About Laser Acne Treatments
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 85 percent of all American teenagers will have acne each year, making acne the most common skin condition in the United States. Laser treatment has gained popularity in treating acne because it often produces results quickly.
Hormones drive acne, which is why teenagers tend to suffer from it, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The surging hormones common in adolescence overstimulate the skin's sebaceous glands, which produce the skin's oil. This oil combines with dead skin cells to plug up pores and cause pimples, and these blocked pores provide the ideal environment for bacteria to multiply, leading to inflammation and infection in the skin.
Laser treatments target just one of the factors that cause acne: the overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria, according to the AAD. Blasts from laser beams penetrate beneath the skin's surface and heat up pockets of infection, killing the bacteria that live in them. Acne sufferers often report significant clearing of their lesions after one or two treatments.
Medical research generally has backed laser treatments as effective in acne treatment. For example, a study published in 2009 in the journal "Dermatologic Surgery" looked at 16 acne patients who received treatments from different types of lasers and found that more than 85 percent of inflamed acne lesions disappeared after three treatments. A study published in 2009 in the "Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy" compared laser treatment with other acne treatments and found lasers were just as effective as topical medications and chemical peels.
Laser treatment can be uncomfortable, according to the AAD, although dermatologists often offer patients a pre-treatment numbing cream that can help reduce the sensation. Patients report that laser bursts feel like the snapping of a rubber band against the skin. Side effects include pain during and after the treatment, skin reddening and occasional swelling; these effects usually go away within a day of treatment.
Laser treatment clears acne lesions, but most patients need to use topical medications, such as benzoyl peroxide or tretinoin, to prevent acne from returning, according to the AAD. In addition, laser treatments can be expensive, and the AAD reports that insurance generally will not pay for it because it is considered experimental. Laser acne treatments can, however, serve as part of an overall treatment strategy for acne, and the AAD urges potential patients to talk with their dermatologists about laser therapy.
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