According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it is estimated that 40 to 50 million Americans are affected by some form of acne. While teens do tend to suffer in great numbers, adults of all ages are affected by pimples, whiteheads, blackheads and other related skin conditions. Many adults also carry the scars of acne they experienced when they were younger.
There are many causes of acne, including excess oil production, skin inflammation, hormones and skin cells in the hair follicles that shed too quickly. In the past, acne treatments included topical treatments and oral antibiotics. While these treatments have had success, that there is a growing concern about long-term antibiotic use and the emergence of drug resistant strains of bacteria. Other conventional oral treatments include taking an oral retinoid, such as isotretinoin.
As a result of some of the side effects of oral treatments, medical research has led to other therapies to treat acne and acne scarring, such as the use of laser and light-based therapies. While some doctors do not always recommend laser and light therapies as a first line of therapy for treating acne, it is an increasingly effective method for treating acne scarring.
One of the more popular laser treatments is called fractional laser resurfacing. According to the AAD, this laser technology works by “…targeting damaged skin in columns of microscopic treatment zones which include the outermost and underlying layers of skin known as the epidermis and the dermis.” After the laser successfully removes the damaged top layer of skin and tightens the middle layer, it will leave skin smoother.
Laser resurfacing can be conveniently performed in a dermatologist’s office and can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. Recovery time after a laser resurfacing can take up to a week to 10 days.
For many patients suffering from acne scarring or acne that has not been amenable to treatment by traditional methods, laser or light therapy has become one of the most effective treatments available for achieving smoother, more beautiful skin, free of unsightly acne scars and blemishes.