Acne Treatment – Fractionated Laser & Light Therapy | UCLA Dermatology


Nineteen-year-old Barbara is at UCLA, undergoing the latest technology in the treatment of acne. Barbara has been battling with acne since she was in the seventh grade and describes the condition like this: Awful. It’s, you either have–I mean as a girl, too– you either have–because society–you either have, like, body issues, skin issues, when I go into like dressing rooms–and the lighting is already awful in dressing rooms–and clothing stores, but like, that’s what I really notice, my skin. Acne is not a trivial disease. It’s been studied that the effect that acne has on your quality of life is actually equal to effect the effect that asthma has on the quality of life of an adolescent. So, you know people are missing school? They’re not taking the opportunities that they often take, probably a large part because the emotional component of acne. Barbara is being treated with what is called a fractionated laser. It allows doctors to use a highly controlled laser beam to safely and gently break down scar tissue beneath the top layer of skin. The laser can actually promote remodeling of the second layer of skin without removing the first layer of skin. In the past, we had very few treatment options for the scars associated with acne, but with the advent of the fractionated laser, we’ve been able to help a lot of people get much improvement of their scars. It doesn’t feel like much. When they up the setting, it feels like like a rubber band pinch just consistently on your skin. It’s just gonna be really quick, and this is like taking like years of, like, stuff off my face. Acne is the most common skin condition in the country. It’s fueled by overproduction of oil glands and inflammation involving bacteria on the skin. Hormones, genetics, even diet may play a role. So this is a model of the skin, this is the hair follicle, this is the epidermis, and this is the dermis, and this is what we’re targeting for acne, the follicular unit with the oil gland and the hair follicle, and this is where acne happens. 31-year-old Michael Tomasi is undergoing another advanced acne treatment at UCLA, using photo therapy. It was embarrassing to have acne at such a young age, but it was something that runs in my family. My dad had severe, severe acne, and I think it was just very concerned about being very proactive in the treatments from a young age. Doctors apply a layer of what’s called levulinic acid. Then Michael is exposed to about 15 minutes of intense blue light. So the levulinic acid is taken up by your skin cells, and the blue light activates the levulinic acid, and it works as an anti-inflammatory to treat those red bumps, but it also kills the bacteria that causes acne. So far, so good. You know, my skin looks definitely better. Most acne can be treated without a doctor’s care, but for the rest, Dr. Kim says there is no reason not to get help. My best advice would be to try the over-the-counter remedies for acne, but don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a dermatologist because there are many treatment options available.