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Acne Scarring: An Account Of My Experience And A Proposal For Treatment

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I write this as a long time sufferer of acne. Twelve years and counting to be exact. I write this as someone whose confidence, mental well-being and in fact life has been devastated by acne. I also write this as a person who has tried a variety of medications to attempt to find a solution to my acne problem. I write this as someone who is attempting to find a way to treat acne scarring. Furthermore, I write this without in any way attempting to mislead or offer false hope to others. I simply write of my experiences and of what I think may well in fact be a solution to the problem, not of acne, but of at least some of that which remains once the acne is gone.

My story really begins in my mid-teens. I was approximately 15 years old when I first developed acne. I was at that time still at school and dealing with a lot of difficult emotional issues when large bright red spots began to appear on the back of my neck. They were painful and embarrassing obviously. But they went away relatively quickly - not to immediately return. I was left with the impression by others who had developed quicker than I had that this was just a phase that everybody goes through at a certain age. And at that time it was. It wasn't in fact until months later that I began to develop large amounts of acne across the entirety of my fact, neck and upper back. This too I was led to believe was normal. Just another bout of teenage acne. Well, I had before then left school early and not been leaving the house and had become quite isolated. The acne had developed quickly and to such an extent that I could no longer distinguish one spot from another. Instead my fact appeared to be little more than a bright red mound. So much so that three prominent moles on my upper left cheek disappeared entirely. It was the acne on my back and neck, however, which caused the most physical pain. Never being able to sit, lie or stand comfortably, I cried so many times as I asked myself why this, of all things, was happening to me.

Being given the impression by those around me that this was just a brief phase and not knowing that I would once this phase was over get my clear skin back, I waited patiently for the acne to fade. Having no idea that acne could be treated with bouts of medication, I did not seek out treatment. A doctor who would often visit me on a regular basis never sought to inform me that I could receive treatment for my condition. He merely sought to tend to my emotional issues without attempting to determine what the causes of my emotional issues were. I retreated into an isolated world in which I sought escapism in dreams and through video games. I became a recluse - failing to leave the house almost entirely for a period of over two years. Barely eating, drinking or communicating with anyone as the acne continued to spread. Even family members, who frankly left me to my fate. Regarding me as little more than a burden that they wished would quietly go away.

It wasn’t until I’d suffered with acne for more than 18 months that I realised that there might be something I could do about it. I was flicking through a magazine when I saw advertised a medicine for acne. I didn’t know any better and so sent for the medication. Of course after months of waiting to receive and consuming the medication, I realised it would not work. It hadn’t as much as made a dent in what was a pretty solid facade. It was here, however, that I discovered that acne was treatable. This encouraged me to actively seek medical treatment, which I found available on request. (I have always been puzzled as to why a doctor would fail to offer treatment upon seeing the patient’s condition. It may be one of the few medical conditions which I know of whereby the cure so to speak – though the word cure is not quite appropriate – was actively withheld by a medical professional.) This was Minocycline. After two to three months of this medication, I had emerged with more or less clear skin. Clear from acne that is. Of course once the acne began to dissipate, I found that two years of severe acne had left me with a significant amount of scar tissue across my back, neck, face, chest and legs. Others assured me, as they had offered assurances in the past that this scar tissue would eventually disappear. Apparently of its own volition. I did not this time accept their advice without question. I sought treatment for the effects of acne through the National Health Service. Only to be politely rebuffed at every turn.

In the mean time, Minocyline proved not to be a catch-all cure to my acne problems. Within weeks of me discontinuing the course of medication, the acne had returned. Not with a vengeance. But nevertheless it had returned. I was of the mistaken opinion that acne could be compared to other ailments. Equivalent to the cold that can be defeated with a dose or two of penicillin. To add to this an accidental overdose of Minocycline had left me with lip damage either side of my mouth. Exasperated by the failure of a further dose of Minocycline to improve my condition, I appealed to a dermatologist to permit me to undertake a course of Accutane in high dosages. I did this knowing of the potential consequences, but felt that drastic times called for desperate measures and all that. This proved to be, from my point of view, a mistake. To this day, I still suffer from dry mouth and sensitive skin as a result. (I do not know whether Accutane affected me in any other way.)

Accutane had left me with skin that was clear of acne, so long as I stayed on the medication. Once I had finished my course of Accutane, this very limited panacea had proven not to be as successful as I thought it might be. The acne returned again. (It is interesting to note that the effects of Accutane have always been in my experience blunted by anti-depressants, which, while improving a sufferer’s mood, will lead to increased inflammation of the skin and this thereby have a negative effect upon the person’s mood. Negating the purpose of anti-depressants altogether. This is something I have noticed as I have in the recent past gone from a 20 milligram dosage of Citalopram to a high dosage of 60 milligrams, which I decided to abandon for exactly that reason.)

