How Effective is Acne Laser Treatment?

Laser treatment has proven to be useful in treating most of the acne conditions compared to other conventional forms of treatment like lotions, gels and creams applied to the skin which do not always work very effectively and can sometimes cause some side effects.

Doctors sometimes also prescribe oral medication but some individuals experience nasty side effects like dizzy spells and fainting and there can sometimes be doubts about long-term safety of taking these.

Laser has the ability to destroy all bacteria that initiates acne. It also decreases the size of the sebaceous glands that produces oil that causes pimples in the first place. It is a safe method and assures that you will not be exposed to any kind of danger during the process. Generally, it is wise to start treating acne in its initial stages, as prolonging it makes it harder to treat.

Before opting to undergo laser surgery, you need to confirm whether it’s the right choice for you. You could consult a qualified physician to help you make the decision.

New acne treatments like blue light therapy or diode laser therapy are some of the alternatives to be considered when the traditional therapy fails. Most laser- and light-based therapies do not damage the surface of the skin, but some laser treatments are known to affect the sebaceous glands.

Some of the most common types of laser and light therapies are:

  • Blue light therapy – Exposing the skin to a low-intensity blue light is said to destroy P. acnes.
  • Pulsed light and heat energy therapy – It is thought to destroy P. acnes and shrink sebaceous glands that reduce oil production.
  • Diode laser therapy – It can destroy sebaceous glands in the dermis without affecting the outer layer of skin.
  • Photodynamic therapy – It combines topical drugs and light-based treatments where a photosensitizing agent is applied to your skin to increase the effects of light therapy.
  • Photopneumatic therapy – The therapy employs vacuum suction to get rid of oil and dead skin cells within the sebaceous glands to treat P. acnes.


Laser therapy not only helps to get rid of acne, but plays a major role in reducing the oily nature of the skin to stop acne burden from accumulating. You can see a marked improvement in your skin. The treatment will remove scars and refresh your skin cells; reducing many wrinkle marks and leaving your skin look smoother.

In a study (1), patients who underwent laser treatment reported a remarkable 37 percent reduction in their acne problems. This percentage reflects the people who had the treatment just once in their life. But if a patient continues to go through more sessions, the percentage is expected to increase hugely.

Another survey reported that people who had three sessions of laser treatment saw an improvement of their acne condition by 85 percent (2). And almost all patients who had a positive experience with the treatment were able to get rid of their acne in about five months.

Side effects

By and large, laser treatments are safe but in a few a cases you might notice visible side effects after the treatment that include sore skin, itching, bleeding, redness and shiny skin.

However these signs tend to disappear after a few days. Sometimes, doctors may prescribe medications to reduce pain after the treatment. One thing to remember is to approach a certified laser surgeon.

Some people receiving the treatment for the first time may not experience any marked of side effects at all.


Compared to other traditional types of acne treatments, laser treatment is still, by far, more expensive. As it costs a lot, it is recommended as a last option to consider when all the other treatments have not yielded any results. Although many people believe laser is a one-off treatment, but to get the desired results you need more than a couple of sessions.

How well this type of treatment works can also depend on how aggressive the acne is. For some people the underlying acne is not so severe and usually the acne will have cleared in several months or into the second year even if they were not to treat it due to the natural healing process, so any laser treatment towards the latter stages could give the impression it was responsible, when, in fact, it would have cleared naturally in any case.

And despite aforementioned surveys showing its effectiveness, I have personally known at least one person who spent good money on several sessions of laser therapy without seeing any improvement while another had highly effective results applying Retin-A on affected areas over several months to a point of pretty much completely clearing away despite the acne being very severe, albeit causing some discomfort (sometimes quite severe, especially early on into the treatment) because of its susceptibility to causing irritation to skin.

Although acne laser treatment can be expensive and may not be covered by your insurance company, you can judge for yourself about its effectiveness, especially when you have tried and failed with other acne treatment options. But its fair to say the success will depend case by case because of the different nature of acne and the severity of it.

1) National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)
2) Bupa (British United Provident Association)

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