TRIAL AND ERROR continued...
Recently I was searching the Internet and read about Isolaz, a new procedure
developed by scientists in Pleasanton, CA, in which a dermatologist “vacuums”
and lasers your skin and, supposedly, banishes your blemishes for good. I
became filled with the kind of hope I had when I bought my first tube of
benzoyl peroxide, and decided to book an appointment with celebrity
dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt.
“Cystic acne,” pronounces Brandt, a man with a Willy Wonka vibe —
high-pitched laugh and wild attire. The first time I see him, he’s wearing
lime-green Prada eyeglasses and a checkered jacket, and his bottle-blond hair
is moussed into peaks. He recommends one session a month with the laser for
four or five months. The Isolaz is the only FDA-approved “photopneumatic”
device, meaning it combines pulsed light (“photo”) to kill acne-causing
bacteria with vacuum suction (“pneumatic”) to physically extract oil and grime
from deep in pores. Over time, treatments cause the skin’s sebaceous glands to
shrink, which means reduced oil production and tighter, cleaner pores. Results
are long-lasting, and the treatment is painless, he tells me. Visions of clear
skin dance in my head ... the years of being the only grown woman at a dinner
party with an erupting volcano on her cheek are over. At $500 a session, they’d
First a nurse positions a steamer over my face, just as a facialist would.
After 20 humid minutes, I’m rosy and sweaty, and Brandt wheels in the Isolaz
machine, which looks like something you’d use in an alien abduction. He puts on
protective goggles and approaches me with a hose that has an attachment very
much like the kind I use to suck dust off my drapes. But true to his promise,
the procedure doesn’t hurt. It takes less than 10 minutes and feels kind of
like little electric hickeys all over my face. Afterward my skin is red and
irritated, and Brandt tells me to use a special cream from his own line for
post-laser calming. He also tells me to use his Poreless Cleanser, two
prescription topical medications, moisturizing lotion, and sunscreen in the
morning. I ask him if he's joking. He isn’t.
I assume that nobody really follows a regimen this intense, so I wait for
the redness to wear off and my skin to become magically, flawlessly clear.
(I’ve been to Madonna’s dermatologist! Surely I deserve to be acne-free.) I use
Brandt’s products, but I neglect to get the two prescriptions filled. Days turn
into weeks, and still I am a pizza face. My high hopes start sputtering.
Finally, I fill the prescriptions and start dutifully cleansing, applying my
Clindagel, then my sodium sulfacetamide lotion, then moisturizer, then
sunscreen every single morning and repeating the whole thing every night (minus
the sunscreen). By the time my next Isolaz appointment rolls around, I am as
zitty as ever but much more frustrated.