Best Laser to Reduce Facial Oil/sebum?

I have overactive sebaceous glands such that my face is extremely oily beyond tolerance. I was told that a certain laser might help. Problem is there are many different options. Please provide me with a detailed and accurate suggestion.

Thanks {edited}


{by Britt, please do not post in all caps it looks like you are yelling and against community guidelines, thanks}

Doctor Answers 11

Smoothbeam 1250 for Facial Oil/Sebum

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The sebaceous glands are glands in the skin that secrete an oily, waxy substance called sebum, to lubricate the skin skin and hair.  The FDA approved Smoothbeam 1250 nm diode laser which penetrates to a depth in the skin where the sebaceous glands are found and causes injury to reduce the over production of sebum and therefore intended and helpful for the treatment of acne vulgaris.

In addition to laser treatments, excessive sebum production can be controlled by topical treatments including various over-the-counter cosmoceuticals, salicyclic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, chemical peels, and prescription medicines such as retinoids.  Isotretinoin (Accutane) and sprionolactone (Aldactone) are oral medicines that have also been shown to reduce sebum production thereby treating acne.

Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Reduction of oil sebum production

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Short of Accutane, combination of photodynamic therapy and prescription strength retinoid is probably the best approach to improve oily complexion. You would be best served to go under the care of a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience with photodynamic therapy using Levulan and/or Metvixia.

William Ting, MD
Bay Area Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Lasers are not a treatment for oil production

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Excessive oil production may be very frustrating but are not best treated by lasers. We may not have a good therapy for this and some of the topical cosmeceuticals help absorb the oil by using special ingredients.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Lasers will not reduce oil production in the skin

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Skin oil, known as sebum, is our body's own natural skin moisturizers.  Sebum is produced by sebaceous glands in the skin and lubricate the hair follicles.  Oil production is determined by our hormones, so we can not easily  control how much we produce.  While some lasers, such as Fraxel or other fractionated resurfacing lasers, may improve the tone and texture of the skin and possibly make pores appear less apparent, they do not lessen oil production in the skin.  The only medication that has been shown to give a long term reduction in oil production is the oral acne medication isotretinoin.  If you have severe acne along with oiliness, this may be an option.  If the skin is just oily, the use of oil-free moisturizers, toners, or salicylic acid washes or gels may be an appropriate first step to help remove excess oil from the skin.

Joshua Zeichner, MD
Manhattan Dermatologist

Laser to Reduce Facial Oil/sebum

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Laser does not consistent provide excellent results to reduce facial oil/sebum. Patient selection is key. Consult with 3 experienced and expert treating physicians to understand your options.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Medical and physical treaments may reduce oiliness of the face

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Medical therapy such as oral spironolactone and physcial treatments such as microdermabrasion and peels may reduce facial oiliness. Photodynamic therapy can reduce the size of oil glands but usually does not reduce the oiliness of the skin.

Edward Lack, MD
Chicago Dermatologist

Excess Sebum Treatment

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Currently I do not recommend lasers to reduce sebum formation

It is best to see a local physician to discuss what are the best measures available to your excessive sebum

Paul Carniol, MD
Summit Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Reducing excess facial sebum

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Excess sebum can be reduced in a number of different ways. The first thing to try is topical retinoids, like Retin A or Tazorac. If there is also acne, you might consider a course of Accutane, which reduces sebum production for approximately two years. Low dose Accutane taken continuously to control excess oil. Fractional laser resurfacing can also help reduce sebum, but to a lesser degree than Accutane.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon

Oil production

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I would highly suggest you consider low dose accutane as lasers might be dissappointing for you and less predictable. 


Dr. Malouf

Peter J. Malouf, DO
Fort Worth Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 87 reviews

Thermage to reduce sebum production

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Thermage is a radiofrequency device which has been shown in clinical studies and histopathology of the skin to target sebaaceous glands.  It is one of the best devices to treat overactive sebaceous glands.  There are many lasers which have been shown to affect sebaceous gland activity--these are lasers in the infrared region including the long-pulsed Nd:YAG lasers (Genesis by Cutera, Lyra/Gemini by Iridex), the 1320 nm CoolTouch,  and the 1450 nm Smoothbeam laser.  Most of the lasers used for nonablative rejuvenation were shown to have an effect on sebaceous activity due to their deeply penetrating wavelengths (the longer wavelengths in the infrared region of the light spectrum have deeper penetration in the skin).  Thermage uses radiofrequency electric current which is more deeply penetrating than infrared lasers.  Thermage creates more volumetric heating of the tissue resulting in skin tightening compared to the infrared lasers which do not cause as much skin tightening.  All of these lasers help to decrease sebaceous activity but in comparing the different devices, I have noticed that Thermage seems to work slightly better in decreasing sebum production.  Unfortunately none of these treatments are permanent.  Photodynamic therapy (PDT) using Levulan with blue light is also temporary.  There may be a more "permanent" cure using high-dose PDT.  This is a new procedure developed by Rox Anderson at Wellman Labs using Levulan or Metvixia with high-dose red light which actually destroys the sebaceous glands.  This treatment is not FDA approved but is very exciting and holds great potential as a possible "cure" for acne that may actually prove to be an alternative to Accutane.

M. Christine Lee, MD
Walnut Creek Dermatologic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.