Using lasers and lights to treat acne – Does it even work?

How lasers and lights can help treat your acne

In an age of technology, using lasers or light therapy to treat acne seems like a no brainer. However, many are asking if it even works? The idea of just pointing a light at your blemishes and having them instantly disappear is highly appealing to the masses. Unfortunately, the use of lasers and lights has a bit more volatile and unpredictable outcome as compared to other proven treatments. Here is what you can expect if your dermatologist is recommending these modalities for the treatment of your acne bumps and inflammation.

Will you see complete acne resolution?

Using lasers and light treatments alone are not going to completely rid you of all your acne. They should be used in combination with other topical or oral medications as prescribed by your dermatologist such as antibiotics and products associated with Vitamin A known as retinoids.

Does everyone’s acne respond the same way to treatment?

Each and every person that tries light therapy or laser therapy for their acne will experience differing results. It is important to realize this while you are being treated. You may know someone who had incredible clearance of their acne, but as it stands right now, it’s impossible to know exactly how much clearance of your acne will be seen with the same treatment.

Is it a one and done procedure?

Another important fact to appreciate is the duration of light and laser treatment when trying to treat acne. Unfortunately, one treatment alone will unlikely provide as much benefit as continued, repeated treatments extended over a period of time. Persistence is key in the treatment of acne!

How soon does the acne improve?

It takes time to see results. A couple of recent studies looking at photodynamic therapy and acne spots showed that patients treated with this type of light therapy in the study were able to decrease their problem spots by half. The same study showed that if you followed those same patients until 12 weeks after therapy they had 72% of their acne go away by that time showing that it isn’t an overnight process of improvement. Again, persistence and determination in sticking to a treatment regimen is the name of the game.

What are the potential side effects of using lasers and light to treat acne?

Using lights and lasers can at times result in redness, swelling or a burning sensation in the skin. Fortunately, these side effects are usually not lingering, most have gone away within a day or two.  Very rarely it can cause the skin to change to a lighter or darker color. There are many people who try to use lasers and light therapy for skin treatments without proper training. This is why it is important to consult with a board certified dermatologist who has experience with a variety of lasers and light treatments to really get the most benefit and least risk from these useful treatment options.

Acne is a problem for millions of people. Laser and photodynamic therapy is a specific tool that can be use adjectively to treat poorly controlled acne. Being realistic about treatment goals and consulting with a board certified dermatologist will help you take advantage of any benefits to using lights and lasers to treat your pimples. 1)Handler, MZ, Bloom BS, et al. “Energy-based devices in treatment of acne vulgaris.” Dermatol Surg. 2016 May;42(5):573-85.



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