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Advance Acne Treatments

What treatments for acne are available at Doctors of California Laser and Cosmetic Center?

We strongly urge patients to exhaust conservative methods of acne treatment including proper cleansing, exfoliation, benzoyl peroxide, retinoic or salicylic acid topicals, as prescribed by their physicians, before resorting to photodynamic therapy, laser or photoactivated Levulan™ (Levulinic acid).

Acne • Why does acne occur?

Acne occurs for a variety of reasons including an inability of skin cells to shed properly, causing the pores to plug, forcing the oil and bacteria that would naturally escape to be trapped inside. As the oil and bacteria accumulates, the skin becomes inflamed and swells outward forming the familiar whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. Acne is seen in many age groups, but is most common in teens and frequently appears on the face, neck, shoulders, back, and chest.

What systems treat acne?

Doctors of California Laser and Cosmetic Center offers numerous effective acne treatments. After exhausting conservative treatments we offer the Blu-U™ photodynamic treatment. Blu-U is a totally non-invasive treatment.


(Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy)

This procedure is non-invasive and pain free, with full-face and neck treatments taking approximately 15 minutes. The BLU-U acne light works with all skin types (I-VI) and it is just fine if you have a suntan! Blue light photodynamic therapy acts by killing acne causing bacteria.

Blue light photodynamic therapy acts by killing acne causing bacteria.

This light is comparable to other acne light treatments such as the Clearlight™ and the Omni-Lux™, and equally effective. Patients simply sit comfortably in a chair while the light is applied to the affected area; they can even listen to music while being treated.

Patients simply sit comfortably in a chair while the light is applied to the affected area; they can even listen to music while being treated (iPods are encouraged.)

Once the treatment session is over, patients can immediately return to their daily routine. This means no downtime or inconvenience, especially important factors for active teens and young adults.

Acne is estimated to affect more than 80% of the world’s population at some time during their life. In the U.S., billions of dollars are spent on anti-acne medications and treatments, but many oral acne treatments (Accutane® and other antibiotics) are known to have serious side effects. Blu-U acne light therapy is effective, painless, and has no known side effects.

Acne Treatment FAQs

How many treatments are required?

Typically, treatment sessions are approximately 15 minutes long twice a week for up to 10 weeks. It is important to keep the treatment appointments recommended. By following the treatment plan, you'll see maximum results and enjoy clearer skin. For optimum results, a maintenance treatment session once a month is recommended after completion of the initial series.

How safe is it? Are there any side-effects?

The BLU-U treatment is very safe. The blue-violet light penetrates just deep enough into the tissue to reach the acne target. It only affects the P. acnes bacteria, not the normal tissue. Even though there is no evidence of complications, we will not perform this treatment if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How do I prepare for my treatment?

The face should be cleansed with soap and water and free of any oil. Ladies need to be make-up free during the treatment. Make-up may be re-applied immediately after the treatment. We will provide a skin preparation pad to further cleanse oils from the skin. We may recommend a skin exfoliation product to further enhance the photodynamic therapy.

Lasers in the Treatment of Acne

How do lasers help clear acne?

Light pulses are delivered through the skin's surface, targeting an organic compound generated by the Propionibacterium acnes (p. acne) bacteria called porphyrin. These porphyrins are photosensitive and when targeted by light, generate singlet oxygen, which kill the p. acne bacteria that cause inflammation.

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How long should the treatment take?

Treatment times will vary depending on the size of the treatment area, though a full face will frequently take about 20 minutes.

How many treatments should I need?

Dr. Gutman frequently starts with a four treatment course, two per week for two weeks. More treatments may be needed for those with more severe acne.

How long do the effects last?

Clinical data suggests that most patients find their acne improves after two weeks of twice weekly treatments. While many patients continue to improve over the months following treatment, some patients experience a plateau in their improvement. Repeated treatments may be necessary to maintain results.

How effective are lasers in the treatment of acne?

In studies conducted at Wellman Labs in Massachusetts and at a private facility in California, 91% of patients saw their acne improve by an average of 66%. In the most recent clinical study patients saw their acne become 81% less severe.

What will happen in the procedures?

After discussing your medical history, including any drugs you are currently taking, with your medical practitioner, the treatment area will be cleaned and a thin layer of clear gel will be applied. Dr. Gutman will glide the laser handpiece over the treatment area in a brushing motion as the laser light is pulsed safely through the skin. If an IPL treatment is offered, the laser head will be placed directly on the skin.

Is it painful?

