Acne Laser Treatment Success
Most teenagers will get acne; according to the American Academy of Dermatology, or AAD, acne affects between 40 and 50 million people in any given year, most of them teens and younger adults. But while acne can be stubborn to treat, dermatologists and acne sufferers increasingly are turning to laser treatments to help. Laser therapy can successfully drive acne into remission, often with just a few treatments.
Although scientists don't know exactly what causes acne, surging hormones seem to play a large role, which explains its prevalence in teenagers, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Hormones stimulate the skin's oil-producing sebaceous glands to make too much oil, and oily skin then provides a perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria to grow and multiply. As a result, whiteheads and blackheads form, and the skin becomes inflamed and infected.
Acne laser treatments target just one of the several interrelated causes of acne: the overgrowth of bacteria on and under the skin's surface, according to the AAD. Heat produced when laser pulses penetrate the skin kills the bacteria, which reduces the existing infection and often prevents new pimples from forming. Laser treatment does not calm the overactive sebaceous glands, however, so infection can recur once treatments stop.
Laser treatment for acne often produces dramatic results in just a couple of sessions, according to the AAD. A study published in 2009 in the medical journal Dermatologic Surgery tested two different types of lasers in treating facial acne in 16 subjects. Patients underwent three treatment sessions over six weeks, and were evaluated several times over the next six weeks. The study found that both types of lasers reduced inflammatory acne lesions by at least 85 percent, and that the subjects' faces remained almost clear six weeks after their last treatment sessions.
Laser treatment side effects generally are mild, according to the AAD. Physicians often offer patients a numbing cream to use on the treatment area prior to the actual treatment, and this can dull the sharp "snap" of the laser bursts on the skin. After the treatment, patients can expect their skin to feel reddened and sunburned, and some may experience temporary swelling from the laser therapy.
According to the AAD, long-term effectiveness of laser treatment for acne hasn't been proven, and some patients will see their acne return or worsen several months after treatment. In addition, because laser treatment addresses only one of acne's several causes, patients likely will need to use other therapies, such as topical medication, in order to get the best results.
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