Cold Laser Treatment for Acne
Cold laser treatment can be an effective way to treat stubborn or severe acne without strong oral or topical medication. The cold laser, when used by a dermatologist to treat acne, kills the bacteria that causes acne (Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes for short), but leaves the healthy skin cells untouched. More studies are needed, but some dermatologists say this can cure acne permanently.
Cold laser therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (3LT), is different from traditional laser therapy because it uses a lower level of power to penetrate the skin. This stimulates the body's cells and speeds the healing process without risking burns. Manufacturers of cold laser therapy devices, which are used to treat scars and swelling as well as acne, say they cause no pain.
Patients considering cold laser treatment for acne should consult with a dermatologist who is experienced in the procedure. The dermatologist can confirm whether acne treatment using the cold laser will be successful. During the treatment itself, the laser is placed over affected areas of skin and can be applied for as little as five minutes or as long as 20 minutes, depending on the severity of the case. Patients report little discomfort from the procedure, and generally say they don't feel anything, or feel a slight warming of the skin.
Acne treatment with the cold laser typically involves two treatments a week for six weeks. Many patients report seeing results after the second week of treatments. The time frame is similar to that experienced by patients being treated with Accutane, an oral medication often prescribed for severe acne, or with older, hot lasers. However, the side effects involved are reported to be dramatically reduced. The cost of cold laser treatment for acne varies depending on the severity of the case.
Unlike the skin irritation and burns that are possible with hot lasers, side effects from cold lasers appear to be minimal or non-existent. According to Erchonia Medical Devices, which manufactures the DermaLASER cold laser device, 30 years worth of research has shown no negative side effects from low-level laser treatment. Still, dermatologists caution that eye damage can occur if a patient looks directly into the beam.
Few studies have been done on the long-term effects of cold laser treatment for acne. A 2007 research review from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine found only one study that considered the procedure. That study showed improvement in acne lesions in treated patients versus a control group, but a second study could not confirm the results. The researchers concluded that more work is needed to confirm the effectiveness of cold laser treatment for acne. However, clinicians who use the cold laser systems in their practices express confidence in their results.
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