Acne light therapy - 11 things you need to know
If you have already tried every ointment, cream and face wash going to treat your acne, is it time to try light therapy?
Often referred to as LED light therapy, this effective option uses artificial light to penetrate the skin, and can help reduce symptoms including inflammation, clogged pores, and redness.
But what does acne light therapy involve? And what do you need to know before booking a treatment?
1. Acne light therapy comes in two different forms
All acne light therapy uses artificial light, which is focused on the intended treatment area to penetrate skin cells and reduce symptoms. There are two main different kinds of light therapy.
Blue light therapy
As the name suggests, the LED rays from this treatment are visible as blue light and are the most commonly used for acne treatment. The wavelengths in blue light target and kill the bacteria which causes acne. They also regulate sebum production, which can help reduce pore clogging.
Red light therapy
Red light targets the inflammation and redness caused by acne and can also reduce the visibility of acne scarring. It doesn’t have the same antibacterial properties as blue light therapy but does promote healing, as it penetrates the skin on a deeper level and helps repair tissue.
2. There are some things to avoid before having treatment
Prior to your appointment, remember to avoid sun beds, retinol-based products, and harsh skincare products like exfoliants, acids and toners for roughly two weeks. Your consultant will also advise you about whether you need to stop taking anti-inflammatory drugs.
3. Sessions are super speedy
Acne light therapy is a quick, non-invasive treatment that only takes between 15 and 30 minutes per session. Using a handheld device, your practitioner or therapist will apply pulses of light therapy to the intended area. The process will also be painless.
4. There are some potential side-effects
Acne light therapy does not use ultraviolet (UV) light, so the risk of skin damage is usually minimal. That said, common side-effects can include:
- Mild irritation.
- Skin peeling.
However, these should be short-lived. If you experience more serious reactions such as blistering, seek medical advice immediately.
You shouldn’t receive this treatment if you are sensitive to light, have skin cancer or epilepsy, or currently take antibiotics.
5. Finding an experienced practitioner is crucial
Though light therapy is a simple procedure in comparison with other non-surgical treatments, you should always ensure that the person performing the treatment has the relevant knowledge, experience, and qualifications. This reduces the risk of adverse side-effects and ensures you enjoy the very best results.
Use our clinic locator to find clinics and experienced practitioners near you.
6. Acne light therapy isn’t a ‘wonder cure’
While it can be effective for many people, it’s important to note that results can vary from person to person.
Light therapy is not a cure for acne and isn’t recommended for comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads) either.
7. Alternative treatments are available
It may be worth looking at other potential treatments before you commit to light therapy.
- Laser treatment- used mostly to reduce acne scars and stimulate natural healing of skin, although it is not recommended for active acne breakouts.
- Chemical peels- a form of acid is used to remove the top layer of dead skin cells. These are naturally replaced with newer layers of smoother, less scarred skin.
- Microneedling- a popular treatment where tiny needles prick the skin to create micro punctures. This stimulates the body’s natural collagen and elastin production, helping to reduce the appearance of scarring. However, you should note that this isn’t recommended for acne flare-ups, but rather healed scar tissue.
- Microdermabrasion- another form of exfoliation treatment that removes the outer layer of skin. The skin cells are removed by suction rather than being dissolved as they are with peels.
8. Results can take time
The number of sessions you need will depend entirely on the severity of your acne and the treatment schedule that your practitioner or professional suggests.
You will usually start to see results after just one session, but to see longer lasting and more effective results it may be advised that you have regular sessions over several weeks or months.
9. At-home devices are available – but clinics offer the best results
A wide range of light therapy masks and devices are available to buy online, but for professional treatment results it’s always best to seek out a qualified, experienced practitioner at a clinic.
10. Costs can vary
How much you pay for acne light therapy will depend on where you have the treatment carried out, the expertise of your clinician and how many sessions you need. You can expect to pay around SR2,800 for a course of treatments.
11. There are some top tips to bear in mind
Remember to consult a dermatologist to understand what type of acne you have, and which treatment might be best for your skin.
Topical treatments such as gel or cream can also be effective – and can be combined with some forms of light therapy.
Don’t wash the affected area too frequently around treatments, as this could make things worse.
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