Photodynamic Laser Acne Treatment
Acne affects some 40 million to 50 million Americans every year, and although most cases resolve without problems, others require extra help. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) reports that photodynamic laser therapy is an effective treatment for acne.
Acne occurs when the sebaceous glands below the skin's surface produce too much oil and become enlarged. The oil clogs pores, resulting in acne lesions, and the glands themselves can become enlarged, resulting in inflammation. Severe acne can be disfiguring and painful, and often does not respond to over-the-counter treatments.
Dermatologists originally developed photodynamic therapy, a form of light therapy, to treat actinic keratoses, an early form of skin cancer, according to the AAD. But physicians discovered the treatment had side benefits, including the elimination of acne lesions, for patients who received it.
Photodynamic acne treatment uses a laser or other type of light to trigger a medication that's been applied to the acne-affected skin. The physician first applies the medicated ointment to the skin, and after the medication soaks in, applies the light energy to the skin. The light activates the medication, which then acts to shrink the sebaceous glands, kill the acne-causing bacteria and reduce or even clear the acne infection.
Dermatologists caution that one or more photodynamic acne treatments are necessary for good results. In one preliminary study reported in 2009 at the AAD's annual meeting, Yale University dermatologist Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas said 14 patients treated with photodynamic therapy had complete resolution of their acne with an average of 2.9 treatment sessions.
Some patients may need additional treatments, such as oral or topical medications, in order to completely clear up their acne. In addition, patients treated with photodynamic therapy may have a recurrence of their acne months later. And insurance often does not cover the procedure. The AAD urges potential candidates for photodynamic acne treatment to discuss treatment options with their dermatologist.
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