Beauty Inside & Out
Putting the Squeeze on Zits
September, 2008 - Issue #47
Everyone loves the idea of having clear, unblemished skin. But in reality, few people get through life without realizing their fair share of pimples. While an occasional break-out may seem like a crisis, it's a relatively small problem compared to the often unrelenting anguish of acne.

A dermatological condition affecting more than 85 percent of teens (and frequently carried into adulthood), acne produces plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), inflamed pimples (pustules), and deep lumps (cystic nodules). A potentially scarring skin disorder, acne may develop on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Although it often clears on its own after several years, acne may become chronic, requiring well-planned professional dermatological intervention and patient compliance.

The root cause of this troubling skin condition is largely related to hormones, genes and other triggers. "Hormonal imbalance, such as thyroid hormone, testosterone, estrogen, inherited skin types and conditions and environmental factors all contribute to acne formation," said Dr. Kevin Hayavi, medical director of Beverly Hills Physicians Institute.
Hayavi, whose practice is one of California's largest networks of beauty and health care providers, and includes a Valencia location, says treating acne often takes some wide-ranging methodology.

"There is not one approach or treatment that fits all patients. Treating acne requires a comprehensive medical evaluation and tailoring the therapy accordingly," the medical doctor said. Acne treatments, Hayavi stated, can include laser, peels, microdermabrasion, oral or topical antibiotics and skin cleansers and toners. As with treating any chronic disorder, patient education is vital for attaining marked improvement with acne, he said.

Also among that enlightenment: While acne is not caused by foods, it's wise to avoid foods that seem to make acne worse. With cosmetics, it is best to wear oil-free, water-based moisturizers and makeup. Also, choose "non-comedogenic" products (should not cause whiteheads or blackheads) or "non-acnegenic" (should not cause acne).

Far-Reaching Effects
Licensed Esthetician Carol L. Donnelly, owner of Dermal Solutions Esthetic Center in Valencia, reports that acne goes far deeper than the skin's surface: "It can cause embarrassment, anxiety, low self-esteem and self-consciousness, as well as possibly contribute to depression, difficult social interactions, and even an increased chance for unemployment."

"While the physical features of acne are readily apparent to us, the emotional and social impact of it is often underestimated by non-sufferers," said Donnelly, who specializes in medical esthetic skincare therapies, including those designed for treating acne.

The mental stress linked with acne can actually be greater than that associated with other chronic diseases, Donnelly said. She also reports that early and effective acne therapies can help reverse the physical features of breakouts and the unseen psychological and social impacts of the condition.

A veteran skin care expert, Donnelly described the emotional lift produced with proper acne treatment and conscientious self-care: "In many cases, and in as little as one consultation and treatment, we start to see remarkable results, not only from the physical standpoint, but additionally from the psychological viewpoint."

Through experienced dermatological consultation for moderate to severe acne, clients can discover the most basic mistakes in their daily regime and then get on the right track, Donnelly said.

"It really empowers the client when they receive some real answers to questions that they have been seeking for years. Once they get educated and we make some fundamental changes in their daily routine, both the client's physical and emotional demeanor changes almost immediately," she says.

Teen Acne Impact: "Seeing" the Light
Dr. Van Veloso of Infinity MedSpa in Valencia concurs that acne can be devastating, especially for young people. "As though trying to fit in at school wasn't hard enough, add an outbreak of acne to the mix and for some young teens the junior and senior high school years can seem unbearable," said Veloso, Infinity's medical director and co-owner.

For most people, Veloso said, acne diminishes over time and tends to disappear, or substantially decrease, after reaching the early 20s. "There is, however, no way to predict how long it will take to disappear entirely, and some individuals will continue to suffer well into their 30s, 40s and beyond," he said.

Choosing among acne treatments is dependent on the severity of the acne and individual responses, the physician commented. He also noted that typical first-line acne treatments include antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide, retinoic acid preparations like Retin A and Differin, and for severe acne, Accutane.

"Topical applications, such as ointments and creams, are popular but have limitations. They may irritate the skin and do not actually reduce acne bacteria," the doctor said. "While antibiotics may be effective in some cases, they often require long-term use and aren't recommended unless absolutely necessary. Further, some acne drugs have even been linked with potentially serious side effects."

Veloso described a new procedure available through Infinity MedSpa that treats resistant, hard-to-treat acne: It combines light and a special light-activated solution, which targets and destroys acne-causing bacteria, thus promoting extensive acne clearance in just a few sessions.

"Photodynamic Acne Treatment (PDT) is a process by which a photosensitizing agent is applied to the skin. This agent is then activated by a specific wavelength of light, which 'turns it on.' Known as Levulan, it is today's leading photosensitizing agent recommended for individuals who suffer from moderate to severe acne," Veloso said.

The non-invasive method is virtually painless, takes only 60 minutes (for a full-face treatment), and diminishes older acne scars, thereby leaving the skin smoother, the physician noted. He adds: "Not only has Levulan proved effective for scores of Santa Clarita Valley teens, but the procedure eliminates the issue of patient compliance. The scheduled treatment plan eliminates a teenager's need for remembering to follow a daily routine."

Getting Beyond Acne
Licensed Esthetician Rosemary Murphy, proprietor of Beyond Harmony Med Spa in Canyon Country, advises people with acne to use clinical products recommended only by skin care professionals.

"Many over-the-counter acne products are too harsh for most skin and actually cause more break-outs because the drying ingredients trick the skin into producing more sebum, which causes more acne to develop," she explained.

Murphy's spa offers acne facials that include the use of a high-frequency machine which delivers ozone into the pustule to kill acne bacteria. "Acne facials are generally done in a series of six to 12 as it takes regular, consistent treatment to eliminate the condition," Murphy said, adding that the spa does many "back" facials too.

Outcomes are greatly advantaged by the at-home use of carefully-selected dermatological products, Murphy stated, emphasizing that good home (self) care is imperative. "We carry the Dermalogica Medibac Clearing System which provides fantastic results in clearing acne," she said. Beyond Harmony also provides glycolic peels to "encourage the regeneration of new skin cells in order to accelerate acne healing," Murphy stated.

"Face" the Enemy... Then Smile
Many negative things can be said about acne. It's unattractive. It can be painful, and make sufferers feel insecure about their appearance - and themselves. It can also become a chronic condition that causes years of overall distress.

The really upbeat aspect here is that while you may have acne, you don't have to "keep it." There are plenty of local experts who can effectively treat that acne and get you back to feeling good in your own skin. And that, dear Inside SCV readers, is what Beauty Inside & Out is all about.

For More Information...
• Beverly Hills Physicians 800-788-1416
• Beyond Harmony MedSpa 298-8008
• Dermal Solutions Esthetic Center 295-0027
• Infinity MedSpa 259-8100
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