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Aesthetics Practice Today

Laser Treatment of Acne

Published February 5, 2013 11:15 AM by Mina Grasso
Earlier this month I discussed using a combination of over-the-counter and prescription topical solutions for treatment of acne. In patients with more severe cases of acne, oral antibiotics and chemical peels may  be used in addition to other treatments. Laser or light therapy may provide improvement in clearing acne when these other treatments have failed.  I highly encourage continuing the use of topical acne solutions while undergoing laser or light therapy.

It's difficult to predict how patients will respond to these various treatments. Most see improvement, but results cannot be guaranteed. Usually, a series of treatments are required. The following technologies have been successful in our practice.

Acne Light (Omnilux Blue and Red Light)

  • Blue light is the most commonly used. It targets P. acnes.
  • Red light can be added in the regimen to help reduce the inflammation of acne.

Combining the two has been very effective for most patients. There is no downtime using either light alone. One 20-minute session of each light per week for 4-8 weeks is recommended.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

A photosensitizing drug such as ALA - aminolevulenic acid is applied to the skin and left to incubate for period of 30-60 min. (incubation period may vary in other practices). During this incubation period, ALA is absorbed by rapidly growing cells such as precancerous cells and other cancer cells and has recently expanded with great success in the treatment of acne.

After the incubation period, the skin is exposed to a light or laser source that activates the chemical absorbed to destroy P. acnes and will reduce the size and activity of the sebaceous glands. Patients must be advised to avoid sun exposure for 3 days. They will experience redness and exfoliation for 3-5 days but will result in faster resolution of acne.

Coolbreeze/CoolTouch Laser - 1320 nm

PhotoRejuvention - Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Spectra Acne Laser Toning - Q-switched Nd:YAG 1064

V-Beam Pulsed Dye Laser - 595nm

Thermage Monopolar Radiofrequency

Patients will experience reduction of non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne lesions using one or a combination of the laser and light technologies above combined with their topical acne regimen. These laser and light treatments have unique qualities depending on the wavelength and parameters used, but have overlapping benefits.

Most patients notice a marked improvement in their general skin condition due to collagen stimulation. They can experience pore size and sebum reduction as well as reduction of redness and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from acne inflammation.  Using a series of one or a combination of these laser and light technologies have improved our management of acne and acne scarring without causing any surface damage.

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    Occupation: Physician Assistant/Nurse Practitioner
    Setting: Miami & Upland, Calif.
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