We are the first center in New England to use the exclusive ClearConcept™ Acne Care Program, a comprehensive treatment plan that treats both teenagers and adults. Contrary to popular myth, acne is not solely a teenage problem, nor is it caused by puberty, stress or a diet high in salt or fats. Acne is a multi-factor disorder, and any or all of these factors can be genetic.
While there is no cure for acne, controlling it is certainly possible with ClearConcept™, which has obtained excellent outcomes with individualized therapy and minimal use of prescription drugs like Accutane.
Every acne patient knows that its presence can be both emotionally and physically debilitating, especially when acute and inflammatory acne damages the skin, leaving deep pitted scars and craters. When this happens over a large area, like the cheeks, there can be a significant loss of volume and collapse of skin and soft tissue. We understand that every case of acne scarring is unique, so treatment options can vary considerably.
The ClearConcept™ Acne program combines multiple technologies to improve both acne and attendant scarring (with or without a history of Accutane use). These include:
- Omnilux LED red/blue Light Therapy
- Non-ablative Laser treatment (for persistent redness)
- Laser resurfacing
- Chemical peels
- BelleDerm Clear prescription skin care program
- Local treatment of lesions, including comedone extraction
- Cosmetic fillers
- Why do I have acne?
Acne is characterized by pimples, cysts and abscesses; while the actual cause isn’t known, all acne results from a disorder of the pilosebaceous unit,(see diagram) which is made up of a hair shaft, a canal-like structure called a hair follicle, and a sebaceous oil gland. The oil gland helps remove old skin cells, keeps the surface of the skin lubricated, and prevents drying of surrounding tissues by secreting an oily substance called sebum.
During adolescence, hormones cause the glands to enlarge and produce more sebum. The excess oil normally binds with cells that are sloughed off inside the hair follicle before spreading out over the surface of the skin, making it look shiny and healthy. Acne occurs when sebum production becomes extreme and the hair, sebum, and dead skin cells clump together and clog the follicle causing inflammation and an influx of white blood cells. A bacteria called P. acnes, which is normally breaks down sebum, is attacked by these white blood cells. Pus forms as the lesion worsens and the white blood cells produce an enzyme that breaks down the follicle wall, causing sebum and bacteria to spread into the dermis, the layer of skin just underneath the surface. The skin reacts by becoming further inflamed, erupting in red bumps and pimples. P. acnes also triggers the formation of free fatty acids: irritants which increase inflammation. In more severe stages, an abscess—a pus-filled pocket within the skin—may form.
Although most pimples won’t leave lasting effects, anything that damages the dermis can leave a permanent scar.
Once puberty is over, sebum production normally begins to drop, but for people with acne this decline does not occur – skin with acne can produce 30 times the normal amount of sebum, and P. acnes is found in greater numbers in acne patients. While the densest numbers of pilosebaceous units are located on the face, neck and chest, they are all over on the body, so acne can occur anywhere.
- What does the OmniLux Blue and Red LED treatment do for acne?
Research has shown that light, not heat, may be the key to clearing up problem skin. Omnilux LED treatment is a stand-alone treatment that benefits patients suffering with mild to moderate inflammation caused by acne bacteria. These bacteria produce natural chemicals called porphyrins, which are sensitive to light at certain wavelengths.
Blue LED light is selectively absorbed by these porphyrins, stimulating them to produce free radicals, which neutralize the bacteria. In short, Omnilux blueTM LED causes the acne bacteria to self destruct.
Red LED light has anti inflammatory properties; it helps to reduce the redness and inflammation of acne lesions. This light also stimulates cell growth and tissue repair, promoting healthier-looking skin.
- Will it hurt?
Omnilux LED treatments are completely painless. The LEDs do not generate any heat, so the process is non-invasive and does not damage normal tissue. The treatments themselves are about 20 minutes long – they are similar to lying on the beach in the sun, but without the side-effects of sun damage. You can relax, listen to music or even nap during the procedure!
Mild “blushing” of the skin may occur for those with sensitive skin, which usually only lasts for a few minutes, and you can immediately reapply make-up afterwards.