So here I am, twelve years on. Still suffering. Though the acne has dissipated considerably from what it was, the permanent presence of scar tissue has – I’ll say it – ruined my life. Despite loneliness and despair, I have never allowed anyone to get close to me and have always and continue to feel ashamed of myself. Throughout it all, though, I have always had some hope that I might be able to turn my situation around. I have always thought that the scar tissue which you and I appear to be stuck with could in fact be removed altogether. I still believe that and I want to tell you why.

Very early on I came to think that piercing might provide an answer to the problem of a particular type of acne scarring. The redness prevalent upon a person’s skin and which becomes enflamed when a current or past acne sufferer experiences when he or she exercises, etc. When I say piercing, I, of course, mean body piercing. Not something you would traditionally think of when it comes to treating acne scars. However, this is what I have found:

I have been able to determine that piercing the skin where the form of scar tissue that I describe above is present results in the replacement of the acne scar (or redness) with another far less significant scar than the one that came before. The intention of piercing the skin is not here to create a hole in the skin for the purposes of body modification or enhancement etc. It is solely for the purposes of re-damaging the skin, but in a different way that leaves a different form of scar tissue. A form of scar tissue less sever, in fact, far less severe than that left by acne. Such a scar is so insignificant that it is barely noticeable. I propose that the insignificant scar left from the piercing can then, following a short healing process, be subjected to further treatment. Laser treatment is known to significantly reduce acne scarring. This being the case, the question is: If laser treatment can significantly reduce acne scarring (bearing in mind I am specifically referring to the redness which occurs once acne has dissipated) what kind of effect would laser treatment – or any other form of scar removal treatment for that matter – have upon a scar that is even less significant that of an acne scar? The answer may well be the complete removal of the scar in question. This being the case, I think the subject requires testing.

There appears to be a technique to piercing a person’s skin with the intention of leaving as small a scar as possible. This appears to go hand in hand with the avoidance of developing a white scar which amounts to a loss of pigment, which no one wants. Here it is the external piercing of the skin that matters and the initial piercing of the skin which has to be managed in the best way possible. Here when I refer to initial and external stages of the process, I simply use the word initial to indicate the moment when a piercing needle penetrates a person’s skin. By external piercing I simply mean the latter stage in which the needle is poked through and out of a person’s skin. My experiments indicate that the best way for the initial stage to be managed would be to avoid the use of an Introcan catheter to begin with. The initial use of this item would leave the individual with a with a white scar, the result of a loss of pigment (as mentioned above). Some other item would need to be used to initially puncture the skin therefore. A small needle, for example, could be used to puncture the skin initially. The catheter, however, is to be used in the second stage (what I have termed above as the latter stage) in order to create the scar which is designed to replace the already acne-scarred skin tissue. The time and labour that such an approach would involve would depend upon the amount of scarring a person has. But it would be reasonable to suggest that such an approach would consume a considerable period of time. This would depend upon the skill-level of the piercer. Some form of local anaesthetic would have to be used during such a procedure. For the purposes of both patient comfort and ensuring that the procedure itself take as little time as possible. A doctor or nurse in addition to a piercer would be required.

This is only to consider a particular kind of acne scarring. If we were to examine certain forms of raised scarring that occurs as a result of acne, we need consult treatment for mole removal:

Mole removal techniques are such that a mole can be removed leaving only a thin white line were the mole once was. The mole itself is cut out of the skin and the skin is stitched together. Leaving a thin white line. If this can be done for the purposes of mole removal, there appears to be no reason why the same procedure cannot be performed on skin that has been stretched or raised as a result of acne. Once such a procedure has been performed and an adequate recovery period has been permitted, that thin white line, scar tissue, obviously, can then be subjected to the kind of piercing technique that I spoke of previously. To be followed potentially by a variety of other forms of treatment. Laser treatment and the like.

Why have I written this piece? There reason for this is the fact that while I have plenty of ideas regarding how to go about removing at least some forms of acne scarring, I lack the resources and expertise to be able to conduct this kind of research. I am in other words at something of a dead end. This therefore is an appeal for assistance. To anybody who knows of ways in which I can advance my goal of finding a way of effectively being able to remove acne scarring altogether, or who knows how I can acquire funding to carry out my research, or anybody who is willing to assist financially my little project, I await your response.

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