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Laser Acne Treatment: When Should You Consider It?

Updated on December 27, 2016


More than 19 million people in the United States alone suffer from various forms of acne. Almost every teenager has to deal with some type of acne problem, although adults can be afflicted with acne conditions as well. Acne affects all skin types and is usually found on the face, neck, and upper body.

Acne can take several forms such as: whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, nodules and cysts as well as permanent scars in the most severe cases. Acne problems will often clear up over time without treatment, sometimes though action is required to eliminate the condition. Among these treatments are topical medications and laser acne treatments.

What is Acne?

Acne appears when skin cells inside the hair follicles shed too fast and clump together plugging up the follicles causing a pimple to form. Acne is mostly genetic, although there are several other factors that can cause these problems as well.

These factors are: stress, hormonal activity, hyperactive sebaceous glands, accumulation of dead skin cells, bacteria in pores, skin irritation of any kind, anabolic steroids, medications containing halogens (iodides, chlorides, bromides), moisturizer overuse, hair removal, lithium, barbiturates, androgens, and exposure to high levels of chlorine compounds.

There is an overwhelming variety of preventions and acne treatments available to combat every known type of acne problem. Over-the-counter treatments are generally the first step people take when they decide to try to "cure" themselves. Benzoyl Peroxide, a chemical found in brand names such as Oxy, Clearasil, and Neutrogena is the most popular. All treatments are preventions for further outbreaks. For tougher cases there are oral and topical prescription medications available. If these do not work, the next step might be laser acne treatment.

Acne Laser Treatment

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Acne Laser Treatments

In this article we will focus on acne laser treatments. They have been used for a few years and gain popularity, as more information is available to the general public. Antibiotics have been overused and are no longer working as well as they previously have done for acne problems.

Laser therapy has outstanding results in eliminating acne, curing zits, and treating pimples. Treatment may include various types of laser exposure such as carbon dioxide lasers or nonablative lasers. Most treatments are effective and painless and come at a noticeable cost. A fifteen to twenty minute session costs around $500. When considering the accumulating expense of other treatments, most feel it's an acceptable price to pay.

Laser treatments work by emitting a smooth laser beam that focuses on the problem areas. The laser emits pulsating heat below the skin's surface and diminishes the size of sebaceous glands, which are responsible for acne. Patients use creams to numb the problem area making the process virtually painless.

There are some side effects to laser acne treatments. These may include; skin discoloration, skin crusting, and sometimes swelling of the effected area. The side effects are low so patients can be confident in undergoing this procedure.

Before Resurfacing

Before Treatment
Before Treatment

After Resurfacing

After 3 Treatments
After 3 Treatments

Laser Resurfacing

Probably the most common type of laser acne treatment is laser resurfacing. In this treatment the doctor holds a laser pen just above the effected area waving a concentrated beam of light back and forth eliminating the unwanted tissue and creating a new surface for skin cell growth.

After this treatment new collagen will form. Collagen is protein in the skin's connective tissue that helps give the skin its texture. Laser resurfacing is safe and painless in almost all cases. Bruising and swelling are normal after the procedure lasting seven to 10 days.

Directly after the treatment, make-up should not be applied until the bruising and swelling have gone away. Laser resurfacing costs around $2500 for a full facial treatment, as opposed to other types of scar and acne removal, which generally cost around $1000. Many patients have gotten great success from acne laser treatments and feel the higher cost is worth it in the long run.

There are no Federal restrictions on who can perform laser resurfacing. However, there are regulations for the laser manufacturers themselves. When considering this laser acne treatment you want to have a Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon handle the procedure. They are well trained in this specialized medical procedure and will do everything possible to make sure your session goes as smoothly as possible for you.

Choosing a Specialiast

Before committing to a doctor, there are certain questions you should ask:

  1. Where did the Doctor receive his/her training on the laser equipment?
  2. Does he/she rent or own the laser equipment?
  3. Ask to see before and after pictures of other patients they've used this treatment on.
  4. How many different types of lasers does he/she own?
  5. How often is the equipment used?

Note: At first you might not see the relevance of asking such questions, but they'll help you choose an experienced specialist with whom you're confident will give you the best treatment and care you could possibly want.

Summing up

Laser acne treatment is considered more invasive than other treatments because it removes damaged skin by erosion, melting, evaporation, and vaporization. Because of this, laser treatment may not be suitable for darker skin tones. It could possibly alter skin color dramatically and unpredictably.

When considering whether laser acne treatment is right for you, don't be afraid to consult with more than one dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Finding the right doctor and asking lots of questions will ensure that you have the best treatment possible performed by a specialist with whom you feel both confident and comfortable.


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      Jessica Wilson 9 years ago

      This is an awesome site full of valuable information! The links are great too! This site is not only informative, it made my searching for acne products a lot quicker!!

    • profile image

      Nancy Haydon 9 years ago

      I love this site. It is so comprehensive, giving all the options available for treatment, and also lots of background info that I didn't know before. Many thnaks!