My child has bad acne!  What’s a parent to do?

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This is a story about a new solution to an old problem.  If you had moderate to severe acne as a child, you personally know the fear and pain a child experiences.  Studies indicate that severe acne is associated with increased depression, anxiety, poor self-image, poor self-esteem, decreased quality of life, and a feeling of being all alone.  For girls, it is even worse.  Women with acne are two times more likely to have depression than men.  The problem for kids is so severe that the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends a psychiatric referral for adolescent patients with acne.

Both my wife and I suffered from moderate and severe acne during our youth. We knew the negative impact acne had on our self-esteem while growing up. When our youngest daughter was in middle school, she began to experience this awful plight as well. Although we were frightened of the long list of potentially terrible side effects of Accutane, we knew that for cystic acne, there really was no other solution. The process, of course, was involved. Our young innocent daughter had to have multiple lab tests and pregnancy tests, which were humiliating for her. We had multiple trips to the doctor’s office and the lab draw site. But for the cystic acne, the medication eventually worked. It wasn’t perfect, but it eliminated most of her acne pustules. We are still frightened of the potential harm it may have done to her body.

As many as 85% of adolescents struggle with some level of acne.  Benzoyl peroxide/topical retinoids can take a long time to work, don’t penetrate to deal with cystic acne, and can cause photosensitivity, oral antibiotics can build antibiotic resistance, Isotretinoin (Accutane) has potential side effects that include birth defects, mental health problems, brain, and skeletal problems.

Finally, there is something new and better on the market.  It is called AviClear.  The Cutera company has been making medical lasers since 1988.  They have now received FDA approval for the first energy-based laser to treat mild to severe acne.  And the results have been nothing short of amazing.  This is a 1726nm laser that precisely targets and down-regulates the sebaceous glands, much like Accutane, but without any of the negative side effects.  80% of patients saw at least half of their acne clear in the first 3 months, 87% in the first 6 months.  And the results continue to improve over time.  There are even patients who are better 2 years after the end of treatment than they were after the first year.

This technology is so new that unless someone stumbles onto it, they will not know it is an option.  If you know someone who struggles with acne or has a child that struggles with acne, let them know.  For more information about AviClear, go to  For more information about our practice, go to

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