About Acne Lasers
Almost every teenager suffers from acne, and in most it's just a temporary inconvenience. But a small percentage of people have acne that resists treatment despite careful skin care and over-the-counter acne remedies. They could be candidates for treatment with acne lasers. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), laser treatment is effective against many cases of acne.
Severe acne results from a combination of factors, including overproduction of oil in the sebaceous glands deep in the skin, clogged pores resulting from that excess oil, and infection and inflammation related to acne-causing bacteria. Acne lasers target the overactive sebaceous glands and associated inflammation.
Dermatologists offer treatments with two types of acne lasers, ablative and non-ablative. Non-ablative lasers require little recovery time and can be very effective in controlling acne without injuring the skin, according to the AAD. Ablative lasers, on the other hand, are a very powerful tool used more frequently to reduce the appearance of scars than for acne itself. Treatment with ablative lasers requires several weeks of recovery time, can be painful and offers few advantages over non-ablative lasers.
The acne lasers used to treat the condition emit light that is absorbed by the water in the skin around and inside the overactive sebaceous glands. The light energy heats the water, which then heats the glands and causes them to shrink. It also alters their structure so that they produce less oil. Treatments with non-ablative acne lasers generally last up to 20 minutes. Discomfort is minimal; some sensitive patients may prefer to apply a pre-treatment numbing agent and use ice on their treated skin after the procedure.
Patients may need multiple treatments. According to the AAD, dermatologists often recommend three to five sessions, given once a month, in order to successfully treat a moderate case of acne. This series of treatments should keep acne lesions at bay for up to six months or longer in some cases.
Treatment with acne lasers is expensive and generally is not covered by insurance, according to the AAD. Also, long-term effectiveness has not been proven, and some patients say their acne returned half-a-year or more after acne laser treatment. However, some patients may find that treatment with acne lasers produces long-term success, especially if it's coupled with other acne therapies. The AAD urges potential laser treatment candidates to consult with their dermatologist to determine what treatment or combination of treatments would be most effective.
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