Acne 101: Everything You Need to Know

When you were a teenager, did you look in the mirror and see nothing but pimples and zits? Did you long for adulthood so that your acne would finally clear up and you'd have beautiful skin at long last?

Next thing you know, you are 25, 30, maybe even 35 and your acne is still there, causing trouble. Although people often think of pimples and acne as a teen problem, the reality is that this common skin issue can affect adults as well.

Treating acne can also be difficult, as there are many different types and they don't always respond to the same treatment.

Although you might feel like giving up and resigning yourself to hiding away in your bedroom until your pimples clear up, there are other ways to cope. In-office treatments performed by a plastic surgeon might help you get clearer skin more quickly.

Consider this your crash course in Acne 101. You'll learn what causes this all-too-common skin problem, what types of acne are out there, and most importantly, what you can do to get your acne under control.

What Causes Acne?

If you're dealing with acne, there are usually four things to blame. Acne forms when bacteria mixes with excess oil produced by the skin. The excess oil combines with dead skin cells and clogs the hair follicles in the skin, leading to the tell-tale red bumps and pimples.

Acne can be made worse by a few different factors. For example, some acne is hormonal, meaning that increased levels of androgen hormones end up triggering excess oil production. Hormones are one of the reasons why so many teenagers end up with pimples. Hormones can also explain why women can see more breakouts when they are on certain types of birth control or are pregnant.

Other factors that can contribute to acne or make it worse include certain types of medications, some foods, and high levels of stress. Although you aren't likely to break out after eating greasy foods, there might be a link between a diet that's high in simple carbohydrates or dairy products and acne breakouts.

What Are the Different Types of Acne?

Not all acne is created equally. Each type of acne looks slightly different from the others and often needs a slightly different type of treatment.

For example, whiteheads form when your follicles are clogged by dirt, skin cells and oil. The clogged follicle is closed and looks like a small white bump.

Blackheads are similar to whiteheads. The key difference between the two is that blackheads are open, so that the oil/skin cells/dirt inside of them oxides, turning the pimple black.

If a pimple becomes irritated or inflamed, it usually turns red and becomes known as a papule. If the pimple is filled with pus, it's called a pustule.

Acne that reaches deep into the skin is called nodular acne. It's often much bigger than your run-of-the-mill whitehead or papule and can be more challenging to treat. Nodules can also be pretty painful.

Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne. It's made up of large, deep lesions that are filled with pus.

How Can You Treat Acne?

Often, treatment for acne starts at home. You might begin by using an over-the-counter facial cleanser that contains an ingredient such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. If you're not seeing results from over-the-counter products, you might want to enlist the help of a doctor.

Depending on the type of acne you are dealing with, a doctor might prescribe a topical treatment that contains an ingredient such as Retin-A. They might also prescribe an oral antibiotic to help control the bacteria in your skin.

In some cases, an exfoliating treatment might be the best course of action. One option is Blue Light Therapy. This combines an LED light with the application of aminolevulinic acid (ALA), also known as Photodynamic Therapy.

Blue Light Therapy helps to kill bacteria on the skin. When combined with ALA it stimulates the production of new healthier skin cells, so that skin looks smooth and pimples are reduced.

Another option for treating acne is to use a chemical peel to exfoliate the skin. Often, a mild peel, such as an MCA peel, is ideal for people with acne.

Schedule Your Acne Consultation Today

Dr. Haitham Masri and Dr. Fatina Masri each have more than two decades of experience performing plastic surgery and non-surgical procedures. They can assess your acne and help you choose the treatment that's best for you. To schedule your free patient consultation at Masri Clinic for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery, call (866) 487-3223 today.

Severe Acne and Accutane TreatmentAccutane is an extremely powerful and prevalent method for treating severe acne in teenagers and young adults.

This prescription-only medication is usually taken for a few months at a time, and any other medications or medical procedures are likely to be affected by the medication during the treatment—and even for a while after. Because severe acne can have major aesthetic consequences, many people wish to pursue skin treatments after their course of Accutane is over. But when is it safe to do so?

Severe Acne and Accutane Treatment

While many people suffer from acne at some point during their lives, some get it worse than others. In addition to being painful and embarrassing, severe acne can cause lasting problems, such as acne scars. This is primarily caused by a type of acne known as cystic acne that is very difficult to treat using over the counter medications. Accutane is extremely effective, since it tackles bacteria, inflammation, oil production, and clogged pores all at once. Most people do not need to repeat a course of Accutane treatments once they are done.

The Aftermath

Though Accutane can provide serious relief from painful and embarrassing acne, it does not prevent or treat acne scarring. Acne scarring is permanent and may make the skin appear red and pitted. Scars can be shallow or deep, but they can be almost as distressing to patients as the acne itself, and many people seek cosmetic treatments once they have completed their course of Accutane medication.

Treatments That Can Help

Following a course of Accutane, there are several treatments that can help improve the appearance of acne scars. Acne scars can be difficult to resolve, but a powerful skin treatment can go a long way toward improving the overall appearance of the skin. Here are just two of the options for treatment that can help reduce acne scarring:

CO2 Laser

Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing is used to promote cell renewal through a peeling process while stimulating the body to produce additional collagen. In addition to improving acne scarring, carbon dioxide laser treatments improve overall skin condition and appearance. Laser resurfacing is a fairly invasive process, but most patients who undergo treatment find the difficulty of the recovery period to be worth the results.

Dermabrasion

A procedure that essentially “sands” down the skin to minimize the appearance of acne scars and help them blend in with the skin, dermabrasion is by no means a gentle treatment. The procedure requires a minimum of two weeks’ recovery time, and it may take up to six months for all redness to fade. Dermabrasion is best for wide, shallow acne scars.

How Accutane Affects Healing

Because most skin treatments are ablative and require the skin to form new cells to replace those that are destroyed through treatment, Accutane can affect healing from these procedures. Accutane inhibits the formation of new skin cells and shrinks oil glands, which can cause improper healing, even after the drug has been stopped.

How Soon Is Too Soon?

While it can seem like a long time to wait after active acne has cleared up, it is very important to wait long enough to be sure the Accutane will not affect healing. In the case of cosmetic treatments, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. Most plastic surgeons suggest waiting at least six months to a year after treatment is complete to undergo any skin procedures. The waiting period may depend on how invasive the treatment in question may be.

Getting Help

If you would like to discuss plans for improving your skin after Accutane treatment, then it’s a good idea to speak with a board certified plastic surgeon about your options. The waiting period is the perfect time to research, gather information, and choose your procedure and plastic surgeon, so use the time wisely.

When you’re ready to begin scheduling your consultations, give our expert surgeons at Masri Clinic a call. Our highly skilled and board certified doctors offer a wide range of skin treatments, including those for active acne and acne scars, so call 866-487-3223 to schedule a free consultation at our Birmingham or Dearborn, Michigan locations today.

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