Talking About Dermatology

When Creams And Gels Fail, Turn To These Professional Acne Treatments

Acne is more than just a minor annoyance. Living with acne can leave you feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable. It can affect your confidence and ability to pursue your dreams, and it can inhibit you socially. If you've tried treating your acne with various prescription and over-the-counter gels, creams and washes but have not seen an improvement, it's important not to give up. There are several other types of modern treatments your dermatologist may recommend.

Acne Surgery

Acne surgery, also known as professional extraction, is a procedure in which a dermatologist carefully extracts the contents of your whiteheads and black heads. If you have some deeper cystic acne, your lesions will be lanced, drained, and treated with a topical antibiotic to ensure they heal properly.

Acne surgery is a lot more than a fancy pimple popping. Your dermatologist will use specialized tools to remove the contents of your pimples without causing additional harm to your skin. He or she will also remove the contents of pores that are beginning to form pimples before they get the chance to develop into full-blown blemishes.

The advantage of acne surgery is that, when done properly, it can quickly clear up the skin and help prevent future breakouts almost immediately. You will probably need to return to your dermatologist every couple of weeks to have the procedure repeated. While the process can be a little uncomfortable, it is not overly painful. If your dermatologist needs to lance a deep cyst, he or she will likely apply a numbing agent first so you don't experience too much pain. Acne surgery might not be recommended if your skin is already very inflamed or overly prone to infection, as it can make infections and inflammation worse in some patients.


If your acne consists mostly of stubborn blackheads and small, surface-level whiteheads, your dermatologist may recommend a procedure called dermabrasion. This technique also helps fade acne scars. Your dermatologist will use a special diamond wheel to buff away the outer layer of your skin. Your skin may bleed, since the outer layer is being worn away. However, when the area heals, the new, fresh skin should appear clearer.

Before your dermatologist begins the dermabrasion procedure, a local anesthetic will be used to numb your face. If your entire face is to be treated, you may be given a sedative or even general anesthesia to prevent discomfort. Following your treatment, you can expect your skin to regrow in about 5 to 8 days. Your face will be red at first, but you can achieve your normal skintone with makeup. Within 6 to 12 weeks, your skin should be back to normal. You'll need to stay out of the sun or wear plenty of sunscreen as you heal.

Dermabrasion works well for many patients, but it can have side effects like lasting redness and infection. Your dermatologist will discuss your risk of side effects with you prior to the procedure.

Laser Treatment

If you have a lot of deeper, cystic acne blemishes, then your dermatologist may recommend laser treatment. In this procedure, a laser is aimed at your acne cysts. It penetrates the skin to kill bacteria within the acne lesion. This helps heal the cyst from the inside out and prevent it from re-forming. Sometimes laser treatment is used on its own, and other times it is combined with standard extraction techniques.

Laser treatment does cause some redness and peeling after surgery, but this generally heals within a few days. In rare cases, the skin may darken where it has been treated with the laser. Most patients need to return for at least several laser treatments before they notice a dramatic improvement in their acne lesions. Laser treatment is effective for many patients, but not all.

If topical medications have failed to clear your acne, don't assume you just have to "live with it." Ask a dermatologist, such as those at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Specialists of Moreno Valley, whether the treatments above are right for you.