Acne Treatments & Scarring

Acne is not just a teenage problem. Many people suffer from acne well beyond this age. There are now many medical options to help acne, including correct skincare advice, and topical and oral therapies. Treatment could prevent the life-long complication of acne scarring, if it is begun in time. Acne is caused by a combination of genetic, hormonal and local factors. The bacterium named P.acnes has also been implicated as a cause of acne.

There are many products available to treat acne. Popular over-the-counter options include Proactiv, Clearasil and Benzac. Topical prescribed treatments consist of antibiotics, vitamin A derivatives and combination products. Hormonal manipulation to decrease the male acne-causing hormone androgens is achieved by using contraceptive pills. More serious acne is usually treated with a 6 month course of oral antibiotics. The most severe cases of acne may respond to a 6 month course of an oral vitamin A derivative, which is associated with significant side effects such as severe dry skin and lips, liver impairment, depression etc, and can cause serious birth defects.

For milder acne, a combination of medical grade skincare and topically prescribed medications should be sufficient. Moderate cases of acne may in addition require oral antibiotics and/or the contraceptive pill. If there are side effects, or for optimal results, a course of blue light LED treatments to kill the acne causing bacteria may be beneficial.

All scars are permanent features of the skin, however their appearance maybe reduced or modified by the use of lasers. A big step forward in treating acne scars occurred with the advent of fractional lasers. These treat pixel-fashion (rather like a digital photo) by affecting the skin down into it’s deeper layers to produce more collagen fibres and incorporate the scars better into surrounding tissue.

A series of treatments is required with results increasing for several months afterwards. A few days of swelling and some redness is expected but the skin is intact and is treated as normal after each session. Other forms of treatment for acne scarring include dermal fillers, skin needling and various forms of resurfacing procedures.

At Melbourne Cosmetic Medicine, the fractional laser we use is the highly acclaimed ProFractional. The treatment is fast and comfortable, and we recommend a series of 3-5 treatments, spaced about a month apart, to produce about a 50% improvement in acne scarring. As the skin is sun sensitive after treatment, it is important to avoid direct sun exposure until fully healed.

A Medicare rebate of $349.35 may be claimed for ProFractional erbium laser resurfacing of the face or neck for severely disfiguring scarring resulting from trauma, burns or acne. The remaining out-of-pocket costs may then be eligible for the Extended Medicare Safety Net, more information of which can be obtained by ringing Medicare Australia on 13 20 11.

Cost: $1350 for MicroLaser Peel & ProFractional with Medicare refund of $349.35 if eligible. Optional Healite LED for $50.