Acne is a common inflammatory skin condition characterised by blemishes that can occur in your face, neck, back, shoulders, and chest. Contrary to common belief, acne does not just present during puberty but also in adulthood as well.
There are different grades of acne, typically classified as Grade 1 to Grade 4. Starting as just comedones which can be closed (whiteheads) or opened (blackheads) to simple popular lesions to cystic lesions that can be disfiguring. They become persistent, painful, and unflattering. This is why having acne can affect a person’s self-esteem. Although there are available treatments that have been proven to be effective, severe acne can leave a scar behind and cause emotional distress., so it is important to seek treatment for acne as early as possible.
Acne is a medical condition and is a disease of the pilosebaceous unit of the skin, commonly referred to as pores that you can see and the oil glands beneath. For your skin to keep its lubrication and prevent it from becoming dry, your body depends on glands that secrete an oily or waxy substance called sebum. These glands aptly called sebaceous glands can be found just under the skin surface. The sebum seals in the skin’s moisture. It can also be found in our hair to keep them from drying out.
The sebaceous gland is attached to hair follicles where sebum travels through and out into the pores onto the surface of the skin. When the body produces oil that is of ‘bad’ quality, and the shedding of the dead skin cells become disorganised, Propionibacterium acnes or P.acne bacteria overgrow. This inflammatory response leads to a downward spiralling disease process causing inflammation and destruction to the normal collagen of the skin.
The overproduction of sebum in the skin is usually associated with hormonal changes, especially with the rise of androgen (testosterone) levels. Testosterone occurs in women too, contrary to common belief. This is especially so in a common condition called PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in women. Hormonal changes also occur during pregnancy and sometimes causes an onset of acne as well.
High levels of androgen cause the sebaceous glands to grow larger, increasing oil production that can clog up the glands and pores and serve as ‘food’ for the P.acne bacteria. Other factors that can contribute to the development of acne include genetic susceptibility, bacterial growth, certain medications that cause adverse skin reactions, diet and nutrition, and stress.
Depending on the severity of pore-clogging and inflammation, acne can appear in different types such and can occur for a few various reasons. Some acne can be easy to get rid of and some can be a bit challenging to eliminate compared to others.
Comedones - these are hair follicles that have become clogged with oil, dead skin, and bacteria that can make the skin look raised and cause bumps. They are further classified into types depending on the pores are clogged on the skin surface:
The two treatment modalities at our clinic are the Neogen™ Plasma Skin Regeneration, and Gold PTT Acne Treatment. More information on both procedures will be shared during your consultation with Dr Lee Mun Heng, as well as a recommendation of which is more suitable for you after an assessment.
The Gold PTT Acne Treatment is latest inclusion in Cambridge to aid with active acne, sebum control and pore reduction.
To start off, the pores will be thoroughly cleaned out with an Aquajet Microdermabrasion Facial to gently unclog the pores.
A layer of gold-coated silica nanoparticles will then be applied and carefully massaged into each pore using ultrasonic waves from the LDM® tech.
This is then followed by the fastest skin laser available, the PICO laser, to activate the Gold PTT, destroying the sebaceous glands without damaging any of the surrounding tissues.
Low-level laser therapy will then be used to promote a speedy recovery.
Photothermal Therapy (PTT) is the use of electromagnetic radiation to heat particulate molecules to allow them to deal localised heat damage to the targeted area without dealing collateral damage to the surrounding tissues.
This treatment entails the use of 24K Gold Nanoparticles to destroy excess sebaceous glands that lead to overproduction of sebum.
PDT or Photodynamic Therapy was once considered the gold standard for such acne treatments. It entails the use of LED light in combination with topical creams or a sensitizer called aminolevulinic acid (ALA). However, patients had complained about a multitude of unwanted side effects.
PTT, on the other hand, is the extension of PDT whereby the sensitizer is replaced by a photosensitiser (the gold particle) which is excited to heat the specific sebaceous glands. This helps to effectively treat acne with minimal downtime and discomfort.
The technique is adopted from Japanese dermatologists after their research at the University of Yokohama. This an advanced technology in treating active acne that works by using plasma, a highly energised gaseous state of matter. The plasma is produced through the combination of inert nitrogen gas and converted into an ionised gas that can kill bacterial build-up in the skin surface and penetrate the deep skin layers to replace damaged cells and induce the formation of new collagen and elastin underneath the skin. Plasma exposure has also be seen to alter the inflammatory process as documented by Japanese doctors.
Though this technology generates heat that penetrates the skin, it is not a laser. Unlike lasers, Neogen™ Plasma is suitable for all skin types, including darker skin types as it does not react melanin. Like lasers, it is a non-invasive treatment that delivers energy into the skin with the use of a handheld device. It is safe and does not cause damage to the surrounding tissues. The treatment is safe even for women who are pregnant.
Treatment with Neogen™ Plasma results in skin tightening giving you a firmer, more youthful-looking skin, and improved skin texture. After the treatment, significant skin rejuvenation can be observed as the dead skin cells are gradually shed off and replaced by new collagen cells. The skin rejuvenation effects can last up to 1 to 2 years with ongoing improvements and collagen regeneration.
The number of sessions required to achieve best results can vary from person to person depending on how the skin reacts to the treatment. This is usually determined by Dr Lee during your appointment. Typically, each session takes about 10-30 minutes depending on the severity of your active acne and each session is done with an interval of 2-3 weeks.