Laser Skin Treatment for Acne?

Should you consider a laser skin treatment for acne? Laser acne treatments offer some of the latest technologies to achieve clear skin. BUT, you need to weigh the costs against the benefits.

How do laser acne treatments work?

A laser skin treatment for acne reduces blemishes by destroying overactive oil glands along with acne-causing bacteria (P. Acnes).

Essentially, the light and heat from the lasers burn away or damage the oil (sebaceous) glands, causing them to produce less oil.

In addition, like light therapy, some laser treatments expose the P. Acnes bacteria to oxygen, thereby killing them.

Most laser- and light-based therapies reach the deeper layers of skin without harming the skin's surface. Because lasers emit a tiny stream of light they are able to target specific areas of the skin without damaging surrounding areas.

Several types of laser acne treatments have been approved for use, but they all boil down to 2 main types of lasers: ablative and non-ablative lasers.

  • Ablative lasers affect the skin’s top upper layer and require more healing time. They may be good for treating certain types of acne that are not deep and are often used for getting rid of acne scars.

  • Non-ablative laser treatments work on a deeper level, treating the layers of skin under the surface without affecting the surface too much. Non-ablative lasers are by far the most common, have fewer side effects, and require little to no recovery time.

Top Laser Acne Treaments:

The kinds of lasers that doctors use on acne patients include Diode, Pulsed Dye, and Pulsed Light and Heat Energy (LHE), as well as a new “vacuum” laser called Isolaz.

Some of the most common brands of laser acne treatments are:

  • Fraxel
  • Smoothbeam
  • N-Lite
  • V-Beam
  • CoolTouch
  • Isolaz

What to Expect:

An effective laser skin treatment for acne can require multiple trips to the doctor’s office. Doctors usually recommend three treatments, about a month apart, and some doctors recommend more treatments, and sometimes more frequently.

When lasers were first used they were not as precise; however, they have now been replaced by newer laser technologies. These newer lasers can target the source of the acne such as the sebaceous glands or the blood vessels that cause swelling without hurting the surrounding skin.

New laser acne treatments don't require much healing time so that patients can resume normal activities quickly. The new devices are also much less painful than earlier versions were.

Possible Complications :

A laser skin treatment for acne can have potential adverse effects, including:
  • Burning sensation like a sunburn
  • Dryness
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pigment changes and scarring, especially in dark-skinned patients or those who’ve taken Accutane

Some lasers — like the Fraxel laser — might be more likely than others to cause these effects.

Results :

The number of treatment needed to get results varies based on the severity of the acne and the type of laser used.

Depending on the specific laser treatment used you can expect to see results anywhere from one day to one month after starting treatment. You should discuss this with your dermatologist before deciding on the treatment you prefer.

Once the active acne is contained it may be necessary to get regular maintenance laser acne treatments to minimize acne flare-ups. These may be monthly or bi-monthly as recommended by your doctor.

Cost :

A treatment session can range from around $200-$500 per treatment. Many health insurance providers consider laser treatments to be "cosmetic" procedures and thus might not cover them. You should check with your provider to make sure.

In terms of acne care, laser skin treatment procedures are an emerging therapy for clearer skin with very exciting prospects.

Of course the procedures can be expensive and it is still unknown is who would benefit the most from laser and light therapies; however, the results can be impressive.

Additionally, lasers and light therapies can also improve skin texture and lessen the appearance of scars, so they may be good treatment choices for people with both active acne and acne scars.

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