Acner.org: Acne treatment

Acner.org: Acne treatment

Advanced Laser Acne Treatment

Advanced Laser Acne Treatment

Overview

Most people develop pimples as they're becoming teenagers; the American Academy of Dermatology calls acne the most common skin disease in the United States, and reports that up to 50 million people, mostly teens, suffer from acne each year. Although many people have good luck treating their acne with medicated creams and ointments, some need extra help. A newer, advanced type of laser acne treatment called photodynamic therapy can curb acne that's proven resistant to other treatments.

Acne Causes

If you've got acne, you probably can blame it on your hormones, specifically your male hormones. Hormonal surges, which are common in the teen years but which can continue well into adulthood, drive oil production by the skin's sebaceous glands, according to the Cleveland Clinic. That excess oil can clog your pores and provide an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. As a result, you get whiteheads, blackheads, cysts and inflammation.

Laser Treatment Function

Laser therapy attacks the bacterial infection that contributes to acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the laser light energy bursts and kills the bacteria. However, laser treatments don't seem to kill all the bacteria, which is where photodynamic therapy comes in. In photodynamic therapy, dermatologists first apply a medication that makes your skin more sensitive to the laser energy, and then apply the laser itself.

Treatment Details

If you choose photodynamic therapy to treat your acne, you'll likely receive three or four treatments over the course of 12 weeks. At each treatment, your dermatologist first will apply the photo-sensitizing medication. Depending on how severe your acne is, you'll leave the medication on for up to one hour. Then, the American Academy of Dermatology reports, you'll wash off the medication, and the dermatologist will begin the laser therapy, which usually takes up to half an hour, depending on the size of the area being treated.

Medical Research

Although photodynamic therapy is a newer advanced laser treatment option, medical studies indicate it is promising. For example, a study performed at Cornell University and published in March 2010 in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology compared photodynamic therapy to conventional laser therapy in eight patients. The study found that acne improved by 52 percent when treated by photodynamic therapy and improved by only 32 percent when treated with conventional laser therapy.

Considerations

Because the medication used in this advanced form of laser acne treatment encourages the skin to absorb more laser energy, side effects tend to be a bit more severe in photodynamic therapy than they would be in conventional laser therapy. Patients can experience redness, skin crusting, swelling and even acne flareups during treatment. However, these side effects tend to clear within a few days. If you have particularly stubborn acne, you might want to talk with your dermatologist about whether advanced photodynamic laser acne treatment will help you clear your skin.

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