Acne Treatment & Laser Peel
Acne, which the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says is the most common skin condition in the country, plagues teenagers and young adults, causing pimples, blackheads, inflammation and potentially even scarring. Most cases will clear up with a combination of over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide-containing products and careful skin care to control excess oil, but some patients need extra help. Those patients may benefit from laser peel acne treatments.
When the skin's sebaceous glands, which produce the skin's oil, become overstimulated, the excess oil generated can clog pores. It also provides a welcoming environment for Propionibacterium acnes, which, when it proliferates, can cause inflammation. The combination of these factors results in bad cases of acne, with multiple lesions, pain, blackheads and infection.
Laser peels used as acne treatment target two of the multiple factors causing acne, according to the AAD. Laser peel treatments work by killing the P. acnes bacteria, which reduces infection and inflammation and ultimately can lead to skin clearing. They also work by shrinking or even destroying the oil-producing sebaceous glands below the surface of the patient's skin. Shrunken sebaceous glands produce less oil, which leads to fewer clogged pores and less acne.
Medical studies generally support the use of laser peels in acne treatment, although the AAD cautions that the procedures are relatively new and long-term effectiveness hasn't been proven. A study published in the "Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy" in 2009 considered the pulsed-dye laser in acne treatment for 45 patients, and concluded that it worked well after six treatments spaced over 12 weeks, but that patients tended to relapse two months after treatments ended. Another study, this one reported in "Dermatologic Surgery" in 2009, looked at two different types of lasers and found they both were effective in acne treatment.
Laser peel treatments will not provide instant relief from acne, according to the AAD; in some cases, laser peels might cause acne to get worse before it gets better. In most medical studies, patients received two to four treatments before their acne started to improve, although some lucky patients see marked improvement after one laser peel, the AAD reports.
A full series of acne treatment laser peels can be expensive, and because insurers consider laser peels to treat acne as experimental, most will likely decline to pay for the procedures. In addition, laser peels don't target all the factors that cause acne, so your dermatologist likely will recommend additional treatments, such as topical medications containing benzoyl peroxide or retinols, to supplement laser peels.
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