Acne Scarring Laser Treatment
Acne is incredibly common -- almost every teenager suffers from at least a few pimples, and some are plagued with acne lesions throughout their teen years, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD). For most sufferers, acne is temporary; once their skin clears, there's no reminder of the pimples. But for an unfortunate few, acne leaves scarring. Fortunately, dermatologists offer a variety of treatments for acne scarring. Laser treatment can be an effective way to reduce the appearance of acne scars.
Acne has three primary causes, according to the Mayo Clinic. In acne-prone skin, the oil glands tend to overproduce the skin oil known as sebum. This oil provides an ideal environment for acne-causing bacteria to grow and proliferate. And in acne, the skin itself often sheds dead skin cells at a rapid, abnormal rate. These skin cells combine with the sebum to form whiteheads that block pores, and the bacterial overgrowth causes inflammation and infection. The result is bad acne.
When severe acne clears, it leaves behind scars that look a bit like craters in the skin, in the places where the pockets of infection had been located. People with these depressed acne scars on their faces often suffer from self-esteem problems because of the appearance of their skin, according to the AAD. Laser treatment cannot completely erase these scars, but it can make them less apparent and noticeable, the AAD says.
Although laser treatment for acne scars has been available for nearly a decade, few clinical trials have been conducted on its effectiveness. However, the research that has been published indicates the treatment shows promise. For example, one study published in 2009 in the journal "Lasers in Surgery and Medicine" looked at 20 patients treated by laser three times over 12 weeks for their depressed acne scars. The study concluded that the laser was an effective scar treatment, although patients reported significant pain as a treatment side effect.
Laser treatment doesn't offer instant results for acne scarring; studies show multiple treatments over several months likely will be needed to reduce the appearance of acne scarring. For example, a study reported in the journal "Dermatologic Surgery" in 2009 looked at 24 patients, and found four laser procedures over two months were needed to improve skin smoothness and reduce the number of scars.
Laser treatment is not cheap, and because dermatologists still consider it to be experimental in treating acne scars, most insurers will not pay for the procedure, the AAD warns. However, many patients report high satisfaction with their results from laser treatment for acne scarring, and many cosmetic skin centers offer the procedure. The AAD recommends that patients who want to rid themselves of their visible acne scars consult with a dermatologist to determine the best approach.
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