Acne can be a very challenging issue—often requiring interventions above and beyond prescription medications. Topical skin care products and chemical peels can help reduce clogged pores and exfoliate the surface of the skin. Lasers and light treatments can help acne by targeting the overactive oil glands that are the root problem of acne.
Photodynamic therapy is the application of a chemical—levulinic acid—to the skin followed by an incubation time during which the chemical is taken up into overactive oil gland, then a chemical-light reaction is stimlulated by exposure to blue light—Blu-U. This reaction is most intense in the oil glands where the levulinic acid has concentrated. Further activation of the chemical is stimulated by the Vbeam pulsed dye laser. The addition of the laser enhances treatment response and also can reduce redness associated with acne lesions. Typically 3-5 treatments are needed for best results.
At Charlotte Skin & Laser, we have seen wonderful results with even fairly severe acne using PDT. Best candidates seem to be those with more cystic or pustular acne or very oily skin. This PDT protocol is also very good for generalized facial sebaceous hyperplasia or enlarged oil glands.
The same light—Blu-U—that is used to activate the levulinic acid in PDT can be used alone (no levulinic acid application) to decrease bacterial counts on the skin surface and help acne. This is most often done in conjunction with chemical peels and facial extractions to remove and lessen clogged pores. Weekly treatments are recommended for several weeks.
Smoothbeam Laser for Acne:
The Smoothbeam was the first laser used to treat acne. It is helpful for acne as well as acne scarring. The Smoothbeam laser emits a beam of light that is absorbed by the water in your skin that is located in and around the sebaceous glands. The water is heated by the laser and causes a mild thermal injury which alters the structure and function of the glands. As a result, the sebaceous glands are reduced in size and produce less oil. All ages and skin types are able to get Smoothbeam treatments. It is even safe for pregnant women who have acne flares and are unable to take many acne medications.
Improvement of acne is gradual over the course of 3 to 6 treatments and may continue even after the series is completed. Treatments are typically given 3-5 weeks apart. Topical numbing cream is applied for one hour prior to treatment. Additional treatments may be needed for more severe acne or deeper scarring. Studies have shown consistent long-lasting results with greater than 80% reduction of acne after 3 treatments. Treatments are best paired with medical treatments. Smoothbeam treatments do not cure acne and individual results can vary