The Truth about Laser Treatment and Acne

Jen Hayes, MD|November 9, 2015

Laser Treatment_mainDo you suffer from embarrassing acne scars? Almost everyone gets acne at some point in their life. Unfortunately, some people have had such severe acne that they’ve been left with disfiguring scarring. At Advanced Skin Care & Dermatology Physicians, our doctors are passionate about and committed to making your skin look the best it can possibly look. One of the most rewarding parts of being a dermatologist is helping people feel confident and beautiful in their own skin! How does acne lead to scarring? Not everyone with acne gets acne scars. People who tend to get acne scars are people who have the big, cystic pimples. These acne cysts rupture on their own or from being popped, which causes the scar-making cells in your skin to proliferate. As a result, the area where the pimple was becomes tough and “bound-down” often leading to what we call “ice pick” scarring. The great news is that our doctors at Advanced Skin Care are so skilled at treating acne that our patients rarely get to the point of scarring under our watch. After all, this is why we encourage products and treatment plans to prevent scarring from happening in the first place! But, what if I already have scars? Don’t worry, because, here at Advanced Skin Care, we are equipped with an amazing tool to battle your acne scars. Here’s how: In the olden days, we used to have lasers that were very harsh and not so safe. Old lasers used to lead to a lot of down time and had a higher risk of scarring because they didn’t have the special technology we have today. We have a laser in our office called Profractional. This laser works to build new collagen and plump the skin to improve the appearance of acne scars. Rather than removing the entire top layer of your skin like old lasers (ouch!), the Profractional laser stimulates collagen by causing micro-columns of wounded skin. The fact that the laser causes wounds is why it’s considered an “ablative” laser. The adjacent normal skin next to each column of wounded skin serves as a reservoir of healthy cells that help heal the wound, leading to minimal down-time! The Profractional laser is an Erbium-YAG laser. We prefer this laser over some of the other lasers such as CO2 because it generates less heat, so it doesn’t damage the skin around each column of ablation. This makes the Erbium-Yag more efficient at going deeper into the skin, which is important when treating acne scars without causing a lot of collateral damage to the areas of normal skin around it. More collateral damage would mean more down time, more pink discoloration, and potentially a greater risk of complications after the laser treatment was done. Most people require more than one treatment with the Profractional laser. Some people may require only 1-2 treatments, others may require more. Fortunately, we can treat just the areas of acne scarring, or we can treat the entire face to brighten and smooth the entire complexion. The choice is up to the patient. What should I expect the day of Profractional laser treatment? An hour before your procedure, you will apply a thick layer of numbing cream on the areas we plan to laser. We will take photos of your face, so we have something to compare your beautiful laser-treated face to after the procedure. When we laser your face, you will feel slight discomfort similar to a rubber band snapping against the skin. But, the numbing cream helps to minimize this discomfort. What should I expect after the Profractional laser procedure? After the laser is done, your face will be very red and may swell. Your face may also develop oozing and crusting as it heals over the course of a couple of days. This is followed by about a week of mild peeling and redness. It’s of the utmost importance to protect your skin from the sun after treatment! Otherwise, the aftereffects may worsen. As you begin to heal, the redness can be covered with makeup starting days 3 or 4. While this has been a lot of information about laser treatment and acne, we hope this better answers any questions or concerns you may have. If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to comment or call us today and get your consultation about our profractional laser!

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