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I've had cystic acne for years, and light treatment with levulan was a last resort before resorting to accutane for the second time in my life.
I had four treatments of ALA with IPL (intense pulsed light--current literature suggests that IPL might be more effective in severe cases of acne than Blue light) performed at a world-renowned university's cosmetic laser center. Treatments were performed at 3 week intervals. Each time, skin was cleansed with propanol; ALA was applied, left on for 90 minutes, and removed with a mild cleanser. Single pass IPL was performed @ 23J/cm2.
After each treatment, skin only remained red for only a day or so. I had it done on Fridays, and always looked normal enough for class on Monday. Little to no pain, though the procedure was similar to having a rubber band slapped against the skin--mildly uncomfortable.
For two weeks after each treatment I had severe acne flares, only to have smoother (but still acne-ridden) skin one week before my next treatment. This trend continued until after the last treatment, where skin eventually ceased to be smooth, and acne was as bad as ever.
In sum, it didn't work for me, but studies suggest that it might work for you...I guess...
Do not believe the hype. If you choose to do this procedure be aware it can cause serious permanent damage; scarring, permanent redness.
I had IPL with levulan blue light treatment for melasma. It caused me a lot of pain, and while it cleared up my hyperpigmentation for a few weeks, it all came back within a month. So the $750 was a complete waste.
Worse, it actually caused me to have moderate to severe acne for months afterwards. Since the treatment I have suffered from whiteheads and painful cysts, first on my chin and now on my cheeks. I am hoping I am at the tail end of it, four months later, as it does seem to finally be clearing up somewhat.
I would not recommend this treatment, and wish I would not have done it. At least I could cover the skin discoloration with makeup. The acne bumps cannot be covered and I have suffered due to the acne.
I have hormonal acne that flares up around a certain time of the month. I don't ever get white heads, it is always cystic. After being on several oral meds I wanted off...its not worth it to me to be on meds month after month. My skin is clean but I still fight with cysts that come out. Topicals don't help so I went to a facial plastic surgeon who has a dermspa and recommended this treatment. They recommended I have 2 chemical peels first then the levulan treatment. I went on a THURSDAY to have the levulan put on. It didn't bother me at all just noticed my face turning red as the hrs went by. Woke up on FRIDAY, went to the office where they removed it and placed me under a blue light for 17 minutes. I thought I was gonna die. Any light activates the chemical but I did not think that it was going to feel that intense. My face swelled big time. I couldn't leave the house. They only recommended I use aloe vera w/lidocaine as needed. I didn't put anything on my face day 1 (only mild burning). Day 2 my face was normal feeling but I looked like awful. NO products were to be used until my face peeled. By day 3 I asked if a steam would help and they said it would quicken the peeling process. Along with levulan I am doing 4 IPL treatments, an ACTIVE FX session, and a couple more peels (total of $1500..levulan treatment separately $350). This office also prescribed bleaching cream, BenzaClin (which they stressed) and retin-a. Overall I am only in the beginning of the package but I hope that this helps control the cysts.
I've always had oily skin, large pores, and zits here and there but my skin exploded with cystic acne after a traumatic experience when I was 27. I've tried EVERYTHING under the Sun to cure the acne as well as repair the depressed and icepick scars that humiliate me. My last resort before I have a Fraxel Re:pair (this winter -- EXCITED!) was photodynamic therapy.
The first time I had a PDT it involved a light microderm, followed by the AHA being applied and left to incubate for an hour. After that I sat for 15 minutes under a blue light. There was no pain, just a warm sensation -- like getting too much sun -- but I had a fan on my face to keep cool. Afterwards the doc shot me with an IPL (which hurt like heck even with Valium). The aftermath was that I had only a few whiteheads and I looked like I had a bad sunburn. I kept out of the sun for two days (medicine is still active), and kept Aquaphor on (yuck) until I went back a week later. Bottom line: I had slight flaking, but a definite decrease in oil all over but especially on my cheeks. My forehead was still kind of oily and my chin had a shine, but it wasn't as bad as it was. My pores were smaller, but I still broke out in small zits and whiteheads. I was told to give my face at least 6 weeks for it to completely purge itself. There was no change to the scars. I'm also still on antibiotics.
