If you have acne, you've probably wished at times for a treatment that would clean out your pores instantly, leaving you with flawless skin. Although no such magic treatment exists, some dermatologists now offer new technology that uses suction to clear pores combined with broadband light to kill acne-promoting bacteria. The treatment appears effective in acne and it does seem to work quickly, but it's been in use only since 2008 and clinicians have conducted just a few studies on it.
Clogged pores make up one of the root causes of acne, while bacterial infection also contributes. When your skin's oil-manufacturing glands make too much of the oil, called sebum, the excess can plug pores at the skin's surface. This creates whiteheads and blackheads, and also provides an inviting atmosphere for acne-promoting bacteria. The bacteria cause infection and inflammation in acne, leading to prominent pimples.
Photopneumatic therapy for acne uses suction and broadband light to treat your skin. The suction draws out the blockages in your pores, while the broadband light penetrates below your skin's surface to kill the bacteria that promotes acne. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only one photopneumatic device for acne treatment--Isolaz. Isolaz holds FDA approval to treat severe types of acne as well as mild to moderate acne.
Isolaz treatment is painless, according to the device's manufacturer, so you won't need an anesthetic. During treatment, the dermatologist or technician will apply the tip of the photopneumatic device to the treatment area, and you may feel warmth as the broadband light strikes your skin. In most cases, facial treatment takes about 20 minutes, and larger areas of skin can take longer, the company says.
The few clinical studies performed on photopneumatic acne treatment indicate they can successfully treat the skin condition. In a study reported in the "Journal of Drugs in Dermatology" in 2008, researchers recruited 11 patients ranging in age from 15 to 54, all of whom had mild to moderate acne. After four Isolaz treatments, each spaced three weeks apart, all subjects experienced a significant reduction in acne lesions, although the study did not report the actual reduction percentage. In addition, 82 percent of the subjects said they were moderately satisfied or very satisfied with the treatment.
Photopneumatic treatments for acne work quickly, according to Isolaz--the company reports that blemishes begin to flatten and clear within two days of treatment. However, the 2008 journal study indicates the treatment doesn't clear skin completely. In addition, Isolaz treatments can be expensive--for example, treatments started at $100 each in the office of Dr. Ben Lee, a Denver-based dermatologist who recommends a package of five to seven Isolaz treatments.
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