Many people are experiencing cystic acne that penetrates deep into the skin, generating large, swollen nodules causing depression and low-level confidence. Thanks to medical aesthetics, acne prevention and laser treatment have been developed, helping many individuals restore their confidence. With the help of laser treatments, it aims to minimize the appearance of scars from old acne outbreaks.
As a matter of fact, acne laser treatments focus light on the top layers of the skin to break up scar tissue. Simultaneously, the treatment encourages new, healthy skin cells to grow and replace the scar tissue. While this treatment doesn’t totally remove acne scars, it can reduce their appearance and minimize the pain caused by them.
What Is Cystic Acne In A Nutshell?
Cystic acne symptoms are large, red, boil-like swellings called cysts or nodules found on the face, jawline, neck, back, or chest, which some of them may be painful or tender to the touch. This type of acne is diagnosed through a physical examination. While the condition can be diagnosed and treated by a general practitioner, cystic acne usually requires the services of a dermatologist.
Moreover, a patient’s medical history will reveal possible causes or risk factors such as age, pregnancy, family history of acne, medication use, anabolic steroids, or stress. Usually, acne may start when the opening of the skin’s oil glands is clogged and accumulates sebum, which feeds acne-causing bacteria. In these enlarged, clogged oil glands, the build-up of bacteria triggers inflammation and, in turn, leads to pimples.
Severe and cystic acne can cover the face, chest, and back in some cases. It can also spread along the jawline, neck, and even armpits and buttocks.
How Does Laser Treatment Help Cystic Acne?
Some patients with severe acne cysts had seen clearing for years when laser therapy was added to their treatment plan. There are two ways that laser treatment works for acne scarring. First, the laser’s heat works to remove the top layer of the skin where a scar has formed, and as this top layer of the scar peels off, the skin will appear smoother, with the scar’s appearance less evident.
Next, the heat and light from the laser also encourage new, healthy skin cells to grow as the scar tissue breaks apart. Moreover, the laser’s heat draws blood flow to the area, and inflammation is reduced as blood vessels in the scar are targeted. With this combination, scars look less raised and red, giving them a minor appearance and promoting the skin’s healing.
What Are The Types Of Lasers And Lights?
There is no specific laser or light treatment alone that can help the acne scars or cystic acne, so providers use a variety of light and laser therapies to treat acne, acne cysts, acne nodules, blackheads, and whiteheads. For this reason, different types of lasers and light treatments are used to treat acne.
Also, it is essential to note that the following explains what the different lasers and lights may and may not treat.
● Blue, red, and blue + red light devices: Visible light and colors that can treat pimples. Visible light is ineffective against blackheads, whiteheads, acne cysts, or nodules.
● At-home devices: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved some visible-light LED devices (blue, red, and blue + red light devices). However, these devices are less powerful compared to the ones that providers use, as this visible light may only treat pimples.
● Although there is no way to know who will see results from this type of treatment, giving it a try and using it twice a day may show some results. Also, some devices need to be used for 4-5 weeks, for 30 to 60 minutes, and used twice a day.
● Infrared light: The U.S FDA has approved this type of light to treat pimples, including those developing on the back. However, infrared light cannot treat blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, or nodules.
● Photodynamic therapy (PDT): This solution makes the skin more sensitive to light which will then be applied to those who have acne-prone skin. Between 15 minutes and 3 hours, the solution must sit on the skin to be followed by using a laser or light device to treat the dermatologist’s skin. On a side note, PDT therapy shows great promise in helping to treat severe acne, which some patients with acne cysts have been clear for years after receiving PDT from a dermatologist.
● Photopneumatic therapy: This treatment is a combination of an intense pulsed light (IPL) laser and a gentle vacuum. This treatment helps remove excess oil and dead skin cells from the clogged pores and is also FDA-approved to treat blackheads, whiteheads, and some pimples. However, this treatment cannot treat acne nodules or cysts.
What To Expect From Laser Treatment?
Some lifestyles may need to be changed to prepare for laser treatments for acne scars. The preparation includes the following:
● Before the procedure, there should be no aspirin or blood-thinning supplements for two weeks.
● For at least two weeks, patients should not smoke.
● And two weeks prior to the treatment, patients should not use skin care products that contain retinol.
On a case-by-case basis, patients may need to stop their acne treatment medications ahead of laser treatment temporarily. The dermatologist may prescribe a preventive antibiotic medication if patients are prone to cold sores. Also, it’s a must to have realistic expectations before any cosmetic procedure.
What Are The Post-Care Instructions?
After the laser treatment, skincare must be observed in the weeks and months as the skin becomes unsafe to damage from the sun, so applying sunscreen before leaving the house is a must. A patient must also avoid tanning or other activities that lead to extensive sun exposure for 6 to 8 weeks. Moreover, doctors may also give special skincare instructions to help maximize the effects of the treatment, like using a special toner or moisturizer.
More importantly, keeping the treated area clean is crucial to prevent infection, although it is important to expect the skin to have residual redness for days or even weeks. On the other hand, patients may need to avoid wearing makeup for a week or more until the risk of complications has passed. Also, the results of this treatment won’t be visible right away but wait within 7 to 10 days to see how well the treatment worked to reduce the appearance of acne scars, but the treatment results are permanent.
Is Laser Treatment Safe?
Like any other treatment, laser treatments didn’t come without risks and side effects when treating acne scars or cystic acne. However, these side effects will vary according to the laser used, skin type, and several treatments needed. The usual side effects include redness, swelling, and pain in the treated area.
The good news is the pain from laser treatment for acne scars is usually gone after an hour or two, while redness can take up to 10 days to subside. Also, some side effects may include hyperpigmentation and infection, but these conditions are rare and often preventable. So, it’s important to speak to the doctor, nurse practitioner or dermatologist about the risk factors before proceeding with treatment.
The Bottom Line
As cystic acne can feel like the worst, most frustrating thing in the world, there’s always one more thing one can try. Delle Chiaie Cosmetic Medicine has your back offering different acne treatments to help you resolve and prevent future breakouts. With their highly specialized clinicians, they will take a close look at what products you’re using, how you’re using them, prescriptions, allergy testing, nutritional deficits, and create a plan not just to treat your skin but treat the “whole” you.