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!