Pursuing the “ideal” look with lasers

The advent of laser therapy is one of the top few treatments that help to banish flaws such as lightening and clearing up stubborn acne scars – a simple procedure with minimum side effects and foreseeable effectiveness.

A bright future for acne and its scars

Lasers quite literally offer a dazzling solution for many still suffering from acne and its complications! Laser therapy is a non-invasive procedure that uses varied wavelengths of light to rejuvenate the skin. It has proven to be effective in sending active acne into remission. Some highly effective lasers have dual functions – lighten and clear up refractory acne scars. Their diverse functions owe to the fact that there are so many different kinds of acne and acne scars to treat.
Acne can be split to two categories – inflammatory and non-inflammatory, while acne scars can be classified into three types – boxcar, ice-pick . rolling. In order to effectively address our acne woes, there are numerous forms of lasers available. For example, the Pulsed Dye laser is known for its dual effects of reducing the occurrence of active inflammatory acne and encouraging both the production of collagen and the restructuring of the skin, making it an ideal treatment for acne scars. Additionally, the 1450-nm Diode laser also reduces active acne by minimising the activity of the sebaceous gland. This is done by heating it. This laser has also been proven to provide long term improvement of acne for its patients. Lastly, although the Potassium Titanyl Phosphate (KTP) laser has an unknown mode of action, it too is evidenced to effectively reduce active acne.

Types of Lasers for Acne

  1. Frazel Lasers are non ablative that use laser energy to heat up the columns of tissue without vaporising them and stimulate production of collagen.
  2. Carbon Dioxide Lasers releases bursts of high energy lasers that vaporise the scarred tissues a layer at a time.
  3. Fractional Lasers are productive to treat scars and stimulates faster recovery of skin tissues and collagen production.
  4. Lasers & Light therapies help to clear acne scars even severe acne cysts.

Unfortunately, while the sheer diversity of lasers offer a comprehensive means of tackling acne, there are shortcomings to such procedures, as with many healthcare treatments available on the market. Although laser therapy targets the three main roots of acne by interfering with the colonisation of P.acnes within the pilosebaceous unit, reducing the activity of the sebaceous gland and minimising the local inflammatory response of the skin, studies and experiments have concluded that laser therapy has limited clinical efficacy in the treatment of non-inflammatory comedonal acne. Rather, they prove to be more useful in the battle against inflammatory acne. Even then, multiple laser sessions are required in order for results to show, and this may not be financially viable for some. Moreover, results differ between patients and side effects such as redness and swelling can be expected. Although lasers do promise the results of clearer skin, it is unlikely that laser treatment can guarantee a complete clearance of acne.

As such, the treatment of acne is highly complex and requires a combination of treatments. Traditional treatment for acne may include topical creams, facial products and oral medication such as antibiotics or isotretinoin. Chemical peel masks which utilise mild acids to remove the superficial layer of the skin also help to rejuvenate the skin and treat some forms of acne. Another consideration would be light therapy, which is a viable alternative to laser treatments. Photodynamic therapy is one such example. This procedure involves the application of a photosensitising agent to the skin. After exposure to light, this agent will be activated to kill P.acnes and reduce the size and activity of the sebaceous gland. In so doing, there is an overall reduction in the development of acne. The type of light used in photodynamic therapy is decided upon by the doctor and can range from blue to red or even intense pulsed light. Apart from being used in photodynamic therapy, intense pulsed light can also be used to remove unwanted or excessive facial hairs that may serve as a possible cause for acne development in some patients. To lighten acne scars, dermabrasion can be contemplated. As its name suggests, this procedure uses a coarse, abrasive tool to remove superficial layers of the skin in a bid to improve the appearance of acne scars when the skin grows back.