You may not see 100% of your acne clear, but you should notice a significant reduction in new eruptions in as little as one to two treatments. Typically a series of eight sessions, in intervals of two treatments per week (four weeks in all), are recommended. Since the treatments work with the body’s own natural processes to rejuvenate the skin, that stimulation will continue after the actual treatment itself is over.
Follow-up treatments will maintain the results, although clinical studies have shown that in many cases the effects are permanent.
- What does microdermabrasion do for acne?
Microdermabrasion is an exfoliating process. A precision stream of ultrafine crystals is directed at the skin, removing the outer layer and unclogging pores and obstructed hair follicles. The procedure also improves the effectiveness of topical treatments and reduces the appearance of acne scars.
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Chemical peels are of the most common treatments used for skin rejuvenation and acne treatment. They can quickly reduce the number of blackheads or pimples; improving acne and the overall appearance of the skin.
- What is the BelleDerm™ Clear Home Care Maintenance Program?
BelleDerm™ Clear products are a specialized line of prescription-strength cosmeceuticals that were developed specifically to support the ClearConcept™ protocols by breaking the acne cycle while controlling current breakouts. Since acne is a recurring condition it is important to maintain that positive results with the ClearConcept™ process with a physician-grade, home-care maintenance program. This unique 4-part home care kit lasts for 3 months and is only available through a physician.
The BelleDerm™ Clear Facial Wash contains anti-inflammatory alpha and beta hydroxy acids
The BelleDerm™ Clear Exfoliating Scrub is microdermabrasion in a bottle, using silicone microcrystals to exfoliate skin and open pores
The BelleDerm™ Clear Facial and Spot Treatment contains 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, 3% glycolic acid (alpha hydroxy acid) and 3% Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxyl acid); it is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory
The BelleDerm™ Clear Moisturizer contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids, hyaluronic Acid and 3% matrixyl®. This combination enhances collagen production and promotes wound healing
The four-product kit generally lasts about 3 months, and proper application will be demonstrated to you.
- What are comedones?
Frequently found on the forehead and chin, comedones are a specific type of acne. Blackheads, also known as open comedones (see diagram), are follicles that have a wider than normal opening. They are filled with dark plugs of sebum and sloughed-off cells – this discoloration is not because of dirt, but because the melanin in the skin cells that make up the plug has oxidized. Since it is also not caused by “dirty” skin, excessively scrubbing does not prevent or remove them, and can even make the skin more irritated.
Whiteheads, also known as closed comedones (see diagram), are follicles that are filled with the same material, but are completely blocked and closed. Since the air cannot reach the follicle, the material is not oxidized, and remains white.
Comedones are difficult to cover with makeup or concealer, and applying makeup to them only makes the situation worse by further clogging the pores.
- What is acne comedone extraction?
Acne lesions look like a boil or abscess. If untreated they can result in scarring because they are full of acids, bacteria and other components that destroy the skin. Acne comedone extraction helps to reduce scarring by removing the pus that results from inflammation and infection. Extraction generally includes:
Opening the comedone
Removing the material within
Injecting the area with a small amount of steroid, to help stop the inflammation and damage
Is comedone extraction safe?
If performed by a professional, the procedure is recognized as an effective way to help reduce the damage that acne comedones cause. Remember that by the time the comedone has formed, scarring has already begun to occur. The acids and bacteria will already have caused significant damage to the underlying dermis. This treatment is designed to limit that damage.
- How soon will I see results from comedone extraction?
The initial healing of the lesion occurs very quickly after an extraction and injection, often within in a few days. (If left untreated, they could last for weeks). Initially the area will be a little sore and swollen. Bruising is possible after the procedure, and sometimes the area will have a different color than the surrounding skin. For optimal results:
Avoid direct sun as much as possible; our medical-grade sunblock will protect the area from both UVA and UVB rays. If used twice daily it will reduce the chances of pigmentation irregularities.
Use BelleDerm™ Clear products, and avoid the use of retinoids, blenders, or strong astringents for 48 hours.