Laser Therapy for Acne


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Laser treatment for acne should not be confused with the laser skin resurfacing procedure that is used to improve the appearance of acne scars. The laser treatment is used on active acne and works in a totally different way. It is a reasonably controversial technique as many medical professionals do not believe that it actually works. There has been little research done into the area so it is not really possible to say whether or not it really works. There have been success stories, but equally many people have experienced no positive results.

In theory, laser treatment for acne works by directing a laser at the acne-affected area. When the laser is directed towards the skin it comes into contact with the bacteria that play a key part in the development of acne. These bacteria are made up of lots of components, and each bacterium has a compound within it called a porphyrin. When the laser comes into contact with porphyrins it forces them to behave differently to normal, causing them to produce and release higher quantities of Oxygen. This destroys the bacteria from the inside out. The idea is, the fewer bacteria there are on the acne-prone skin, the less likely it is that acne lesions will develop.

Some types of laser are also thought to interfere with the function of your sebaceous glands. This means that the glands produce less of the natural oil called sebum that is a key part of the acne forming process. This it thought to happen because the water in your skin absorbs the laser. The water then becomes hot and limits the effect of the sebaceous glands, often reducing them in size. Another supposed benefit is that the use of the laser is thought to encourage the healing of the skin as it could boost collagen levels in the skin. This reduces the chance of acne lesions scarring. Many medical professionals are profoundly sceptical about this process actually working.

There are, however, many supporters of the treatment and many practitioners who perform the it. There are also a number of different lasers available these include pulsed-dye lasers, diode lasers, pulsed light and heat lasers and ‘vacuum’ (Isolaz) lasers. By far the most common laser used in the treatment of acne, however, is the pulsed-dye laser (PDL). Often laser therapy is used in conjunction with a skin treatment called 5-aminolevulinic acid or ALA. This magnifies the effect of the laser therapy.

The use of laser treatments on active acne is becoming increasingly popular due to the potential benefits of the procedure. If the therapy can deliver all it promises, you can expect to see up to an 80% improvement in the appearance of their acne. It is also relatively effort-free and means you do not have to follow rigorous skin care routines or take medications that may have side effects. The treatment does not usually take much longer than thirty minutes and is also relatively free of side effects. You may experience slight discomfort during the process and there is a possibility of some redness and swelling for a couple of days afterwards but compared to other treatments for acne, these are mild effects.

The reality is, however that you will need more than one treatment. Practitioners often recommend between three and seven treatments over a few months. This can be very expensive as laser therapy is not cheap. Also, laser therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments anyway so the benefit of ‘effort-free acne treatment’ does not really exist. The biggest concern, however, is that it may not even work. Studies so far have not been able to agree, some claim that it does not work while others claim that they do. Bearing this in mind, it is perhaps better to turn to laser therapy only as a last resort.


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