ClearLight acne therapy
How does ClearLight work?
P. acnes bacterium produce a natural metabolic byproduct called porphyrins. Porphyrins are light sensitive and as it turns out, exquisitely sensitive to narrow band visible blue light. When porphyrins are exposed to this light (or to a lesser extent, natural sunlight which contains less concentrated blue light), a chemical reaction occurs that is toxic to the P. acnes. Kill the P. acnes, improve the acne. P. acnes literally self-destruct as a result of its own metabolic process.
The process, referred to as Acne PhotoClearing (APC) utilizes a high intensity, enhanced narrow band beam of visible blue light to help destroy P. acnes and clear acne. The machine, known as ClearLight (manufactured by CureLight and licensed by Lumenis for sale in the U.S.), is not a laser, but a specialized halide lamp, illuminating the skin with therapeutic blue visible light.
What types of acne will ClearLight clear?
The FDA has approved ClearLight for the treatment of mild to moderate inflammatory acne. This translates small red inflammatory papules and pustules (whiteheads). ClearLight is unlikely to help resolve blackheads or cysts, minimize pore visibility, or reduce oiliness. We use Bion and other things to address those issues. When the Integrated Skin Care protocol is added, improvement rates increase.
Not all cases of acne are driven by flourishing bacteria, so APC is not going to be 100% effective. Here again, the addition of the Integrated Skin Care protocols for acne will increase effectiveness.
How clear will I get?
Eighty percent of acne patients treated with ClearLight in a multi-center study experienced improvement. In this study performed by Shalita, et. Al and published in Clinical Application Notes ( Vol. 9 No.1), the level of improvement was just over 60% reduction of inflammatory acne lesions at the completion of the 8 treatments. Expect better results adding the Integrated Skin Care Acne protocols.
Who should consider Acne PhotoClearing treatment?
Anyone who wants to use natural methods to clear acne, or is unable to tolerate oral treatment; has sensitive skin easily irritated by acne topicals; finds compliance difficult and has mild to moderate inflammatory acne may want to consider this form of therapy. With an estimated 40% acne antibiotic resistance, APC is an option for systemic drug-free therapy.
ClearLight may be used on any area of the body.
Is this an acne cure?
No. ClearLight helps improve acne or clear the acne. Remission typically lasts between 4-8 months. Assuming one is not using Bion products to help keep the acne clear, repeat series of ClearLight may be required for maintenance clearing. However, using the Integrated Skin Care acne protocol will help to address causes of acne and decrease dependence on acne treatments.
Will ClearLight help my oiliness?
It is unlikely that ClearLight will address oiliness concerns. According to Lumenis, it is fine to continue your glycolic acid, salicylic acid and Vitamin A products. Again, we use other products to address this issue quit effectively.
When will I see a difference?
Plan on 2-3 treatments before improvement is seen. Lack of any improvement at this point may indicate that P. acnes is primarily to blame for this case of acne and future treatments may not be helpful.
Can I take my acne medications?
Visible light can cause photosensitizing reactions. Oral medications that increase the risk of sunburn should be avoided throughout the 4 week series of treatments. This includes tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline and Accutane for acne therapy. Other prescription medications may be photosensitizers. Make sure to inform your therapist about all of your prescription medications.
Are there any limitations to topical treatments that can be used during treatment?
I spoke with the ClearLight product manager and was assured it is fine to remain on topical acne therapy including those that have UV photosensitization. This includes Vitamin A based products (including retinol, tretinoin and Tazarotene) as well as glycolic and salicylic acid.
How long can I expect to stay clear?
While this will vary by client as well as changes in a client's lifestyle, stresses, etc., remission is expected to last anywhere from 4-8 months. Using the Integrated Skin Care acne protocol will help to address the contributors to your acne and help you stay clear.
What is a treatment like?
ClearLight is a painless system. Ten to fifteen minutes are spent under the light for a full face treatment.
What are the risks?
There is no down time, no residual redness, scarring or burning. There have been no reports of skin discoloration due to the light itself (remember that resolving acne may leave some PIH-post inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
Can the ClearLight be used while I am pregnant or nursing?
ClearLight was not tested on pregnant women. Therefore it is not recommended for pregnant women. However, there is no contraindication for nursing women. When in doubt, discuss this with your physician.
What if I have a light sensitive problem like lupus, porphyria or PMLE?
Patients with light sensitive medical conditions should consider other acne treatment alternatives.
Special thanks Audry Kunin, MD at www.dermadoctor.com who wrote this article.
My additions to the article appear in green- Dr. DeStefano