Many patients describe the laser pulses as feeling like the snap of a rubber band against the skin, however treatments done over active lesions may be more uncomfortable. Your medical practitioner may recommend a topical anesthetic in order to make treatments more comfortable.

When should I see results?

Patients frequently see results within the first week following treatment. Most will see results within two weeks.

Are there side effects?

Immediately following the procedure patients may experience mild to moderate redness and swelling that will fade in as little as a couple hours to as much as a few days.

Can I apply make up right afterwards? Yes.

If Blu-U and Laser do not control my symptoms, do you have an even more effective acne treatment?

Photodynamic Therapy

Doctors of California Laser and Cosmetic Center offers far more than hope and a prescription. We offer a combination of Levulan with Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).

Photodynamic acne therapy involves the application of Levulan ( 5-aminolevulinic acid), a photosensitizing agent, which is then activated with blue-light. This results in significant improvement in moderate to severe cystic acne.

Blue Light Levulan acne treatment involves three mechanisms of action against acne. Levulan treatment inactivates the bacteria that trigger acne, exfoliates the skin to unclog pores, and the most exciting mechanism is that Levulan treatment shuts down the sebaceous glands in the skin. This is exciting because sebaceous glands are the root cause in the formation of acne so it has a long lasting effect even on severe acne.

Resistant and Cystic Acne frequently fails to respond to typical measures of control. A safe topical two-step treatment which chemically coats and then destroys acne bacteria offers a new solution.

PhotoDynamic Therapy is one of those rare acne treatments delivering what it promises, often more. Used for resistant acne, PDT offers life-altering improvements. Cystic acne, the kind that creates painful inflamed lumps deep in the skin, is a harsh reality for thousands of teens. The psychosocial impact of this type of acne can be overwhelming leading to depression, shyness and loss of confidence.

By the time our physicians recommend Levulan/Photodynamic Treatment (L-PDT), topical and systemic (oral) antibiotics have failed. Although they are helpful in the treatment of cystic acne, they are not usually sufficient to provide adequate control. Left under treated or untreated, cystic acne will almost always leave permanent scars on the face or other affected areas such as the chest and back. An acne sufferer, therefore, suffers twice once with the active acne and then with embarrassing and sometimes with disfiguring scars. Proper treatment brings great relief on both levels by minimizing the acne and thus preventing the scarring that would otherwise come from it. The positive emotional impact of controlling acne is immeasurable.

Our doctors apply light-activated Amino-Levulinic Acid (Levulan, the liquid agent that penetrates the offending acne cells) and then chooses Blu-U light or laser to turn on the action. The activated Levulan selectively destroys acne bacteria and shrinks overactive oil glands which supply nutrition for acne bacteria.

We suggest two Levulan treatments, two weeks apart for initial treatment. Subsequent maintenance treatments are usually required. The impact on acne is immediate and long-lasting. Levulan- PDT is the "big gun" in the war against acne and if used appropriately, will improve acne conditions faster and more completely (with the least side effects) than any other treatment available.

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What is the procedure?

Dr. Gutman or Hoyle will apply the medicine.

Post-treatment instructions It is extremely important that you stay out of the sun for 48 hours after your treatment! Your skin will be sensitized to the sun and you can get severely sunburned. Use a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 even when indoors. 1. You may be red following the treatment for several hours to several days. You may have a sun-burned look for 1-7 days. Light peeling can occasionally occur. Swelling may occasionally occur, especially around the eyes. Blisters and scabbing can occur if you do not follow directions. 2. If your skin stings indoors, stay away from bright lights and windows. 3. If your skin feels uncomfortable or if swelling develops, apply cold compresses or ice packs as needed. Take Tylenol® or Advil® if needed. Hydrocortisone 1% cream, preferably with Aloe (non-prescription) can be applied if skin is puffy and inflamed. Most of the time, pure aloe vera gel is also soothing and speeds healing without the use of any actual medications. 4. Continue to wear sunscreens and a hat while outdoors for 2 weeks after each treatment. 5. Call our office if you experience any extreme pain or unusual circumstances.

Does it hurt?

Patients don't mind the temporary discomfort and redness or the peeling because they see the improvement in their skin and in their lives very quickly. Is PDT the cure? No. There is no "cure" for acne, but there is control. Levulan-PhotoDynamic Therapy offers acne sufferers the improvement needed to improve their quality of life!

Levulan acne therapy can even work in patients who have failed Accutane. Accutane also targets the sebaceous gland but Accutane has fairly toxic side effects. Levulan is a very safe alternative to Accutane treatment.

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