Sebaceous Gland Ablation is an exciting new treatment for active acne. The root cause of all types of Acne and breakout is overactive sebaceous glands. We have approximately 1200 sebaceous glands per square centimetre of skin. Only a tiny fraction of these are affected by Acne.
Many treatments can be effective for controlling Acne and traditional medical treatments have focussed on “normalising” Acne affected sebaceous glands. One of the biggest shortcomings of traditional medical treatments for Acne has been our lack of understanding of the fundamental cause of Acne, therefore, most of the treatments have been bandaids, rather than cures. Isotretinoin, known as Roaccutane in Australia, is a very powerful and effective acne controlling drug, but even with it, researchers are unsure as to why it produces long term sebaceous gland suppression. If Isotretinoin was not such a powerful drug, with so many potential serious side effects, there would be no reason to search for alternative treatments, as it is a highly effective treatment for Acne, particularly in males with severe Acne. Unfortunately, it is not quite so effective for females, who often relapse after experiencing brief remissions. One study of Isotretinoin use in women with adult Acne documented a 40% relapse rate on stopping the drug, with those women experiencing a worsening of their Acne. Many of my patients and their parents and partners are frightened of the potential serious side effects of Isotretinoin and for my patients with milder, but annoyingly persistent Acne, Isotretinoin seems to be too extreme a treatment to undertake.
One of the things that has always puzzled me about Acne is why do sebaceous glands malfunction in such a large number of people? If you think about how effectively the human body works throughout our lives, our hearts keep beating, our brains keep thinking and our lungs keep breathing and we don’t even have to worry about it. Yet 85% of teenagers and more than 20% of adults suffer from malfunctioning sebaceous glands, and some of the unlucky ones, to an extent where they are permanently scarred. These tiny organs, almost insignificant in importance for the human body, can cause so much trouble.
When I first learned about Sebaceous Gland Ablation, it seemed such an obvious solution to Acne, I felt foolish I hadn’t thought of it. Like many treatments though, it is very important for it to be “placed” amongst the myriad of Acne treatments available.
Acne is a very complex condition to treat. Because there are so many different forms of Acne and a number of factors that can exacerbate it, it is not a case of there being a “one size fits all” solution.
Sebaceous Gland Ablation will find it’s place amongst the proven medical treatments – tretinoin, adapelene, benzyl peroxide, the oral contraceptive pill and oral antibiotics, as an effective treatment for Acne. I like to use the analogy of laser hair removal versus waxing versus shaving. All are effective as methods of hair removal, but a client’s choice of a preferred method of hair removal is usually governed by the degree to which they view their hair as a problem.
I have many, many patients who are sick and tired of breaking out. For them, Sebaceous Gland Ablation will be the perfect solution.