Acne, clogged pores and congestion are pretty common, even in adults. However, there are aesthetic treatments that can help. Let’s look at what causes acne, plus how you can prevent pimples, curb flare-ups and reduce inflammation with some of the best acne treatments at The Clifford Clinic, an aesthetic clinic in Singapore.
What causes acne?
One main cause of acne is hyperactive oil glands in the skin. The sebum or oil produced by these glands clog up the pores, resulting in comedones like whiteheads and blackheads, which are non-inflammatory.
Inflammatory acne is characterised by papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. They occur when the C.acnes (also known as cutibacterium acnes, an acne-causing bacteria) that’s normally present in the hair follicle breaks down the sebum into substances that irritate the skin. This causes an inflammatory response, and the inflamed follicle ruptures into the dermis, appearing as reddened, raised and solid bumps that may also contain pus. Nodules and cysts happen with deeper inflammation; they count under severe acne that appear as large, red and painful bumps on the skin.
Recurrent adult acne is often caused by damaged pores on the face, which are more prone to becoming blocked. The sebum level on our skin changes from day to day, whether it’s due to hormone changes, diet or stress. Healthy pores can cope with such changes, but damaged pores can’t handle the increased flow of sebum and end up getting clogged, resulting in breakouts.
#1 AGNES Acne Treatment
If you have stubborn acne that keeps recurring in specific areas on your face, this is one treatment worth considering. Suitable for adults with recurrent acne, the AGNES Acne Treatment at The Clifford Clinic targets the root of the issue by selectively ablating these hyperactive oil glands in the skin. When these glands are destroyed, the pores no longer get infected or inflamed, allowing for permanent treatment of the acne.
By selectively targeting these problematic pores, researchers found that, with just three treatments in a year, it was possible to cure over 83 percent of non-inflamed acne and over 93 percent of inflamed acne!
How does it work?
The AGNES Acne Treatment works by selectively targeting acne-prone follicles on the face. The first step is identifying the blocked and damaged pores on your skin, which is done by the doctor using a magnifier. A fine wire is attached to the machine, which transports a tiny electrical current into the pore to zap the oil-producing gland. This reduces the size of the gland and controls the amount of oil production, which prevents congestion and inflammation.
How long does it take?
As the pores are tiny, the process is tedious – but worth the effort. A full-face session may take around 30 minutes in total, depending on the number of pimples. Your face may be red for one day. The next day, you’ll need to return to the clinic for a second session, for the therapist to squeeze out the dead cells from the pores.
Typically, patients can expect a reduction of 50 to 70 percent of acne breakouts after the first treatment. After the second or third session, up to 90 percent of improvement can be achieved. Results may differ from patient to patient; occasionally, some patients may require a touch-up session after one year.
#2 Gold Photothermal Therapy (PTT) Treatment
The Gold PTT acne treatment uses a combination of nanoparticles of pure gold, an ultrasound pulse and two lasers to convert light into the targeted heating of the sebaceous glands. This helps to reduce gland activity and kill the bacteria responsible for creating acne. Suitable for those with mild to cystic acne, as well as those who break out frequently, this treatment aims to treat acne at its source by reducing the amount of oil produced.
How does it work?
After the treatment area is cleansed, an ampoule containing gold nanoparticles is applied to the skin. These nanoparticles are designed to be biocompatible with the hair follicles and sebaceous glands; as a result, they absorb readily into the skin. The nanoparticles are then delivered into hair follicles in the face using Bellasonic, an advanced machine from South Korea that uses both Local Dynamic Micro-Ultrasound (LDM) and sonophoresis (a drug delivery method using low-frequency ultrasound). Bellasonic emits a low-frequency (40kHz) ultrasound pulses for sonophoresis. This ideal frequency delivers the gold nanoparticles into the hair follicles, allowing for accurate, non-invasive and painless delivery.
Then, a 808nm diode laser and long pulse 1064nm laser are used to heat up and activate the gold nanoparticles. The Clifford Clinic is the first clinic in Singapore to utilise these two lasers to accurately heat up the gold nanoparticles without damaging surrounding skin. The wavelength of the laser matches the absorbance wavelength of the gold nanoparticles, allowing the laser to effectively heat up the gold atoms in the
nanoparticles without harming the surrounding skin. The leftover gold nanoparticles used in the treatment shed off naturally with your dead skin cells.
