What are the laser and light treatments for acne?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD

A v-beam laser (which is actually made to target blood vessels) and intense pulsed light treatments both act by killing off P. acnes bacteria, shrinking the sebaceous glands and reducing the number of inflammatory neutrophils in the follicle. It may even be that the liquid nitrogen spray on some lasers, used as a cooling mechanism, might kill off P. acnes in the follicle.

The same photodynamic therapy (PDT) used to treat pre–skin cancers can be effective in killing P. acnes bacteria and treating inflammatory acne. Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) is applied to the skin and is absorbed by the bacteria. Then a special blue light (multiple BLU-U) activates the acid and causes a chemical reaction that destroys the illuminated bacteria and shrinks oil glands.

From a patient advocate standpoint, it is important to know that many doctors have only one laser. So they have no choice but to use it, whether or not it is the most effective one for the job at hand. Before getting any laser treatment, look at the laser chart which explains each laser and its specific function. Some lasers, like the Vbeam are meant to affect blood vessels, while Fraxel is best for resurfacing and deep exfoliation.

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.