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Holistic Acne and Rosacea Treatment

By: Barry Summers, MD, PhD
Posted: April 28, 2009, from the May 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Pustular and comedonal acne. The protocols for pustular and comedonal acne are exactly the same. First, the face is cleansed with a mild glycolic cream cleanser, then hot towels are applied for one to two minutes in order to open the pores. The client’s eyes are protected with ocular shields and the light therapy begins. Two passes are performed over the infected areas, and then one to two spot treatments are performed. If there is inflammation, the client will feel some discomfort in those areas. Typically, there is minimal pain; it is very comfortable and all that is felt is a pinch and heat.

After the light therapy is completed, the skin is cleansed again with a gentle cleanser. Finally, hydrating and SPF lotions are applied, and the treatment is complete. The skin will be red and feel similar to a mild sunburn, but within 30 minutes to two hours, the skin looks and feels normal. Twenty-four hours after treatment, there will be noticeable improvement in the skin tone and levels of inflammation. Clients need to be advised against any extended sun exposure. For normal activities outside, the client needs a zinc oxide- or titanium dioxide-based sunscreen. A gentle cleanser and hydrating moisturizer should be used the night after the treatment. Glycolic products can be continued 24 hours after treatment.

Rosacea. This treatment works slightly differently for rosacea. It still utilizes the vacuum and IPL, however the heat from the light pulse reduces redness by using thermal energy to heat the skin’s surface to encourage blood flow. This strengthens the capillary wall and pushes the hemoglobin in the enlarged capillaries down to lower vascular structures where they cannot be seen. Extreme diffuse redness requires IPL therapy, whereas specific areas of bolder redness with defined borders may be treated with a long-pulsed laser. After several treatments, the client will have reduced redness and inflammation. The protocol for rosacea is the same, except a gentle cleanser is used during the first cleansing and no hot towels are applied to the face.

A noticeable improvement

The number of recommended treatments varies from 6–12 sessions, one every week. Because every client responds differently, there is no way to predict exactly how many will be needed. A general guideline to follow would be the worse the acne, the closer to the 12 treatments a client will need. After the appropriate amount of skin treatments has been completed, the client should return one month later for a followup visit, followed by another visit two months after that. At that point, instruct them to return as soon as they start to get a breakout in order to keep the acne under control. Some people need to come in once a month and others only twice per year to maintain the results.

Regardless of how many treatments the client ends up requiring, by combining holistic nutrition and photopneumatic therapy, most see noticeable improvement in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, less oily skin and a decrease in redness and the number of breakouts within 48 hours.