Acne Treatment Options Provide Hope and Healing

By Dr. Hardik Soni

Acne can have a tremendous psychosocial impact on its victims, and as a result has led to the development of light-based treatment. Traditional acne therapies include topical agents (retinoic acid and benzoyl peroxide), antibiotics (both topical and oral, such as tetracycline) and the oral form of retinoic acid (Accutane). It is important to realize that effective treatment often depends on multiple treatment modalities. While oral isotretinoin can provide miraculous results, concerns over side effects have limited its use. 

Light-based treatments offer another option for those who have tried other forms of acne treatments or are hesitant to use Accutane. There are several different types of light-based treatments, but they fall into three main categories: IPL (intense pulsed light, or Isolaz), Lasers (Vbeam, Fraxel, YAG, Diode) and photodynamic therapy.

Isolaz, one of the newer devices used to treat acne, is a photopneumatic device. It utilizes a vacuum that exerts negative pressure on the pores while simultaneously targeting the bacteria and oil-producing glands with an intense beam of light. The net effect is evacuation of the oil and debris from within the pore, while killing the bacteria and shrinking the oil glands. Most people require a series of six treatments spaced one week apart and may need maintenance treatment every one to three months. Treatment is quick and painless

and performed in as little as 15 minutes. Some people will see an improvement after one treatment, while others may require a series to see results.

The Vbeam laser is one type of laser treatment that can be used on acne. Lasers employ one wavelength of light, while IPL employs a range of wavelengths. The Vbeam is a pulsed dye laser that primarily targets hemoglobin, the molecule that gives blood its red color. In inflammatory acne, there is an increase in redness among the active acne lesions. The Vbeam targets the redness and the net effect is less redness, destruction of bacteria associated with acne and shrinkage of the oil glands. Most people require three to six treatments. The sensation is likened to a rubber band snapping against the skin and treatment takes 10 to 15 minutes.

Finally, photodynamic therapy can also improve acne. This entails applying a photosensitive chemical on the face. This chemical is preferentially taken up by active cells such as the oil-producing glands. The treated area is then exposed to blue light that activates the chemical within the cell, leading to destruction of acne bacteria and shrinkage of the oil glands. Redness and peeling can occur after the treatment and strict sun avoidance is imperative.

These are just some of the available light-based treatments for acne. A combination of traditional acne treatments and light-based treatments can provide beautiful, clearer skin, a result we all desire.

Dr. Hardik Soni is the owner of Ethos Spa in Summit, NJ ( He is also a member of the BELLA Advisory Board.


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