The localised heat from the nanoparticles effectively tackles two of the physiological processes that lead to acne. Firstly, it thermally breaks down the overactive sebaceous glands permanently, thus reducing sebum secretion. Secondly, the heat kills C. acnes bacteria. By controlling the oil secretion, the follicles are less likely to become clogged. Bacterial activity decreases, reducing the chances of inflammation. By tackling these two processes, the Gold PTT effectively neutralises ongoing outbreaks, as well as prevent pimples in the future.
When can results be seen?
Mild results may be seen after the first treatment. However, you’ll need to undergo a series of three sessions over a one-week period for full results. You can expect an improvement in the treated areas around six weeks after the last treatment. There may be some redness after each treatment, but it should subside within a few hours or a couple of days. You can also resume daily activities following the procedure.
The HydraFacial treatment helps to remove dead skin cells and impurities while simultaneously rejuvenating the skin with solutions that contain cleansing, hydrating and moisturising properties. Customised to the individual’s skin condition, benefits include an increase in elasticity and hydration, on top of calming down acne and refining skin texture. The painless facial takes only 45 minutes, which makes it the perfect lunchtime treatment. With consistent and regular sessions, acne should subside and improve over time.
Just like a regular facial, the treatment follows a series of steps. First up is cleansing and exfoliation, followed by an acid peel to dislodge dirt from the pores. Next, the extraction process is done painlessly using a vortex suction device. For a hydrating boost, a powerful concoction of antioxidants and hyaluronic acid is vortex-fused to nourish and protect the skin. The session wraps up with a soothing face mask and a relaxing shoulder massage.
Reducing acne scars
#1 Q-switch Laser
For pigmentation woes like acne scars, freckles and age spots, try this laser treatment. The Q-switch laser uses a non-invasive, high-energy laser pulse at a specific wavelength on the targeted area, breaking down the pigments into smaller fragments, which are naturally eliminated from the body. At the same time, the laser gently stimulates the skin’s collagen and boosts production levels, resulting in firmer skin and better acne control. Aside from removing acne scars spots, it can also help to minimise pores and remove blackheads. Results such as lightened pigmentation and reduced acne may be seen three to four weeks after the treatment, but you’ll need a series of sessions for full results.
#2 Vbeam Laser
Best suited for those with lighter skin tones, this FDA-approved laser treatment uses an intense yet gentle burst of light in long pulses on affected areas to target spider veins, stretch marks, acne scars, and rosacea. The redness that’s left behind by stubborn acne is often a result of broken capillaries, which can be treated with Vbeam laser. The Vbeam laser selectively targets these capillaries, causing them to coagulate and be naturally reabsorbed back into the body, resulting in clearer and smoother skin. For acne scars, a series of six sessions (or more) is needed for optimal results.
#3 Secret RF
The hour-long Secret RF treatment is the first microneedle fractional RF with non-insulated needles, allowing the treatment of acne together with the treatment of depressed acne scars. The is the first time an acne treatment is able to treat rough textures and acne at the same time. Unlike the Infini, which uses insulated needles and is focused primarily on depressed scars, the Secret RF treatment uses fractional radio frequency (RF) and gold-plated, non-insulated microneedles to penetrate into the deep dermal layers of the skin, treating deep and depressed acne scars like rolling scars, boxscar scars and ice-pick scars. It utilises the theory of tissue coagulation and hemostasis, where controlled heat is transferred to specific parts of the skin and collagen production is stimulated from the inside out. Apart from treating acne scars, it can be used as an anti-ageing solution to address fine lines and wrinkles.
Where to go
Dr Gerard Ee and Dr Chow Yuen Ho of The Clifford Clinic have a shared total of 40 years of experience in dermatology, aesthetics and plastic and reconstructive surgery. The aesthetic clinic specialises in achieving natural-looking results with minimal downtime; it uses advanced technologies and top-quality skincare products.
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