis (precancerous sun lesions), wrinkles, psoriasis, and rosacea in addition to acne.

Infrared Light Therapy:
Infrared Light Therapy

Infrared Light Therapy
Infrared light therapy like blue light therapy, is recommended for treating pimples and is especially effective for treating mild inflammatory acne on the back.

You Canít Completely Remove Acne by the Use of Light Alone
Again, if acne medications have not produced the desired results, you may want to talk to a dermatologist about receiving laser or light therapy. However, you have to keep in mind that light alone will not completely remove pimples or comedo. Typically, light or laser remedies work best when used in concert with another form of treatment. A topical medicine applied to the treatment site or some sort of wash works well.

At this point in time, the results youíll obtain cannot be predicted with a large degree of certainty. Thatís because most people will experience clearing anywhere from 40% to 60%, on average, after several sessions. This figure is the median range for people who opt for FDA-approved blue light therapy.

Therefore, you need to undergo a series of treatment sessions, or one to two treatments each week for about a month. Each treatment session typically takes no more than 15 minutes to complete. In order to maintain the results, youíll probably be advised to additionally apply a topical medication to the treatment area.

Possible Side Effects
Laser or light therapy typically causes minimal side effects. Some swelling and redness can occur along with some discomfort, all which lasts no longer than 24 hours. Patients with darker skin tones may experience hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin.

Maintain a Regular Skin Care Regimen: Basic Skin Care Tips for Treating Acne

Cleanse your Skin Twice a Day
wash your face dailyTo obtain the best results for laser or light therapy, itís also important that you practice a regimen of good skin care. Therefore, make sure that you follow a routine where you clean your skin with a mild cleanser in the morning and at night.

Use an Alcohol-free Toner
Lightly use the tips of your fingers, cleansing not only the face but washing the neck and along the jaw as well. If you have inflammatory acne or pimples, use a cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide. Afterward, apply an alcohol-free toner with a pad to clean away any leftover residue.

Apply a Topical Cream
Next, apply a topical cream or medicine, if it is required or prescribed.

Although it sounds counterproductive, youíll also want to apply a moisturizer too. A light, noncomedogenic cream should be applied to lessen the chance for peeling or dryness, two side effects that can result from the application of acne medicines.

Before and After Laser Treatment
See how acne can be reduced by watching the following short video and viewing the before and after pictures:





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