I'm a 44yr old female. I suffered with moderate to...
27 Nov 2013
Day of treatment
I'm a 44yr old female. I suffered with moderate to severe adult acne (inflammatory papular - not cystic - no whiteheads or blackheads, just a profusion of red bumps) for almost ten years beginning in my early 20s. Nothing worked ;( I saw numerous dermatologists and we tried everything (including multiple, escalating doses of Accutane). Finally, my doctor decided to try Aldactone and we got results ;) I was clear for almost 13 years (my skin was best during and after my four pregnancies, which is not normal!). About 12 months ago my acne inexplicably (maybe peri-menopause?) returned. I went back on Aldactone immediately but with no results. My acne has gotten progressively worse and so today I had v-beam (PDL - pulsed dye laser spot treatment) followed by PDT as a last ditch effort.
The procedure was not painful - it was mildly uncomfortable. The vbeam treatment was a non event, just little bursts of fluid against the skin. Then my face was prepped with an acetone wash and the levulan was applied under my eyes and down to my chin - I have never had a zit on my forehead, ever, so they left that area alone. The doctor had prescribed a two hour incubation period and so I sat in a dimly lit room and relaxed, no discomfort at all ;) When the incubation period was done I donned sexy goggles and sat in front of a u-shaped blue light machine for 16mins and 40secs. It was not really hot, it was tingly and burned slightly, but I was expecting pain. My cheeks throbbed every so often, but it felt productive and so I kind of liked it. That being said, I have always hated the sun (I am very pale) and I am an avid hat wearer so I have no sun damage or age spots. Based on the reviews I have read, it seems that AK patients suffer more under the light than acne patients.
I am home now, eight hours have passed, and my face is very, very red almost fuschia and my cheeks are quite swollen, but still no real discomfort. My skin is tight and tingly and my cheeks throb every so often, but I'm not too bothered by that. I can still see all my acne spots beneath the red, the spots are even more red than the surrounding skin - I had hoped for a uniform redness so that I could begin to forget that I have acne, but no luck ;( I washed my face with dove white soap and applied glaxal base (a barrier cream i've used for years). I'm going to bed now happy to have begun a process that I hope will give results. I donot expect perfection - I'm too mature to wish for, or even want, that - but some improvement would be very nice...I will update this post in a few days. I expect things to get worse before they get any better ;)
I slept fine last night and today my face is still very red and increasingly swollen. It is tingly, but not painful. The red acne scars that were treated with the vbeam have all crusted over and so my skin feels scaly.
Today is my least favorite day so far. My skin is still very red, The swelling has subsided, but now my face is extremely dry, tight and itchy. It is scaly to the touch which is awful. All my formerly flat red acne scars are crusted over, I hope that I start peeling soon...
Today is my favorite day so far ;) My skin started to peel last night. I took a shower to urge it along. The warm water, dove white soap and my fingers did the trick and got the ball rolling. I did not use a washcloth or any other scrubbing device because my face is still very sensitive and I didn't want to set myself back. This morning I was 40% peeled! The peeling started with my chin and is moving upwards. Today my cheeks are flaky and have begun to peel. My doctor's office called to check in and advised me to keep my skin moist through this process with multiple, as needed applications of a moisture barrier (like glaxal base or aquafor). I am already thrilled with the results ;) Although my fresh skin is still fuschia, my face is no longer swollen, the new skin is baby soft, all of the active papules I had before the treatment (8-10 amidst a profusion of red scars) are gone! and my scars appear to be significantly less red and completely flat. That being said, I did not have any pit scarring and my face is uniformly red. It is possible that when the redness subsides I will be able to see the scars - I'll let you know. One thing that I did not expect was burned lips because the levulan was not applied to my lips. The office suggested that because I had a long incubation period (2 1/2 hrs) it is possible that the levulan crept into my lips. Oh well, it seems I got a lip peel as a peripheral benefit. Next time I will use zinc because my peeling lips has proven to be the most uncomfortable part of this process so far - I slept with a jar of vaseline in my lap last night!
Still peeling and red. No swelling, no discomfort and no acne! Amazing ;)
I could go out today, if I needed to. Just some residual flaking on my right cheek where my scarring was the worst. Otherwise just fresh, mildly pink skin (nothing I couldn't cover up with Glo mineral powder). Very, very exciting ;) I would suggest that anyone who is suffering with persistent, non-cystic, inflammatory acne that does not respond to traditional treatment talk to their dermatologist about this procedure and ask to be referred to a doctor who routinely performs PDT. I wish I had done this so much sooner. My whole family has been suffering with me these last 12 months needlessly. Today my kids and husband are even more relieved than I am, if that is possible ;)
I went out yesterday! My face is just a little dry , to be expected, and flushed, which is kind of nice - I'm usually so pale ;) I would recommend this procedure to anyone suffering with chronic acne. I will be maintaining my new, clear skin with twice monthly blue light sessions and I would not hesitate to repeat this process as needed. For years I had no hope of recovery - now I am very hopeful.