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Early Success for Gel That Treats Acne Scars

Study Shows Improvement in Appearance for Patients Who Used New Acne Scar Treatment
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 8, 2011 (New Orleans) -- A gel made from a person's own blood may help to fill in acne scars, preliminary research suggests.

In a study of 15 people with depressed acne scars, the side of the face treated with the gel looked more aesthetically pleasing than the side treated with needling alone.

All participants also underwent a procedure call skin needling that is used to fill in scars.

Also known as collagen induction therapy, it uses small and very sharp needles to create hundreds of small puncture wounds in the skin. 

This releases growth factors and generates a wound healing response, stimulating the body's own collagen production. Collagen is the fibrous protein that supports the skin.

Moreover, the tiny holes serve as ports to allow topical medicines -- in this case, the gel -- to get deep down into the skin's dermis where they would otherwise be unable to go, says American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) past president Darrell S. Rigel, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center in New York City. He was not involved with the study.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Gel Helps Repair Tissue

The concentrated gel is made from blood components that release proteins and growth factors necessary for tissue repair and regeneration, says researcher Gabriella Fabbrocini, PhD, of the University of Naples, Italy.

All study participants underwent two sessions of treatments, eight weeks apart, each consisting of skin needling followed by application of the new gel on one side of the face and only skin needling to the other side.

Analysis of before-and-after digital photographs showed that eight weeks after the first session of treatment, all patients had smoother facial skin and a slight reduction in lesion severity.

Eight weeks after the second session, the improvement in acne scars was even more evident. The photographic comparison highlighted that as skin became thicker, the depth of scars was substantially reduced, Fabbrocini says.

"In all cases, application of the gel enhanced the effectiveness of skin needling, producing a greater aesthetic improvement," she says.

While the work is preliminary, Rigel tells WebMD that testing of new multi-pronged attacks on deep acne scars is always welcome. But larger, longer studies are needed before the gel is ready for prime time, he says.

Risks associated with medical skin needling are generally minimal but can include dry skin or slight skin discoloration that is usually temporary, Rigel says. The cost per session can range from $100 to over $300, depending on the size of the scar and what device is used.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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