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Acne Treatments: Old vs. New

Experts compare the latest acne treatments to time-tested remedies.

New Light Treatment

Shedding yet more new light on acne care is "Photo Dynamic Therapy", a treatment involving either a pulsed light source or a laser, in combination with a topical preparation known as Levulan. This therapy is approved for use in treating a precancerous skin condition associated with sun damage.

According to Bruce Katz, MD, one of the pioneers of this procedure, it has turned into a powerful one-two punch that not only clears acne lesions, but may be one of the first treatments to offer permanent results.

"So far, we are experiencing three years of clear skin. And it may be longer, but three years is the longest study we have thus far," says Katz, director of the JUVA Skin and Laser Center in New York City.

Katz tells WebMD the treatment kicks in when the light source activates properties in the Levulan that both destroy the bacteria and shrink the oil gland, returning production back to normal.

"If the long-term results studies prove to be true then this is indeed an excellent advance that may work well for patients not wishing to take Accutane," says Jamal.

Goldberg says the treatment is effective, but it can be problematic if patients do not follow the treatment with sunblock or stay out of the sun.

"Sunblock must be on for at least 24 hours after treatment and direct and indirect sun exposure must be avoided," he says.

And, yes, it too is expensive. Treatment is rendered every two weeks for up to 12 weeks -- at a cost of between $500 and $800 per session. Because skin is extremely sun-sensitive for 24 to 48 hours after each treatment, doctors recommend wearing a superstrong sunblock.

But you are getting a bit more for your money: Katz says not only are the results likely to be very long lasting, the treatment also offers antiaging benefits.

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Reviewed on October 19, 2007

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