I was first diagnosed with acne when I was in high school. As a female in my early thirties, I still have periodic breakouts, albeit far less frequent or severe. Having acne weighs on you. It affects your confidence and makes you question what you should be doing differently. Any time you see a new blemish, you play detective to ascertain the cause. Did I consume the wrong food? Did I wear an occlusive makeup? Did I not change my pillowcase? For people who don’t suffer from regular acne, they may not understand the struggle, but even leaving the house can feel daunting when you have a face full of blemishes. Wearing makeup daily can became routine and cancelling plans out of embarrassment a commonplace occurrence. For those who don’t feel comfortable wearing makeup, showing their face to the world is perhaps even more intimidating.
To add insult to injury, after suffering from severe cystic acne, I was left with scarring. And not just post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (those dark marks left behind after a pimple heals), I had uneven texture and indented scarring. Far more difficult to correct, scarring can be even more traumatizing than the acne itself. You want nothing more than to confidently make eye contact with those around you, but you are constantly wondering, “are they looking at my skin?”
So, where am I in my acne journey? After obtaining a job with evolv Plastic Surgery & Medical Aesthetics, I have been privileged to try new skincare products and treatments geared to addressing my acne and the scarring that was left behind. With visible improvements, I feel hope. I see changes when I look in the mirror, and I am excited to share with my fellow acne/acne scarring suffers what has helped me improve my skin.
ACNE BASICS AND WHERE TO START
Let’s go back to the basics. What is acne? That question is easy to answer. Acne is a skin condition that occurs when oil and dead skin cells get trapped within the oil glands and hair follicle resulting in an infection. What causes acne? This question is far more difficult to answer and can cause frustration for acne sufferers everywhere. Things like genetics, diet, lifestyle and hormones can all play a role, but not all cases of acne are created equally. One thing is for certain – acne affects us, not just physically but emotionally. Whether it be moderate or more severe, acne can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and even depression.
The first step is to see a skincare professional who can diagnose your individualized skin type and concerns. Did you know that rosacea, a common skin condition that can cause redness and swollen bumps, can often be mistaken for acne? Schedule a consultation with a Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon to establish your skin condition and start developing a plan of action.
Once diagnosed, it is important to note that acne does not resolve quickly. You need to give yourself and your skin a chance to heal. It can take 4-8 weeks to notice a marked improvement in your skin once you start an oral or topical medication and/or treatment program. Be patient because these medications can cause reaction like dryness, redness and flaking.
Topical products that contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and tea tree oil have all been known to help clam and clear the skin. You see many of these ingredients in over-the-counter (OTC) products, but it is best to see a professional to ensure that you are receiving medical-grade skincare.
Antibiotics, oral and topical, have been proven to help kill bacteria and reduce inflammation in the skin. If you are female and hormones play a role in your specific type of acne, birth control can be effective. Isotretinoin can be effective in addressing more severe forms of acne, but it can also have some of the worst side effects and should not be treated lightly. A doctor would need to prescribe any of these medications, so if you want to delve into one of these options, you will need to consult with a physician who specializes in medical skin care.
In-office treatments such as manual extractions, chemical peels, and light therapies have also proven beneficial for acne sufferers. If you are dealing with scarring left behind from acne, chemical peels, microneedling options, and laser-based therapies can yield dramatic improvements. Like anything, however, it takes time to see change in the skin, and you must be patient. Trained skincare specialists, referred to as licensed aestheticians, can perform most of these treatments, depending upon the state in which you reside. In Ohio, laser-based therapies need to be performed by physicians. Our trained aestheticians at evolv can recommend a comprehensive skincare regimen and treatment program tailored specifically to you and your unique skincare concerns.
WHAT HAS WORKED FOR ME?
Except for Isotretinoin (Accutane), I have tried almost every possible acne therapy under the sun. You need to figure out what ingredients work well for you, but I respond very well to ZO Skin Health products, a medical-grade skincare line that can actually change the skin on a cellular level. Evolv Medical Aesthetics believes that a personalized skin care plan to restore and improve optimal health is the most effective way to treat and prevent acne. I am lucky to have an aesthetician who can tweak my regimen as needed and make additional recommendations based upon how my skin is behaving.
