In some cases, usually extreme cases, laser treatment for acne is a viable option. However, not all cases need this treatment. Doctors may suggest using home, or prescription medications first.
Despite what acne wash manufacturers and celebrity endorsed “systems” would have you believe, the best treatment for acne will be something different for everybody. What works for one person, might actually make things worse for someone else. For those who have tried all the OTC creams, gels, and washes available and are still having severe breakouts and scarring, laser acne treatments may provide another alternative.
What is Acne Laser Treatment?
Laser treatments usually involve using light wavelengths over the face. Blue light is used most often, but a combination of red and blue light may also be used. This light is said to create “singlet oxygen” which destroy acne causing bacteria while also reducing the appearance of scars. In some cases, light waves and heat are pulsed at intervals over the skin. These treatments not only kill acne causing bacteria, but they can also shrink oil glands, leading to reduced oil production over time. According to Alma Lasers, up to 80% of people see an improvement in acne symptoms, and often at much faster rates that those using pharmaceutical acne treatments.
Medication may be applied directly onto the skin to make it more sensitive to the lights being used.
Most patients will be done with treatments within a month, but this may be handled on a case by case basis.
Contrary to what many assume, laser treatments are also said to have fewer side effects than oral acne medications. Medications may cause behavior changes and other severe side effects, making them unfavorable for some people, especially those with mood disorders and other mental health conditions. The most common side effects reported with laser treatments are redness at the treatment sites, peeling, and flaking according to Mayo Clinic. These effects are temporary.
Downsides of Laser Therapy
While laser therapy works for the majority of patients, it isn’t for everyone. Some acne sufferers may see no results, especially if their acne isn’t bacterial in nature. Obviously, laser treatments are more expensive than many other acne treatments, including prescription medications in many cases. Laser therapies require multiple treatments, usually spanned over several weeks. This not only requires an investment of funds, but also time in going to multiple doctor’s appointments.
Additionally, laser therapies are not available in all areas, so this is limiting to some individuals.
Who Should Use Laser Therapy
Although laser or light therapies for acne are generally considered safe, those with severe or treatment resistant acne benefit most from treatments. Most sufferers would do well to try less expensive and invasive treatments first, such as over the counter cleansers, toners, and creams. Those who experience side effects from oral medications may also want to try laser therapies as a safer and less risky alternative.
Those who are interested in receiving laser treatments can usually have a consultation with a specialist. This will help patients determine whether laser therapy is the right course of action for them, and whether they can handle the financial costs of treatments.