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Acne is thought to be contributed to by a combination factors: overproduction of oil, irregular shedding of dead skin cells, bacteria and hormones. Usually acne is treated using topical and oral medications. However, for resistant cases alternative therapies such laser treatments have gained popularity.
There are various acne laser options to choose from:
· Blue light therapy: The skin is exposed to low intensity blue light (420nm-450nm) which is believed to kill P. acnes, the main bacteria that causes acne. According to mayoclinic.com, “possible side effects of blue light therapy include temporary redness and dryness in the treated areas”.
· Pulsed light and heat energy therapy (LHE) is thought to help clear acne by both killing P. acnes and shrinking sebaceous glands to reduce oil production. Side effects may include temporary redness in the treated areas.
· Diode laser therapy targets the middle layer of the dermis, destroying sebaceous glands without damaging the top layer (the epidermis) of the skin. Pain medication is usually needed prior to treatment and redness and swelling may occur.
· Photodynamic therapy uses a topical photosensitizer such as ALA (5-aminolevulinic acid) prior to laser treatment with either blue, red, pulsed light or another type of light therapy. Mayo clinic reports that side effects can include redness, swelling, crusting and acne flare-ups.
· Photopneumatic therapy uses a vacuum to remove oil and dead cells from the sebaceous glands. The skin is then treated using blue or red light laser therapy to target P. acnes and kill the acne causing bacteria and reduce redness. One of the benefits to this therapy is that it is supposed to be fairly painless so does not require anesthetic medication.
Whether laser therapy truly helps clear acne breakouts is not clear. According to acne.org, most of the studies have been on small numbers of patients and lack the control factor of applying treatment to only one side of the face and comparing the results to the other. Most studies do not have long term follow up.