As for treatments, I feel like my results have been cumulative. Combining at-home skincare with treatments in the office (microneedling, chemical peels and laser therapy), I have seen visible improvements in my skin. I notice smoother skin and a healthy radiance I have never been able to achieve before. I still have redness, because I have also been blessed with rosacea, but my skin clarity and texture are also markedly improved.
My acne and acne scarring journey is not over. I don’t know if it will ever be over. I feel very lucky to be where I am, as a part of the evolv family. I want to continue to share with you what is working for me and my skin. If I am able to help even one person feel more confident in their own skin, I will count it a great success. If you are suffering from acne or acne scarring, you are not alone. You are part of a much bigger family than you realize, and we are here for you. If you want to start discussing options, call the office to learn more!
Restoring and optimizing skin health is a passion of ours at evolv Plastic Surgery and Medical Aesthetics. We believe in and have experienced the power of improving skin health and appearance to significantly benefit the quality of life for patients. That is why science-based and personalized medical skin care is a fundamental component of all of our aesthetic programs.
New science and research in skin physiology have created exciting opportunities and hope for the care of acne-prone patients. Acne is a complex and multi-factorial disease that requires thorough evaluation by a professional and, consequently, may require comprehensive treatment.
Light Therapy – Light emitting diodes (LED) have been FDA approved for directly reducing acne-causing bacteria in the skin as well as reducing the disturbing redness and inflammation associated with acne pimples and infections. LED light treatment for acne is extremely effective, painless and without any significant side effects.
Medical Skin Care – ZO Skin Health leads the industry in innovative, evidence-based skin care. Their unique product formulations for acne prevention and reduction work through the fundamentals of skin cleansing, reducing oil production and inflammation, and actually result in healthier skin. Proper skin peels are also an essential benefit for acne prone skin and are incorporated in treatment protocols.
Nutrition/Supplements – Acne is an inflammatory disease, as are the majority of skin and health problems. Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet is fundamental to skin health. In addition, novel skin health supplements have been developed, combining specific vitamins with plant-based phytonutrients (Skin Accumax), that can significantly reduce acne outbreaks and supplement the diet.
Acne Scar Treatment – Although the majority of acne scars are permanent, they can be significantly improved by new technology utilizing laser energy, collagen induction therapy with micropen procedures like the Eclipse, non-surgical radiofrequency such as Infini, injectables, fat grafting and other exciting, research-based services.
We encourage you to explore these safe and effective options with our professional staff.
The use of chemical peels to reduce the signs of aging and to improve skin quality is a safe and extremely effective technique when performed by experienced medical professionals. In addition to improving texture and tone, while reducing uneven pigmentation and wrinkling, peels are also very effective in treating acne, rosacea (facial redness), large pores and melasma.
Chemical peels utilize a medical acid or enzyme to allow deeper exfoliation or removal of the outer
layers of the skin and to simultaneously stimulate the growth of new cells for replacement. Chemical peels are categorized based on the depth of the exfoliation: superficial, medium or deep.
Superficial and medium depth peels are most popular, and are usually performed by a qualified aesthetician in the office. Although the more superficial peels will not correct deep wrinkles or skin laxity, they can significantly improved texture, pigmentation irregularity and overall skin health and appearance.
Deeper peels should be done by an experienced physician and can be performed in the office or in surgery in conjunction with other aesthetic procedures. In addition to improving deeper wrinkles, acne scars and skin laxity, deeper peels can reduce skin cancer risk in patients with a history of excessive sun exposure.
So why do you need to peel? It may be surprising to learn that your skin reaches a relatively inactive phase after age 30, with progressively decreased cellular function, and an increase in the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Along with a proven daily skin care regimen, appropriate chemical skin peeling is essential to optimize skin health and youthfulness after our younger years. This is because as we age, we no longer spontaneously shed the more aged and damaged surface cells and their progressive accumulation results in dull, dry and prematurely aged skin. Finally, it is important to emphasize that the most effective peels not only loosen and help remove the outer skin layers, but also stimulate the deeper layers (called the dermis) that result in increased collagen, elastin and growth factor production.
At evolv medical aesthetics, we have over 25 years experience with medical skin care and skin peeling. If you are looking to create real improvements in your skin’s health and appearance, we encourage you to work with our team to develop a personalized skin care program – a great time to do this would be on our Spring Peel Days on April 14th and 15th!