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Acne Treatments That Work

Acne Treatments: The Really ' Big Guns'

In the event that your acne is stubborn - or you are developing scars - doctors say there are several "big guns" available to help. Unlike topicals and antibiotics, which work to suppress breakouts, these treatments go to the root of the problem by shutting down oil production.

"When I see a patient whose skin is already scarring I don't mess around - I go right for the most aggressive treatment - and for me that's isotretinoin, otherwise known as Accutane," says Crutchfield.

As he explains, this oral prescription drug impacts oil production. Once the "oil faucet" is turned off, he says, you eliminate the traffic jam inside the pores, and the breakouts stop.

But use of Isotretinoin is not without hazards. It significantly increases the risk of birth defects and has been linked to episodes of aggressiveness and violent behavior. It may also cause a decrease in bone mineral density if used over a long period of time. (Doctors say all of these -risks are rare).

Still, if you're concerned about risks, you may want to pursue acne treatments that use lasers and other light devices. Though costly, doctors say some of these treatments have effects similar to Accutane. and can turn off the oil without the risks.

"One type of laser works like an antibiotic to inhibit growth of bacteria linked to acne, and the other type helps to actually shrink the oil glands for that 'Accutane-like' effect," says David Goldberg, MD director of Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey.

Together, he says, they form the core of long lasting treatment. Moreover, since both acne treatments also have anti-aging benefits, Goldberg says they can be a particularly good choice for midlife acne.

For dermatologist Bruce Katz, MD the treatment that does wonders when all others fail is PDT or photodynamic therapy. In his regimen, this laser-like light source is combined with a topical drug called "Levulan," applied during treatment. He says this combination gives skin a one-two punch that kills bacteria, shrinks oil glands and can offer permanent acne relief in just a few weeks of treatments.

"So far, we are experiencing three years plus of clear skin - and as our follow-up continues it's likely we will find even longer lasting results," says Katz, director of the JUVA Skin and Laser Center in New York City.

Since many dermatological treatments can be costly and insurance coverage of acne treatments is often thin, be sure to check with your insurer before your dermatologist appointment, so you know what you can afford.

Reviewed on March 01, 2007

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