Conditions in Adolescence
The number one skin problem encountered by adolescents is acne. While virtually every teenager suffers through pimples and mild acne, more severe cases can cause major physical and emotional scarring. The good news is that there are numerous treatment options now available to treat acne scarring.
As with almost any medical procedure, early intervention is a plus in treating acne scarring. In addition to producing the best results, an early response to acne problems helps reduce the intensity and amount of treatment needed.
Used individually or in combination, depending on the nature and severity of the scars, these treatments can restore a smooth appearance to even a badly disfigured face. The most popular of this new breed of safe, effective acne treatments include:
- Lasers: Several laser systems are used to combat and resurface acne scars. Two used most often are the Erbium:YAG laser, which is excellent for very precise sculpting; and the CO2 laser, which tightens collagen below the skin to repair deeper scars
- Soft-tissue augmentation and fat transfer: This procedure injects collagen or fat from another part of the patient's body in small quantities below the surface of the skin on the face. It is very successful for correcting deep contour defects in the face caused by severe cystic acne
- Punch excisional surgery: Used for deep "ice-pick" pitted scarring, this procedures excises the scars down to the subcutaneous fat, then grafts a small patch of skin from elsewhere on the body to cover the wound. Though recovery time is longer than with most other acne treatments, the results of this approach are highly effective and permanent
- Dermabrasion: A technique that essentially "sands" away the outer, deformed layer of skin that contains the acne scars. The new skin layer that grows to replace the abraded layer is typically much smoother and free of scarring
- Microdermabrasion: A newer technique that produces more subtle correction and involves virtually no healing time. However, it is effective only in cases of rather mild scarring
The bottom line is that there are more safe, effective treatments for acne scarring than ever before. Patients who have suffered with acne through their teenage years and beyond and are now left with this cruel reminder of their condition no longer need to live with acne scars.
Oftentimes at this age, the sudden appearance of hair in unwanted places or excess quantities can become a source of self-consciousness. Laser and intense pulsed light technologies have advanced hair removal far past the days of creams and electrolysis. Long-lasting results are usually achieved after a few treatment sessions. You'll need to consult with your dermatologic surgeon to learn if these methods are suitable for your particular skin type and hair color.
Adolescence is typically a time of finding one's own independence. Unfortunately, this process often carries some negative consequences for the skin. For one, remembering to protect your skin from the sun can be very challenging. That's why it's important to keep in mind both the medical and cosmetic risks of unprotected sun exposure.
Experimenting with tobacco, alcohol and drugs also can damage your skin. Talk with your parents and your dermatologic surgeon about the risks to your health and appearance from these factors.