Acne Treatment

Acne Treatment: The Glow 3-Month Program

At Glow Medispa we have learned how to manage acne-- out. We love to banish the blemishes. Read on and we will explain why it happens and just how to get rid of acne. Call us in Seattle or Kirkland today to come talk to us about acne treatment in person!

what is acne?

Acne is caused by bacterial growth inside pores in the skin. When the pores in the skin get blocked, this creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. In the beginning you may not notice it at all or you may see a clogged pore or blackhead. Then the bacteria grow enough to feel as a lump. Eventually, it grows big enough to erupt on the skin and then resolve.

what causes acne?

Acne is so common most people suffer from it at some stage of life. Many factors contribute to acne eruptions:


  • hormonal changes

  • manipulating the lesions

  • clothing, laundry detergents and fresheners

  • hair & skin products

  • air pollution & humidity

  • inflammatory foods

  • allergies

  • aging of the skin, decreased epidermal turnover

Acne is often caused  or made worse by products we put on our faces in the pursuit of clear skin. In fact, even some preparations of tretinoin (Retin-A - a great drug to treat acne) contain the comedogenic ingredient isopropyl myristate, a thickener used in many skin care products, though it has been known for years to cause pimples. Identifying the cause of persistent acne despite doing “everything” can be challenging, and it can even occasionally be related to a food allergy.

Acne has an 8-week cycle:

Every pore on your skin is lined with the skin cells that need to slough off. Blemishes (blackheads and whiteheads) form when a pore becomes clogged with these cells and oils build up in the skin. Bacteria then grow behind the plug, creating a pustule. This can take weeks to become noticeable and weeks to erupt and weeks to resolve. Larger cystic acne can result when the contents of the pimple break down the wall of the follicle and spread into the adjacent skin.

what are symptoms of acne?

Acne forms small lumps in and under the skin, eventually forming white heads (pustules) visible on the surface of the skin. Symptoms are lumps, red spots, white heads, blackheads (pores that are clogged with contents that undergo a chemical reaction and turn black). Acne can eventually heal with a dimpling or divot in the skin that results in permanent acne scarring. Acne can sometimes be painful or itchy or both.

How Is Acne Treated?

Acne Treatment goals:

  • Exfoliate dead cells and keep pores unclogged: alpha- and beta-hydroxyacids, chemical peels
  • Kill bacteria that contribute to acne: salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics
  • Promote cell turnover and exfoliation, decrease sebum production, change the skin’s reaction to hormones and stress: Retinols and Retin-A

The Glow approach to Eliminating Acne: 3-Month Treatment Plan

Daily Regimen: (Each morning and evening) We recommend products specific to your skin type to include:
  1. Strong Glycolic Acid or Combined Glycolic/Salicylic Acid cleanser
  2. Acne toner
  3. Light non-comedogenic moisturizer to ensure barrier repair
  4. Evenings Retinol or Retin-A (tretinoin) or our Prescription Acne Triple Gel (contains tretinoin, clindamycin, benzoyl peroxide and niacinamide)

We use only products with pure ingredients and no fragrances or irritants. It takes a good 3 months to change your skin completely, but we usually see an improvement within days to weeks.

Medical Treatments to Clear Acne

A three month program combining these treatments along with steady adherence to the Regimen should eliminate acne in most people.

What Should I Expect After Acne Treatment?

As discussed above, acne is an its own 8-week cycle. This means at any given time, you have 8 weeks worth of acne blemishes already on their way. Treatment tends to speed this up a bit, but expect to deal with healing acne for at least 8 weeks as the skin heals. Over time, the red spots slowly resolve. Any residual red spots or brown spots (hyperpigmentation) can be addressed with laser or BBL/IPL treatments. Maintenance requires continual high-quality skin care at home, avoidance of triggers and occasional acne facials or peels.

What is Resistant Acne? Could I have a dairy allergy?

Over 90% of our patients respond to our 3-Month treatment plan. But what about acne that seems to resist all efforts to defeat it? That’s time to evaluate allergies to products or foods. The most common allergy causing acne is to cow-milk and its products (whey and casein). Often, resistant acne disappears after a strict trial off of all cow-milk products (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cow-milk cheeses, ice cream, whey protein powders and all processed food containing whey or casein). This can be challenging because whey is packaged into so many processed foods. If cow-milk is not the culprit, consider a strict anti-inflammatory diet. If acne improves, foods can be added back in one-by-one over time. This can be difficult without help from a professional. We are happy to help-- we trouble-shoot acne every day.

How Is Acne Prevented?

We recommend continuous excellent home skin care that includes the regimen described above (exfoliant cleanser, acne toner and a retinol). If you avoid triggers and take care iof your skin, most acne can be prevented.

