ARE THERE OTHER WAYS TO TREAT ACNE?
ABSOLUTELY! We provide our treatments to the many many people who have “been there – done that.” If you haven’t tried “simpler” methods to treat your acne (mail order, dietary resistrictions, prescriptions,) those may very well be the place to start! But, if you’ve tried those options and still struggle – we’re here for you!
HOW MUCH IMPROVEMENT WILL I GET?
Most clients get a 75-85% improvement in their acne, after a series of treatments. However, this can vary from person to person. Generally, we tell our clients not to expect more than a 50% improvement in acne scarring. This varies on the severity, type, and depth of the scarring, as well as the type of treatment done, the number of treatments, the person’s individual skin, and other variables.
DO THE TREATMENTS HURT?
Most of the treatments have a mild “prickling” sensation. A topical anesthetic is available at no charge.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
6-9 treamtents is average for optimal acne improvement. 3-4 treatments is average for acne scars. Optimal improvement usually takes a few months.
ARE LASER TREATMENTS FOR ACNE AND ACNE SCARRING SAFE?
Laser treatments, generally, have an excellent safety profile – However, some have more risks than others. Dr. Chavez was an Emergency Medicine physician for 10 years before starting Clearwaves Medical Laser Group. Her focus is always on safety, and doesn’t feel that it’s “worth” doing a cosmetic treatment if it could sacrifice health. She has always chosen lasers (or other cosmetic devices) with the combined highest safety record and highest effectiveness available.
HOW LONG HAS DR. CHAVEZ BEEN TREATING ACNE WITH LASERS?
Dr. Chavez started Clearwaves Medical Laser Group in 2004. Initially, she focused purely on laser acne treatments. Her goal was to provide long term acne relief without using potentially harmful prescription medications, creams, or other treatments that put a “bandaid” on the problem. We have treated thousands of clients over the many years – and focus on the best technology available to get the most impressive and longest lasting results!
WILL INSURANCE PAY FOR THE TREATMENTS?
Insurance companies have classified these types of treatments as “cosmetic”, and, therefore do not pay for the treatments. However, flexible spending accounts / medical savings accounts DO generally pay for the treatments. Check with your FSA/MSA to verify, however (a few specifically exclude cosmetic procedures).
WHAT LASERS DO YOU USE TO TREAT ACNE?
We have used MANY lasers/light-based devices over the years, to treat acne. Here are details about the two medical devices we’ve used the longest – our “tried and true” – with the pros and cons of each:
We’ve used this laser since 2004, and, of the numerous lasers we’ve used to treat acne, the Smoothbeam remains one of Dr. Chavez’s favorites. It is frequently the best for deep, cystic acne, and works wonderfully as a “spot treatment” to help pimples go away quickly (instead of painful and risky steroid injections.)
No downtime (generally, there’s no significant redness, no peeling, or any other sign that you’ve had a treatment.)
Quick, impressive and long lasting results for most clients
Spot treatments can be done to help large pimples go away faster, minimizing the risk for leaving a dark spot or a scar.
A little discomfort (like a grain of sand hitting your skin on a windy day.)
Can cause dark spots, particularly on dark skin or sun exposed skin (this varies in duration it can last weeks to months or longer.)
PhotoDynamic Therapy (PDT)
We’ve also used the the “PDT” (Photodynamic Therapy) since 2004. It’s wonderfully safe for all skin types, and provides a lot of scheduling flexibility. However, there is a little “downtime”…
Safe for all skin types
More flexibility regarding how far apart treatments can be (can be a few months apart, if needed, and still get good results. This is especially helpful for our out-of-town clients, or for clients who like to spread payments farther apart!)
Long-lasting results for most clients (equal to the Smoothbeam, for most clients)
Downtime (you can’t go outside during daylight hours for at least 36 hours after the treatment.) Most people do the treatment late Friday afternoons, so that they only “miss” one day, Saturday, of going outside. Even with sunblock, you can get a sunburn within minutes of being exposed to sunlight or bright light – even through a window. However, you can go outside at night or before the sun comes up!
You may be red (like a sunburn) for several days after the treatment. This is generally not severe, but the degree of redness varies with skin sensitivity and skin type (clients with light skin, who tend to burn easily, tend to get more red. Clients who generally don’t burn, tend not to get red.) In extreme cases, you may have swelling and/or peeling.
HOW DO LASER ACNE SCAR TREATMENTS WORK?
There are a few different ways to use lasers to improve acne scarring. One, is a fully ablative laser, such as an aggressive CO2 laser treatment. Very few physicians perform this type of treatment, anymore, with the advent of newer technologies with less downtime and higher safety profiles. However, in the right hands, and with the right skin-type, fully ablative CO2 treatments can be very effective. Another option is a fractional laser treamtent (such as Fraxel, or many other brand names.) Some of these fractional treatments are considered “non-ablative” (not puncturing the skin), and others are “partially ablative” (the laser penetrates the skin in “columns” rather than removing the entire skin layer.) Some ablative lasers use CO2, and some use Erbium. The Erbium lasers vaporizes out columns of damaged skin tissue, without generating significant heat. CO2, on the other hand, generates significant heat. This heat can make it more likely to develop hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) in the treamtent area, especially in darker skin types. Therefore, especially considering our Hispanic, Native American, and other darker skin types in New Mexico, Dr. Chavez chose the Erbium (ScitonProfractional laser) for her fractional treatment of choice. The third option for laser acne scar treatments are non-ablative options (they don’t pierce the skin, at all.) These treatments are often very temporary and only minimally effective.
HOW IS THE PROFRACTIONAL LASER DIFFERENT FROM OTHER LASER TREATMENTS FOR ACNE SCARS?
Before Profractional laser treatments, there were two types of laser treatments: fully ablative and non-ablative. Fully ablative laser treatments involve vaporization of entire layers of skin cells at a very high temperature. This treatment is very effective but is associated with a high incidence of side effects and typically requires a lengthy healing period. Non-ablative laser treatments can have a lower incidence of side effects and little healing time, but require numerous treatments over many months and have widely variable results. Profractional treatments combine the effectiveness of ablative lasers with the benefits of non-ablative lasers.
HOW DOES THE PROFRACTIONAL LASER WORK FOR ACNE SCARRING?
The Profractional Laser treatment is designed to target specific portions of damaged tissue. By creating microscopic “wounds” within the targeted areas, Profractional laser treatments trigger the body’s natural healing process accelerating the production of collagen and new, healthy skin cells.