Acne is a skin disease which is pervasive amongst adolescents. As it often goes hand in hand with fluctuant hormones, it is more often than not thought of as a condition which should resolve by adulthood. However, this is frequently not the case. In fact, there are a sizeable number of adults who still have acne! This leaves victims of adult acne in a distressing situation where they are both perplexed over these physical blemishes and left puzzled by its persistence.
Androgens, a reproductive hormone found in our body are the perpetrating hormones that drive the development of pimples. It has the function of stimulating the sebaceous glands on our skin to produce more sebum which is an oily secretion meant to lubricate the surface of skin. However, when the levels of androgens increase, especially at the onset of puberty, an excessive amount of sebum is consequently produced. As a result, this heightens the possibility of the pilosebaceous units of our skin getting clogged by dirt, dead skin cells and Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria. When this occurs, an inflammatory process is triggered which subsequently causes the formation of pimples.
Some run-of-the-mill treatments for acne include topical products that contain acne fighting ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and tea-tree oil as well as oral medications for example antibiotics, combination birth-control pills and even, the miracle pill – isotretinoin. Apart from these conventional treatment forms, advancements in technology have also contributed to even more modalities of acne treatment such as a variety of light and laser based therapies. What happens however, when even the miracle pill or laser therapies do not work to banish acne for long?
What is AGNES treatment and how does it work?
In spite of the multiple therapeutic options that are available for acne treatment, a common woe is the relapse that occurs once treatment is stopped. AGNES however promises to be the treatment to solve refractory acne. This therapy was developed based on several clinical trials that have provided evidence that selective electrothermolysis of the responsible hyperactive sebaceous glands is highly effective in treating acne at its root.
 The components of the pilosebaceous unit consist of: the sebaceous gland, hair follicle and erector pili muscles
Theoretically speaking, all follicles with sebaceous glands are liable to developing acne. While this is true, not all of the follicles are necessarily inflamed in a person who has acne. Interestingly, chronic and stubborn acne has the tendency to occur in the follicle over and over again. This process when repeated will more likely result in acne scars. The phenomenon of acne constantly recurring in the same follicles is postulated to be caused by the scarring caused by the inflammation when pimples form and it is precisely because of the scarring of the pore walls that cause the follicles to be blocked more easily in comparison to normal follicles. Based on this proposed theory, it is thus logical to realise that not all sebaceous glands need to be destroyed or shrunk in order to treat acne. Rather, only the consistently offending overactive sebaceous glands should be targeted.
During the AGNES therapy, a magnifier will be utilised to identify the follicles which are either damaged or blocked. After which, tiny insulated micro-needles deliver radiofrequency energy precisely to the targeted area of treatment. With the offending sebaceous glands destroyed, the production of sebum is reduced and this in turn lowers the likelihood of follicles getting clogged and subsequently inflamed. This way, pimples will not develop.
Debunking the myths about AGNES therapy:
At this juncture, it is common to have various concerns and even reasons to doubt the efficacy of AGNES therapy. After all, it does sound a bit too good to be true! This section is hence dedicated to address some of the myths surrounding AGNES.
“By destroying the skin’s sebaceous glands, wouldn’t my skin become permanently dry?”
To some, AGNES therapy sounds like a rather extreme treatment option of getting rid of acne as it involves destroying the sebaceous glands in the skin. It is more concerning that there is literature that reports the regeneration of sebaceous glands does not occur once they are destroyed. In comparison to other laser therapies which serve to decrease the size but not completely obliterate the sebaceous gland, AGNES does come off as a seemingly more drastic therapy. While it is true that AGNES destroys the skin’s offending sebaceous glands, it is more pertinent to put things into perspective. There are around 2500-6000 sebaceous glands per square inch of the skin. AGNES selectively destroys only the damaged sebaceous glands that cause acne to recur in the same follicle. Hence, even in a scenario where a patient has extremely severe acne, the ultimate number of sebaceous glands that AGNES targets, will certainly not reach anywhere near the innumerable number of sebaceous glands that are present on the face.
Therefore, one’s skin does not have a high likelihood of being permanently dry as a result of AGNES treatment. Having said this however, it is also crucial for one to follow the skincare routine that the qualified dermatologist proposes in order to see the most effect out of this procedure.
“When the sebaceous glands are destroyed, will my skin be burned?”
In order to lower the risk of burning the skin, AGNES utilises partially insulated needles to deliver the radiofrequency energy. The bottom part of the needle is not insulated so as to be able to deliver the energy to the sebaceous glands. However, the top part of the needle is insulated in order to prevent skin burn. In fact, AGNES is equipped with a device to aid in checking the insulating damage throughout the course of the therapy. Should there be a suspected damage to the skin at any point in time, the needles can be replaced so as to protect the skin surface from burns.
“Will AGNES therapy damage our skin and result in pitted scars?”
The special needle that AGNES utilises is extremely small. Hence, the risk of scarring is reduced. It is important however to recognise that as AGNES therapy is a two-part procedure where the pimples are first extracted before the delivering of the radiofrequency energy, the skin will be raw as a result of the first part of the procedure.
“Is AGNES therapy really the long lasting cure for acne?”
Just with the first AGNES therapy alone, patients should expect a decrease of 50-70% of their acne breakouts. Depending on the severity of your acne, the qualified dermatologist will subsequently recommend the required number of AGNES treatment sessions. Usually by the third session, most patients will be able to achieve up to 90% of skin clearance. While some variation is bound to occur from patient to patient, the pool of patients who undergo AGNES treatment all reportedly experience marked improvement in their skin condition. The reason being the need for multiple treatments is because acne does not develop from all of the acne-prone follicles at the same time. As such, there is the need to undergo the therapy not just once especially for patients with extremely severe acne. When the offending sebaceous glands are obliterated, this will then decrease the chance for the follicles to get clogged and inflamed and hence acne will unlikely recur. Therefore, AGNES treatment is an efficacious and permanent solution for acne patients.
Having read this article, hopefully you will be able to gain a better idea of what the AGNES therapy is all about and even debunk certain myths and misconceptions regarding it. AGNES therapy does provide hope that acne is something we do not have to live with. In addition to your AGNES therapy, your dermatologist may also recommend certain topical products for daily use or even oral medications and laser therapies to expedite the acne recovery process. Finally, it is prudent to seek medical advice from a qualified dermatologist if you are interested in undergoing the AGNES treatment for your acne.