Helping Troublesome Acne Without Accutane
The makers of Accutane, Roche AG, recently pulled this drug from the market citing economic and safety reasons. In reality, there have been several judgments and several pending lawsuits against the company regarding side effects from the drug. Unfortunately, for the severe acne sufferer, this eliminates a very effective (but with side effects) treatment for acne. So what is a good alternative to Accutane, which is safer and nearly as effective? It’s Levulan. Levulan is a photosensitizer of the skin. It is applied to the skin and then activated by light. It is absorbed by sebaceous glands – the ones that are overactive in acne patients. The result is that the sebaceous gland is partially destroyed, leading to less secretions and less acne. The light which activates the Levulan also kills the bacteria that cause acne as well. The results after 2 or 3 treatments is 75-85% improvement in acne for 9 months, and in some patients up to several years.
Although Levulan is not FDA approved for acne, it is widely used by the medical community worldwide for this purpose. Its FDA approval is for Actinic Keratosis, pre malignant lesions, on the skin. The procedure process involves cleaning the skin thoroughly, then applying the Levulan. It lies on the skin for about an hour and then washed off. The patient then sits under a blue light to activate the Levulan for about 15 minutes. After activation, the patient must protect his face from bright light and sunlight for the 24-36 hours. This means staying indoors, curtains closed, in a dimly lit room. During this time, the skin becomes red and begins to peel for the next few days. Follow up treatments are done about 3-4 weeks.