Acne treatments often use topical creams that are both prescription, over-the-counter and/or oral medications. These therapies are intended to focus on the main contributors of acne which are excess oil on the skin, plugged hair follicles and combating bacteria, namely P. acnes, and hormones. Alternatively, a variety of laser options are available.
Once acne is under control there may be scars left as undesirable reminders of the difficult struggle. A number of treatments may provide smoothing and resurfacing of the skin lessening the appearance of acne scars.
· Chemical peels apply a high potency acid that removes the top layer of the skin. There are three types of chemical peels. Only a skilled experienced dermatologist should perform a medium or full peel.
Light peel: uses alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or beta hydroxy acid (BHA) applied with gauze or cotton balls, which is then washed off. Cost is about $50-$150 per session and multiple sessions will be needed. Side effects may include redness, itching, peeling and increased sensitivity.
Medium peel: uses various concentrations of TCA (tricolor acetic acid) applied by a dermatologist left on for short periods of time. Cost is about $150-$500 per treatment and more than one will be needed. Afterwards the skin will be pink, turn dark, then peel about seven days later.
Full peel: a plastic surgeon or dermatologist applies an extremely acidic solution (phenol or TCA) to the skin. Deep peels are considered to be serious medical procedures requiring full patient monitoring and general anesthesia due to pain from the procedure. Cost will be $2500-$6000 for a one-time full-face treatment. Side effects can include scarring, swelling and infection as well hypo-pigmentation to the skin afterwards, so it is not a good option for dark-skinned patients.
· Dermabrasion uses a rotating wire brush to remove the top layer of the skin and is used for more severe scaring. More recently, laser dermabrasion techniques have been developed. Dermabrasion can be a painful procedure so “twilight” anesthetic is usually given. Cost is about $1500 per treatment.