What to Avoid:

  • Picking! It can cause scarring and hyperpigmentation-- which are much harder to treat.
  • Over-washing and harsh scrubs-- this breaks down the skin’s barrier and can cause red eroded areas that do not heal well. Again-- scarring is much harder to treat than acne itself. Acne is not caused by dirt!
  • Sweat left on the skin all day-- exercise heats the body and a warm wet environment promotes bacterial growth. Always make time to go through your skin care regimen after a work-out. It takes less than 2 minutes!

What is Accutane?

Accutane is a very effective drug for shrinking down the oil glands in the skin permanently, thus reducing or eliminating acne. However, Accutane is linked to a series of serious side effects, including bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease, liver damage, depression, and miscarriage and birth defects if taken during pregnancy.

In fact, women of childbearing age are required to enlist in a special pregnancy prevention program before beginning Accutane treatment. More than 7,000 lawsuits have been filed against Roche Pharmaceuticals, which stopped making Accutane in 2009, but generic versions of isotretinoin are still available. There are newer low-dose protocols now, which may reduce the toxic side effects. Therefore, low-dose accutane can be an effective treatment for severe refractory acne.

For all these reasons, we regard Accutane as a treatment of last resort. Come and see us at our Seattle or Kirkland location!

Treatment of Acne Scarring

We have excellent treatments for acne scarring at Glow Medispa– primarily using RF Microneedling with Genius RF and laser resurfacing. Not all acne scars are amenable to treatment, but most are. This treatment uses direct RF energy delivered with tiny needles into the skin– yes! We numb you first! More information on Genius RF can be found here.

The red spots respond very well to treatment as well, and there are several options. Genius RF is great at healing the red spots associated with old acne. The VI Peel and BBL/IPL also help resolve the red spots. Hyperpigmented spots from acne also respond well to treatment with the VI peel and BBL/IPL. Laser resurfacing with LaseMD Ultra is also highly effective.

Each person’s skin is different. We cater the treatments to your specific skin type and situation. If you want more information about treating acne or acne scarring, it is best to come in for a consultation. You can call us or book online here.

What Is the Difference Between Acne and Pimples?

Most people use the words acne and pimples interchangeably. Other words for acne include whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, papules, zits.

Does Drinking Water Help Acne?

Staying hydrated is very helpful in preventing acne, by maintaining a good skin barrier. Dry skin can break down and contribute to acne eruptions. Hydration is also important to maintain the immune system.

Can My Makeup Cause Acne?

Makeup is a common contributing factor to acne. Many skin care products and make-up contain acne-causing ingredients. Make-up can also directly contribute to clogged pores.

Is Extraction Good for Acne?

Home extraction is not recommended for acne– in fact manipulation of lesions can exacerbate the problem and make acne worse, spread more and take longer to heal. Careful extraction of pores by a professional with the help of medical devices and products is safe and an effective way of clearing the skin and preventing acne.

How Long Do Acne Extractions Take To Heal?

Usually, most professional extractions heal over a period of a few days to a week. Occasionally this can take longer if the lesion is inflamed.

Can Acne Be Surgically Removed?

Acne can be treated with direct steroid injection to help ensure a fast resolution of the lesion. However, this is risky because steroids can cause focal thinning of the skin, and can result in scarring. This should be avoided unless there is a compelling reason (appearing on TV tomorrow?) for the procedure. Professional extractions are generally safe and do not usually lead to scarring.

What Is the Best Acne Treatment for Adults?

We highly recommend our acne daily regimen for the treatment and prevention of acne. This includes a daily exfoliation cleanser, acne toner and retinol or tretinoin. Please see above for specifics and additional medical treatments for active acne.

What Causes Acne in Adults?

As you age the turnover of the surface layer of the skin (the epidermis) slows down over time. This starts in your 20’s and keeps getting slower with age. The cells lining the pores need to slough off, but as the turnover slows down, those cells start to get stuck. Once they are stuck, then a plug can form and block the pore, starting the acne cycle. Thus, acne can develop at an older age, even if you didn’t have acne as a teenager. The good news is that our acne regimen works incredibly well to prevent acne that develops for this reason.

How Do You Treat Hormonal Acne in Adults?

Acne in adults can also flare up with hormonal changes. Treatment at this time is similar to that in younger patients. Most of the time, we can treat hormonal acne without additional manipulation of the hormones themselves.

What Are the Main Causes of Acne?

Slowing turnover of the skin surface (epidermis), Clogged pores, Bacterial growth inside pores, Hormonal changes, Manipulation of the skin , Acne-causing ingredients in over-the, counter skin care products, Soaps and detergents, hair products, Environmental causes, air pollution, humidity, Allergies

want to find out more about how to treat acne?

The best way to find out more is to schedule a consultation-- you can do that directly online, call us or fill out our contact form here. We look forward to hearing from you!

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