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Acne and Acne Scars – Stop the camouflage and start treatment

Acne and Acne Scars

Is acne common?

One of the most common skin problems seen at our clinic is acne. Acne is a pesky problem most often seen in teenagers but also increasingly seen in adults in their 30s or 40s. As it usually affects visible areas such as the face, chest and back, a lot of affected individuals are left embarrassed and traumatised, choosing to cover up with concealers, makeup and high necked clothing. The fantastic news is - treatment is available and can be very effective!

Who should get their acne treated?

Everyone who has acne should seek help to have it diagnosed and treated early and effectively. Unlike the days when most teenagers wait to “grow out of” their acne, most people are now seeking early treatment to prevent the risk of permanent scarring. Most patients are highly satisfied and much happier when they get their acne under control and can once again feel confident about their skin.

How is acne diagnosed?

Your dermatologist will carefully examine your skin to make the correct diagnosis as there are other conditions that can look remarkably like acne. The typical features of oily skin, blackheads, whiteheads as well as painful red spots or pus filled lesions are tell-tale signs. Treatment options will be recommended based on the severity of the condition.

How is mild acne treated?

Special anti-inflammatory, anti-comedonal cleansers can be helpful. These often contain antiseptic ingredients or acids such as salicylic acid or lactic acid. Antibiotic creams or pimple creams can also be helpful in clearing the painful spots. In addition, retinoids can be prescribed to treat comedones and help in prevention of further flares.

How is moderate acne treated?

If the acne condition is not well controlled by topical medicines, oral medicines such as oral antibiotics or hormonal treatments in combination with prescription creams can be used to offer better control. These are usually taken for several months and patients will notice gradual improvement after 1-2 months of treatment.

Can severe acne be treated effectively?

Even individuals with severe acne can be effectively treated and experience a return of their confidence levels and improvement in their social life. Vitamin A derivatives (isotretinoin or oratane) are highly effective for switching off severe acne, and excellent results can be seen as quickly as 2-3 months. These medicines can reduce the size of oil glands, oil production and skin cells clogging up pores and causing inflammation. Low doses can be used to provide excellent control with minimal side effects. Monitoring of a few blood tests during the course of treatment is essential to ensure your safety whilst taking these medicines. The large majority of patients who complete a course of treatment will achieve excellent clearance of their acne and experience long term remission of acne symptoms.

Can acne marks be treated?

Once active acne is controlled, a lot of patients will unfortunately be left with red or brown marks, and even permanent scars in severe cases. This can continue to be a source of embarrassment and dissatisfaction. Thankfully there is help at hand with some advanced laser treatment.

Laser Genesis

Laser Genesis is a 1064nm short-pulsed gentle laser that is excellent for improving post acne redness and marks. It is also effective for reducing the appearance of enlarged pores and fine lines. Firstly, it helps to collapse tiny blood vessels at the surface of the skin to reduce redness. Secondly, it promotes the production of healthy collagen to improve shallow acne scars. The great thing about this treatment is that it is extremely comfortable. It does not require any numb cream prior to the procedure, and does not result in any downtime. Patients are able to have the treatment quickly and go straight back to their usual activities. After 5-6 treatments at monthly intervals, most patients will notice brighter, even coloured and smoother skin, with significant improvement in pore size as well.

Fractional Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Laser

The Smartxide Fractional carbon dioxide (CO2) laser is a powerful laser that delivers columns of controlled laser energy into the deeper layers of the skin, stimulating the production of new collagen to plump up and smoothen the skin, reducing the appearance of acne scars. This is often effective even for deep acne scars that may be difficult to treat. A course of 4-5 treatments at monthly intervals is recommended for optimal results. The procedure is carried out after numb cream is applied, so minimal discomfort is experienced. Most patients will experience mild redness and micro-crusting for 5-7 days. Some patients may appear tanned for several weeks. As an added bonus, texture, pore size, pigmentation and fine lines will gradually improve, revealing smoother and fresher looking skin!

Dr Stephanie Ho is a British trained Dermatologist with over 18 years of medical experience. She has practiced in the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore, specialising in skin disorders in adults and children, skin cancer surveillance, cosmetic and surgical dermatology.