If you suffer from acne, you are not alone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, over 50 million Americans are affected by some form of acne each year. Additionally, approximately 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne. It can cause significant physical and physiological problems including scarring, poor self image, depression, and anxiety. So, it comes as no surprise that costs associated with treating and preventing acne are estimated at over $3 billion each year!
At Sonata, our goal is to help you feel beautiful both inside and out. To bring beauty, love, light, and compassion to our amazing patients and friends. And to help you live your most beautiful life. We've dedicated a lot of our training and time into developing specialized treatments for preventing and treating acne and acne scars.
We've worked with thousands of patients - adolescents and adults - on solutions for acne. If you suffer from acne, please don't hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation. We will work to develop a customized treatment plan just for you, so you can live your most beautiful life.
What is acne?
Acne, also known as acne vulgaris, is a chronic long-term skin condition that occurs when hair follicles (pores) are clogged with dead skin cells and oil from the skin. If the clogged pores are large, blackheads are typically formed. If the clogged pores are smaller, whiteheads are generally the result. Both types of acne can develop into tender and swollen inflammations, deeper lumps, or nodules. Severe nodules are called cystic acne - extreme cases of swelling beneath the skins surface that become inflamed, tender, and sometimes infected.
It is typically centralized to locations on the body that produce the most oil - face and neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. Although it typically begins in adolescence between the ages of 10 and 13 (around the time of puberty), about 20% of all cases occur in adults - and that number is on the rise. Teenage acne typically lasts about 5 to 10 years, fading for most people during their early 20's.
Acne does not discriminate. All ages, genders, and races are affected. Teenage boys usually have the most severe cases, and women are more likely to develop acne in the 30's and beyond.
What causes acne?
The short answer is that we don't know if there is 1 specific cause of acne, although it's widely thought that genetics is a primary cause in about 80% of people. That being said, almost every case is different - and a multitude of factors can play a role.
As mentioned above, about 80% of all acne conditions are due to genetics. Although there's not much we can do about our genes, it's good to know if there's a history in your family
Acne typically starts for teenagers around puberty - when hormones are going crazy. Both boys and girls produce high levels of androgens; sex hormones that include testosterone. This, in part, signals the body to produce more sebum, which is the oil in the skins glands.
This topic has been debated for years - and unfortunately there seems to be no real conclusion on whether your diet causes acne. If you Google "diet and acne", there are over 17 million results offering about 17 million different opinions! Science doesn't have a clear determination yet, but some evidence is starting to trickle in.
Early research results suggest that a low-glycemic diet (less bread, rice, pasta) consisting of more fruits and veggies and omega 3 fats, and less processed sugars, can *help prevent acne. The more likely answer is that there is no "perfect diet", but eating healthier is generally never a bad thing.
As sebum (oil) clogs the hair follicles, bacteria can grow inside the pores and form whiteheads, blackheads, or even cysts. There are literally thousands of products on the market aimed at killing or neutralizing this bacteria. Some work. Some don't. Some are gentle, and some are more harsh, causing overly dry skin that can be red and painful in some people. As with any treatment, every persons skin is different, and it's best to find what works best for you.
Can stress cause acne? As with other factors, more research is needed for a clear determination. In some studies, higher stress levels have resulted in increased severity in certain contexts (such as hormonal changes seen in premenstrual syndrome). That being said, stress has been linked to a multitude of health factors - so we believe that reducing the stress in your life can never be a bad thing!
Studies have shown that some medications can worsen pre-existing acne - examples being lithium, steroids, and glucocorticoids. Oral contraceptives have been shown to trigger acne in some women, but suppress it in others. Injectable contraceptives and IUD's may also be triggers.
Is there a cure for acne?
Unfortunately, the answer is "no". However, while there is not a 100% cure at this time, there are plenty of steps that you can take to reduce, and even prevent, breakouts. As mentioned above, there are literally thousands of products claiming to cure acne. Common topical products include antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids. Oral antibiotics, hormonal agents, and oral retinoids are sometimes prescribed for more severe cases.
It is widely accepted among Dr's and scientists that gently washing affected areas once or twice a day, or after sweating vigorously, with a mild non-drying cleanser will help. Excessive, aggressive washing or scrubbing can irritate your skin and can potentially worsen breakouts.
Which products are best for you and your skin?
While every persons skin is different, there are some guidelines we tell our patients to follow:
- Find products that are noncomedogenic, nonacnegenic, and oil free.
- Avoid stringents, toners, and exfoliants - these may unnecessarily dry the skin
- Use sunscreen on a daily basis - with multiple applications throughout the day!
- Certain moisturizers can help with excessive dryness without clogging the skin with extra oils
Resolution of acne takes time - any product that offers an overnight or immediate cure is not worth your money. Your dermatologist can help determine which products are best for you.
Our treatment solutions for acne
We have seen thousands of patients at Sonata, many of whom are either currently dealing with acne or have acne scars from their adolescent years. We have dealt with it ourselves, as well. Because we see how negatively it can affect confidence we have worked hard to develop multiple treatments to assist in clearing and preventing breakouts, and reducing scars from earlier years. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation so we can discuss what treatment plan is best for you.
- Retin A - This is the #1 one most recommended skin care product in the world. It improves cell turnover - improving the condition, strength and tone of your skin. By continuously causing this rapid cell turnover, your skin can’t accumulate the dead skin cells that lead to acne. Over time, it can help fade scarring, as well. It can make skin more sensitive to the sun, so a good sun block is a must!
- VI Peels - Helps with pigmentation, clearing current breakouts, and preventing their future recurrence.
The dermal filler Bellafill (formerly Artefill) recently became the first and only filler FDA approved to treat acne scars. This is a wonderful development for the many acne scar sufferers who are looking for something to help this difficult problem. The deeper an acne scar is, the more difficult for devices like lasers and microneedling pens to have an effect. That’s where Bellafill comes in. It is a collagen-stimulating filler that literally fills the pitted scar.
Bellafill contains a substance called PMMA, which stimulates your own fibroblasts to make new collagen at the site of injection. This means that ultimately, your own collagen becomes the filler. In the case of acne scars, this can lead to long lasting correction, as long as no active acne is creating new scars. The product will work best on wide scars, not narrow and deep ones.
Once a scar is treated with Bellafill, your results can last many years. Treatment will improve when you also address redness and surface scar tissue with a treatment like microneedling or the Plasma Facial.
This is the most exciting development in the area of acne scar treatment in many years. If you would like to find out if you are a candidate for Bellafill, please come in for a free consultation.
*Results may vary from patient to patient