Skin Health

Some Acne Treatments “Suck” – Literally

Some acne treatments “suck” – literally. That’s why they are seemingly proving so successful. I use an advanced treatment system that combines suction with broadband light therapy to treat acne, the common skin condition affecting some 17 million Americans, including 85 percent of young people between 12 and 24 years of age. Called the TheraClear™ Acne System, which has been developed by the Theravant Corporation, the technology literally suctions the skin to unclog its pores, removing the oily, waxy substance – sebum — produced by the sebaceous glands, and then applies intense light to kill the acne bacteria and limit further production of sebum.

It’s a one-two punch. Rid the skin of the sebum and then eliminate the bacteria,

Experts point to “a surprising lack of research” supporting claims of the long-term efficacy of acne treatment devices that have come to market in recent years. At least one study, published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, has found the combination of suction and “mid-infrared” laser light to be “a safe and effective modality” for treating mild-to-moderate acne conditions.

I concur with dermatologists who advise that medical devices like TheraClear™ should not be considered a front-line treatment for acne, since proper care and cleansing of skin at home and use of over-the-counter or prescribed creams, lotions, and ointments often clears up the condition.

But patience is not necessarily a virtue for those who must endure the disfiguring appearance that acne gives to the skin, and topical skin medications take time to work. Acne can affect a person’s self-image and social confidence.

In fact, authors of a study published earlier this year (2018) in The British Journal of Dermatology found that acne patients had a significantly higher risk of developing major depression, particularly within the first year following an acne diagnosis.

Acne is considered a complex disorder, characterized by formation of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, papules and pustules on the skin, especially on the face and neck. Hormonal changes – like those that occur during puberty or before a woman’s menstrual cycle – are usually to blame for the condition, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Shifts in hormones can upset skin biology, causing an overproduction of sebum and skin cells, which block skin pores, inflame and swell skin follicles, and promote growth of bacteria that produce their own inflammatory substances. The immune reaction to the bacteria leads to the all-too-familiar acne bumps and red splotches on the skin.

Scientists indicate no “magic bullet” is currently available for treating acne, because the condition has many variants and can require more than a single therapeutic approach. New therapies, however, may be on the horizon.

Patients not diagnosed with serious acne, but with skin unresponsive to more standard treatments, may be candidates for TheraClear™. Although this device has not undergone significant study to determine its long-term effectiveness, clinical results to date have so far been exciting. Many patients are seeing obvious improvements in their skin after only a few treatments.

However, some patients may require as many as four-to-six treatments before desired results are obtained.

Meanwhile, I offer these tips for managing acne at home:

  • Treat acne early — as soon as it develops.
  • Stick with an anti-acne product; give it time – a month or more – to work. Switching products every few days may only aggravate the condition.
  • Wash your face at least twice daily – more if you sweat – but avoid scrubbing, which only irritates the skin.
  • Don’t pop pimples. That could cause scarring or infection.
  • Use makeup, skin or hair products labelled noncomedogenic (“not clogging pores”).
  • Regularly wash sheets, pillowcases, and other items in contact with your acne.

Finally, if you’re not getting desired results from your own home care, contact a dermatologist to determine next best steps.

Jayme Bashian is director and lead medical aesthetician for the Simply Posh Aesthetic Spa, a division of Advanced Dermatology PC and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery. She is board-certified in aesthetics.

Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) is one of the leading dermatology centers in the nation, offering highly experienced physicians in the fields of cosmetic and laser dermatology as well as plastic surgery and state-of-the-art medical technologies.

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