What Is Blue Light Acne Therapy?
Blue light acne therapy was first introduced in August 2002 through a formal submission through the FDA. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first blue light therapy machine used for acne called the ClearLight Phototherapy device. Phototherapy uses blue light in narrow bands to treat mild to moderate acne. Past light therapy devices used UV light, but blue light therapy is different from lasers and does not use ultraviolet light which has been found to cause burning, wrinkling, skin ageing, and even skin cancer. Acne blue light therapy treatment has the ability to kill the bacteria which causes breakouts called P. acnes.
How Is The Procedure Administered?
Treatments using blue light therapy are quite fast and effortless. Just take a seat in a chair sitting up or laying down and have the treatments administered. The light is placed on the treatment area for about 15 to 30 minutes with the blue light being just few inches from the skin. No pain is involved and taking time off work is not necessary since it is a noninvasive procedure. Treatments revolve around a cycle of about 4 weeks to 8 weeks on average for typical breakouts. For more stubborn acne, it may take longer before results are seen. After clear skin is achieved, intermittent treatments are necessary to maintain clear skin.
Concentrated treatment is sometimes needed for more complex acne like cystic acne. A topical agent called Levulan can be applied on the skin for 15 minutes to 1 hour before blue light treatment. Levulan contains 20% of a naturally occurring substance in the body called aminolevulinic acid (ALA). ALA when combined with 10 minutes of blue light therapy helps shut down overactive oil glands in the skin, reduces pore size, and decreases the size of pimples between 1 mm to 3 mm in size. To get the full effect of the treatment, a space of two weeks is recommended between treatments.
Benefits and Risks Involved
There have been limited studies concerning blue light therapy. So far, blue light therapy has been effective in controlling acne breakouts in adults involving mild to moderate acne. For the few studies that have been done, the standard of 4-8 weeks of treatment seems to provide adequate results and some patients have seen improvement of acne up to 81%.
As with any therapy, there are risks involved. Short term side effects of blue light therapy include redness, dryness, skin pigment changes and photosensitivity. Possible long term issues may include photo-ageing, cancer risks, and supression of the immune system but more data must be collected.
How Many Treatments Are Needed and How Much Does It Cost?
The standard treatment for blue light therapy is for 15-30 minutes over a 4-8 week period. The cost varies between $50.00 to as much as $150.00 per visit. Blue light therapy will be an out-of-pocket expense as most insurance sees light therapy as a cosmetic procedure and not an essential procedure.
Blue Light Therapy Systems Available
The first blue light therapy system created was the ClearLight system created by Lumenis. It was first introduced in 2002 specifically for moderate acne. This system also could be used with Levulan for more stubborn acne. All other blue light systems that came after this system improved on the technology to fine tune blue light therapy. These other brands include the BLU-U System, Omnilux blue and Omnilux revive systems. Blue light therapy has also progressed to hand-held personal systems that can be used by consumers at home so office treatments are no longer necessary for treatment and maintenance care.
Blue light therapy seems to be a viable way to clear acne without the use of internal pills or topical creams. If you are tired of acne creams and pills, acne blue light therapy treatment is a great way to get an acne free skin faster in the comfort of a qualified provider’s office or even your own home.