As one of the most prevalent diseases in the world, acne sufferers are constantly engaging in an ongoing battle to reduce breakouts and skin inflammation.
Although acne is not a life-threatening disease, it can lead to serious emotional and psychological issues. Severe acne breakouts can have profound psychological effects on people. This is especially true when adolescents are at a young age where they are developing their personalities. If acne is not managed well, it can cause permanent facial scarring.
Topical treatments and oral drugs are widely available to treat acne. However, they often have limited efficacy and undesirable side effects.
On the other hand, in-clinic treatments such as carbon laser peel and chemical peel are not sufficient as the only treatment modalities for acne because the pathogenesis of acne is multifactorial. It involves overactive sebaceous glands, proliferation of C.acnes bacteria, hyperkeratinization of follicles etc.
In recent months, Photothermal Therapy (PTT) was introduced as an effective acne treatment by targeting the overactive sebaceous glands, which are a major factor of recurrent acne.
What is PTT?
PTT is a type of light therapy which uses electromagnetic radiation, commonly in the near infrared wavelengths, for the treatment of various medical conditions, including cancer.
PTT is similar to another more well-known treatment for acne, known as Photodynamic Therapy (PDT). However, the principle is different. Unlike PDT, PTT does not require oxygen to interact with the target cells or tissues. Additionally, current studies show that PTT can use longer wavelength light, which is less energetic, and thus, less harmful to other cells and surrounding tissues.
How does Gold PTT work?
Gold PTT is a treatment which uses gold microparticles, encased in nanoshells, to target the hyperactive sebaceous glands which are responsible for acne breakouts. These gold microparticles have 120nm diameter silica core and 15nm thick gold shell. These particles exhibit plasmon resonance, a phenomenon in which conducted electrons resonate with the incoming electromagnetic field, creating a strong optical absorption.
When applied to the skin, the gold nano shells penetrate deeply into the hair follicles. When a laser is applied, the gold nanoshells localized in the follicles absorb light, get heated, and induce focal thermolysis of the sebaceous glands.
What benefits can be derived from the treatment?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the topical use of gold microparticles for selective photothermolysis to treat recurrent acne.
UV ray protection of the affected area is not required post-treatment because there is no post-procedure photosensitivity.
Pilot clinical studies conducted on people with recurrent acne confirmed that efficacy of ultrasonically delivering gold nanoshells in inducing photothermal disruption to overactive sebaceous glands without causing any collateral damage to the skin.
After 3 to 4 sessions of Gold PTT, patients observe reduction of sebum production and subsequently, reduction of recurrent acne.
What is the procedure like?
The skin is first cleansed. After that, gold solution is applied and left on the skin for a few minutes to increase absorption by the skin. Penetration is further improved using ultrasonic waves.
Laser is then applied to the skin to induce focal thermolysis of the sebaceous glands.
It is a safe procedure with minimal side effects. You may experience some mild skin redness post-treatment due to the laser treatment.
Doctors recommend four sessions of Gold PTT treatment with two weeks apart per session.
Why is gold used for treating acne?
Gold nanoshell-mediated PTT selectively damages sebaceous glands and leads to effective management of recurrent acne.
Among the plasmonic nanomaterials, gold nanoparticles have received considerable attention in PTT due to their high photothermal conversion efficiency, low toxicity, easy synthesis, and functionalization.
Gold is chemically inert, being unaffected by oxygen. When these nanoshell particles are absorbed by the follicles, they will be excreted from the follicles over time. Residual particles could not be detected 1 month after the treatment.
Does Gold PTT really help to improve acne?
Studies were carried out in South Korea on selected people with stubborn acne lesions. The lesions were resistant and recurred despite various therapies, including topical agents, oral medication and laser treatments.
Results were remarkable. After 3 sessions of Gold PTT treatment, old acne lesions visibly improved and development of new lesions were markedly reduced. The treatment was also well tolerated with no adverse side effects.
Gold PTT treatment is now available at Radium Medical Aesthetics. Call us to find out more.