While the vast majority of acne scars patients are in their teens or early 20s, it’s also becoming more common to see older patients suffering from devastating breakouts. The best thing to do is attack the problem early, in order to prevent lifelong issues, like scarring and pigment alterations. Topical medications like retinoids and anti-bacterial creams are the foundation of most acne treatment regimens. Oral medications like antibiotics and Accutane are generally reserved for moderate to severe forms, although many times, hormonal imbalances need to be ruled out first. More recently, lasers, chemical peels and light therapies have been utilized to improve results and treatment times. Scarring, in particular, has become a significant concern, but countless patients around the country have benefited from procedures like the Laser Genesis.
Laser Genesis is the commercial name for the ND:YAG laser. The ND:YAG has a host of uses, ranging from treating prominent veins and removing unwanted hair to improving fine lines and wrinkles.
Laser Genesis delivers micro-pulses of laser energy to your skin, sparking a cascade of changes. The main mechanism involves “bulk heating,” which warms the dermis (deeper layer of the skin) without damaging the epidermis (the superficial layer of the skin that protects you from all the harmful pollutants in the environment). Because the epidermis is spared, the patient doesn’t suffer from the extended downtime many more aggressive lasers cause.
The procedure helps to activate collagen remodelling, and it even improves the appearance of facial redness and brown spots. Anecdotally, we’ve seen patients note an improvement in acne due to a decrease in oil production and pore size, and a significant improvement in acne scarring (via the collagen stimulation).
Think of the feeling of the first few drops of warm oil when you’re at a spa. Because the mechanism is bulk heating, the handpiece is quickly moved around different parts of the face. In this way, the patient experiences a relaxing, warm sensation without the sharp sting of most lasers. Depending on the patient and the aggressiveness of the dermatologist, one can usually expect to receive between 1,000 to 2,500 pulses per area.
Most patients see some mild benefit after the first treatment, but we generally recommend four to six treatments to keep the skin remodelled to its optimal level. Usually, the “wow” moment happens after the third or fourth treatment. For some deeper scars (acne or otherwise), patients may require more treatments, but it all depends on how old and deep the scar is.
The ND:YAG laser is one of the few lasers known to be safe for all skin types. As a dermatologist, the biggest challenge with darker skin types is many more aggressive lasers (like the CO2 and some fractional lasers) leave patients with hyperpigmentation. This can be permanent. Patients with acne (mild to moderate), acne scars or large pores — or even those who just want the “fresh” look — can benefit from undergoing this. It’s become pretty popular with actors and actresses for quick touch-ups prior to red carpet events, as well as with patients coming in before engagements, weddings or other large events.
What are the side effects? Patients may have redness for a day or two after the treatment due to the heat applied. But more commonly, the redness fades within a few hours.