Expensive cure - Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) with Levulan
Good news: We have finally found an acne treatment that has almost totally cleared up my daughter's skin. Bad news: Very expensive.
My 17-yr. old daughter has had moderate acne since she was 11. We tried EVERYTHING except Accutane, which we were too afraid of. Her emotional state was of the greatest concern to me, as I watched her try to deal with the embarrassment, anger, depression, and cruelty of classmates for seven long years. She became withdrawn and sad. I was so frustrated -- why can't someone DO something???!!! For a kid to have to go through this emotional torture is heartbreaking. Fortunately, as she got a little older, she was able to handle it a lot better, but still would end up in tears on her really "bad face days." We thought there was nothing left for us to do. But, somehow, I heard about IPL with Levulan. This is a high intensity light treatment used in conjunction with a topical solution. It is only done by a dermatologist. We used the IPL (Intense pulsed light) as opposed to the "blue" light, as it is supposedly more effective on stubborn acne. Usually, a series of treatments is needed. Our derm charged $575.00 per treatment, but with a package of 5, the fifth was free. (whoop-de-doo). We were told that most of his patients saw improvement after about the third treatment. There is some down-time, as the face gets extremely red for a few days, then flaky for a few days more. Also, you can not go into daylight for 24 hours, not even on a gloomy day. The treatment itself is relatively painless, however. So, we decided to go for it -- even though it was a financial strain, I couldn't bear to see my daughter go on without at least giving this one last shot. Well, after the third treatment -- no improvement. After the fourth -- nothing. After the fifth -- nothing. My daughter was getting even more upset, since she had to give up all her social time each time she had a treatment done (they are done about a month apart). The doctor kept insisting that there is always one "magic" treatment, that really does the trick -- but it takes longer for some people. So now our package deal was over. Further treatments would cost more. He urged us not to give up and offered us a discount for the next treatment. (I know it sounds like he was just trying to sell us more treatments, but he was very sympathetic and caring throughout all this and genuinely wanted to help her). He said the most he had to do on a patient was 8 treatments and he only had one patient that had no improvement and that was because she quit after the 5 treatments. So we went with one more (the sixth treatment). Well, that was "the one." About a week after that treatment, her skin looked pretty clear, then clearer each day. It's been about a month now and she looks almost flawless. We are afraid to be too happy -- it just seems to good to be true. We would have been satisfied with 50% improvement, but this is more like 95%. Supposedly, your skin doesn't even reach the epitome of its improvement until one year after you start treatments. She started last summer so it should get even better from now on. It has also improved the redness and scarring she had. We just can't believe it. I guess sometimes you really do get what you pay for. She's also using a Retinal cream at night, but that's it. So, this seems to work for almost everyone -- what it does is target the overproductive sebaceous glands and shrink them to reduce the sebum. It is safe (it is actually used to treat skin cancers) and there are no side effects, other than the initial down time. We've been told we may need a "maintenance" treatment now and then, maybe once a year or so, but that's definitely do-able to be rid of this horrible condition. As a parent, I would have spent twice as much to ease my daughter's pain. I suppose there are people out there who have spent this kind of money on this treatment and it didn't work for them. All I can say is, it was a miracle for us.