Baylor Dermatology Clinic

Acne Therapy - Laser and Light Options

Two new techniques are available that offer non-medicinal methods to control acne. Both offer the promise of good improvement of acne by targeting the sebaceous glands that play a large role in developing acne. Although some patients may not respond, one key feature is the potential for long-term results lasting years. Both techniques involve only the skin, thereby eliminating any internal side effects.

Candela Smoothbeam laser
Pros: In widespread use over the past three years. Good solid data. Virtually no downtime (1-4 hours of redness). Seventy percent improvement with four treatments on average. No light sensitivity and may be used on any skin type.
Cons: Not covered by insurance ($300-500 per session). Four sessions required on average. Discomfort must be prevented or minimized by using numbing cream (Recticare).

Lumenis One IPL + ALA (medication activated by light)
Pros: ALA application will allow for targeting of acne with an IPL session. No clear cut data regarding effectiveness, but the signs of sun damage also improve by 70 percent improvement with 3-5 sessions. May help to some degree with pores, fine texture and flushing. Minimal downtime (redness for 1 day average, minimal to no bruising). Great for large zones. 20-30 minute treatment. We own one of the latest and most advanced IPL systems.
Cons: Not covered by insurance (IPL treatment $300-500/session + ALA $150/session). ALA is applied 1-3 hours before treatment. Minimal wrinkle improvement. Numbing cream (Recticare) needs to be applied 45-90 minutes pre-treatment. Not recommended for patients with darker skin types. 


There are many more conventional options to the above light based treatments. All have pros and cons as detailed below. Any of our dermatologists may offer these treatments.

Topical medications
Pros: Very safe and often effective. May be used in conjunction with laser therapy as maintenance.
May cause skin irritation. Long term therapy required for maintenance.

Oral antibiotics
May be helpful in inflamed or cystic acne.
Side effects include upset stomach, headache, diarrhea, allergic reaction, pigmentation changes. Long term therapy required for maintenance.

Oral isotretinoin (commonly known as "Accutane")
High rate of improvement or clearance. Long term results.
Many potential side effects including: headache, birth defects, depression, dryness, monthly blood testing.