This second time -- 3 weeks later -- the doc decided to do a light Fraxel Re:store before the PDT to work the medicine deep in my skin. So I had a microderm, numbing cream, Fraxel, then the PDT and IPL. I had this on Tuesday. Wednesday I had a TON of whiteheads. Now my face is really red and peeling like a snake from the Fraxel. I'm keeping Aquaphor on it until I go back next Tues. I have lots of raised red bumps and a few whiteheads. Little to no scar improvement (to me), but let's cross our fingers. What I want most is an end to this acne (as a 31 year-old woman!) and to smooth out the scars that disgust
I've had my first of 3 treatments (ALA on my face and upper back for 1 hour, 6-7 mins of Blu-U). I was very careful to stay out of the sun after the treatment for well over 24 hours and I think this is the key to lowering side effects. Mine were fairly mild - red skin for 2 days, followed by dark spots where my bigger pimples had been for another few days, followed by moderate peeling. I was back in public after 24-48 hours and skin looking better than ever by the end of the 1st week. My skin tone has already improved, the number of pimples has been significantly reduced, and I'm very satisfied with the results...all that and it's still only my first of 3 treatments! Supposedly, this treatment can reduce oil...it's hard to say at this point. There may be a bit of a reduction. I'm hoping that things will only improve more with each additional treatment. I highly recommend this if you can afford it. Just stay out of the sun COMPLETELY for the first 24-48 hrs and side effects should be well worth it.
In case it matters, I'm a 31 year old male and have fought mild to moderate acne since my teens. I'm very oily and I've tried basically everything on the store shelves that's supposed to work for acne, with little effect. I've also tried doxycycline (oral) and topical clindamycin with moderate effect. Have never tried accutane. Only one treatment in and photodynamic therapy is the most effective thing i've tried by far. Hopefully the results last! The acne on my face is mostly white heads and black heads. The acne on my back is more cystic. The treatment seems to be working well for all types, though I suspect the cystic acne on my back will be slower to resolve. The price I list is per treatment and per area.
Would do it again if needed. I had the Levulan left on for 7 hours before it was activated by the blue light. I believe this is better than 3 smaller treatments as it gets very deep. Its been 3 months still get a few pimples but they usually clear up quick.
Hi all! I has this tx done 1 week ago today and had some concerns to share. First, a little history-I have been fighting acne for 8 years ( am 21) and have used various topicals (duac, epiduo, Rentin A) and antibiotics (Doxycycline, minocycline) and accutane in 2008 (40 mg BID for 6 months). I am currently taking 150 mg of Aldactone which has helped with my hormonal bumps, however, I wanted to get rid of some of the scarring and pesky plugs in my chin. My dermatologist recommended this tx for me since I have very fair skin and light acne. I incubated with the levulan for 1 hour and sat under the light for 18 minutes. I had redness and stinging for 2-3 days after the treatment and then I had hyperpigmentation of the scars and some brown patches appeared. I had no peeling and am very concerned that the next tx will exacerbate the discoloration. Again, it has been a week and the hyperpigmentation still persists. The dermatologist insisted that I continue through my series of txs and wants to increase my incubation time to 1.5 hours, but I am still frightened of how my skin is going to react. If anyone out there has experienced a similar reaction, I would greatly appreciate some advice and if this hyperpigmentation will get better with subsequent treatments. Thanks for your help, and best of luck to those trying this treatment
i dont know when or if i will ever get my face back! I wish i never went through with this. i was honestly desperate. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE learn from my mistake and dont do this!!!!!! i was told that after my face peeled i would be left with beautiful skin... however, i was left with worse acne then before and i never thought that was possible. AND THEY HURT MORE THAN EVER!! i did this treatment 2 weeks ago and went in today for a follow up... i basically got an "oh" from the doctor.
The first couple days i couldnt even look at myself in the mirror. i probably got a million whiteheads all over my face and didnt even recognize myself from the swelling. i couldnt even open my eyes all the way!!!
I would recommend something that works from the inside out like anti-biotics.
Please stay away from levulan and blu-u!!!!
I signed up to get 6 treatments of this, but was only able to get 4 because I reacted so badly to the fourth. My face burned so much the week of my recovery and it was just so unbearable I had to go on pain medication. My skin scabbed horribly and started breaking out more than how I initially started. It took about 2 good months before the pain completely went away. Now, 7 months after, my skin is still extremely red and scarred from the cystic acne it caused me.