Whether it’s a special cleanser or a spot treatment designed to target the disposal of a few unwelcome zits, products for acne—in the beauty sphere, anyway—are generally topically based, meaning you smooth them over your skin, rub them in, and wash them off once they’ve come in contact with your complexion for a bit. Laser acne treatment, however, leaves things up to light.
Since it’s definitely not as common as a bottle doused with just the right amount of salicylic acid or even that old baking soda paste remedy, a state of confusion is understood. You’ve heard of laser hair removal, but what does this non-invasive treatment do to get rid of breakouts or even the likelihood of them happening? We consulted an expert—Jolie Martin, laser medical esthetician at New York City’s SKINNEY Medspa—who filled us in on the different types of laser treatments that can be done for acne and how they actually work.
What Is It?
The process generally uses light to target bacteria, that combined with an excess of sebum, cause acne breakouts. Martin explains that the process they use at SKINNEY utilizes what’s called Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL), which is known as a Photo Facial. She says that this “destroys the most common acne causing bacteria, preventing future breakouts, and helping to eliminate current ones.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, acne treatments can shrink the sebaceous glands, which would then result in less oil production. However, Martin notes that the IPL process SKINNEY targets bacteria, as well as “unwanted pigmentation.”
“Acne most commonly develops when skin cells don’t shed properly, leaving sticky pore blocking sebum and bacteria. When killing bacteria, your acne will minimize. Any dark pigmented, superficial scars will also be minimized,” she notes.
It Can Also Help With Leftover Scars
When scarring from acne is a main concern, Martin says that the IPL treatment, or light therapy treatments, can be combined with what’s called laser skin resurfacing. The two types of laser resurfacing offered at SKINNEY are Pixel and Fraxel. This type of fractional laser resurfacing is said to stimulate the skin’s collagen, helping with signs of aging and smoothing fine lines.
“A lot of clients who have acne prone skin will combine IPL with a Pixel or Fraxel to get clear skin and then also eliminate scarring from their acne. You can alternate treatments every 4 weeks. The laser provides short blasts of high-energy laser light that vaporizes damaged skin tissue one layer at a time. The fascinating result from Pixel Perfect [the spa’s fractional laser offering] is fresh new skin from underneath,” she says.
Another type of laser resurfacing is called Clear + Brilliant, which Martin says is a gentler approach in which users experience less redness and “downtime.” Because this is way less intensive, if can be used as a form of maintenance.
How Often Is It Recommended?
That’s mostly determined on your acne condition and if you’re only experiencing breakouts or breakouts and scarring. “We recommend 6 treatments and touch-ups every few months to effectively pull deep pigmentation, unwanted superficial scarring, and to rebalance acne prone skin. The touch-ups will keep your complexion glowing, collagen stimulated, and acne at bay,” notes Martin.
What Difference Will You See?
According to Martin, less breakouts and clearer-looking skin. ” If you have dark spots and/or sun damage, that will diminish as well. Overall, you will having glowing and and clear skin,” she claims.
What’s the Benefit?
Obviously this treatment is not for everyone, but Martin explains that laser light therapy is a great non-invasive option that still corrects and maintains. “Topical acne is a temporary solution and sometimes a quick fix. These will help you ween off being so reliant on topical treatments,” she says.
It’s a little more pricey than your average cleanser, and if you have super sensitive skin, make sure to talk to your dermatologist about your choices.