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Acne Phototherapy

Phototherapy using red & blue light is a highly effective treatment for pimples & acne. Light works by suppressing pimple causing bacteria, without the requirements for prescription medications. Results can be seen within one treatment, however a series of five sessions conducted weekly will give the best results.

Key Points

  • Acne phototherapy targets bacteria in pimples & zits
  • Red light phototherapy goes deeper than blue light
  • Blue light can potentially worsen pigmented acne scars in patients with darker skin types
  • For ethnic patients, red light or vascular lasers are better than blue light
  • You can commence on this treatment by seeing our nurses at Cutis Dermatology
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Acne Phototherapy at a glance

Best outcomes: 2-6 sessions
Procedure time: 15 minutes
Duration of results: Variable
Back to work: Immediately
Recovery: 0 days
Anaesthetic: NA Painless
Your specialist: Dermatologist, laser nurse
How much: $

Our results speak for themselves



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        What can phototherapy for acne do for my skin?

        Light & laser treatment of acne can-

        • Markedly reduce pimples, zits & cysts within a short period of time
        • Clear up red marks from acne
        • Prevent red acne scars
        • Improve shallow acne scars

        What are the advantages of phototherapy for acne?

        Light therapy to treat acne is –

        • Safe. No medications, no tablets, no side effects
        • Pain Free. Low level light does not generate significant heat
        • Cost effective. You do not need to see a dermatologist for this treatment, simply book an appointment with our nurses

        Phototherapy is our preferred method of treating acne in pregnant or breast feeding patients.

        What are the disadvantages of phototherapy?

        The disadvantages of phototherapy are-

        • Acne phototherapy is only effective for pimples & zits. It has marginal results for blackheads, or cystic severe acne
        • Blue light can potentially worsen pigmentation including dark acne scars. For these patients, we suggest red light phototherapy for acne
        • For scarring patients, we advise adjunctive medical therapy for long term cure

        What devices do we prefer to deliver light for acne treatment?

        Our clinic employs several phototherapy units for treating acne, including blue light, red light as well as laser light. By having many devices, we can tailor treatments to both depth & most importantly your skin type. 

        • Blue light: BBL is preferred. It provides fast, safe treatments in lighter skin types.
        • Red light: Healite, is a gentle way of delivering light in darker skin types.
        • Vascular lasers: V Beam Prima, Perfecta, Derma V best for acne & red acne scars

        How many sessions will I require?

        One session will give results; however 5 sessions are ideal. These are spaced one week apart. Each session takes 15 minutes or less to complete.

        How would I know if my acne is suited for phototherapy?

        The predominant acne pattern should be pustules & zits, not blackheads. For an assessment, book a FREE consultation* with our nursing team. They can examine your skin & discuss the best way forward.  T&C apply

        Are phototherapy sessions painful?

        No. You will feel warm during the session, but there is no pain. With higher power laser sessions, you will experience a ‘flick’ with each laser pulse. It is uncomfortable but not painful.

        Is Kleresca better?

        No. Kleresca uses a gel that is photosensitive. This gel is concentrated in the oil glands & activated by two spectrums of blue light. The downside of Kleresca is –

        • The cost. This treatment is essentially a branded & commercialised way of delivering photodynamic therapy.
        • Blue light can potentially make post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation worse, especially in darker skin types.


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        Dermatologists employ clinical grade low level laser phototherapy including blue & red light to effectively & safely treat all forms of acne. Phototherapy is best combined with chemical peels for faster effects.

        Does phototherapy cure acne?

        No. Treatments including red, & blue light, Kleresca, Omnilux & Healite do not cure acne. They temporarily suppress bacteria found in pimples, zits & cysts.

        Some patients may have remission for months following a series of treatments, whilst others require more frequent follow up treatments.

        Does blue or red-light acne phototherapy treat blackheads?

        No. Light therapy is best for pimples as it targets bacteria in the oil glands. If you have blackheads & congestion, chemical peels including salicylic & retinoic acid are better.

        Learn more 

        Why do we advocate red light over blue light in ethnic patients?

        Darker skin types have a blue light receptor that increases pigment output by cells called melanocytes. This means when exposed to high concentrations of blue light, including Kleresca, dark acne scars can worsen. This phenomenon is well known amongst dermatologists, & hence we prefer red light therapy in darker skin types.

        What are other treatment options for my acne?

        Our clinic employs many effective options for acne management including-

        • OTC skin care; retinol, niacinamide, BHA & AHAs
        • Chemical peels including salicylic & retinoic acids
        • Prescription topicals including tretinoin, adapalene, & trifarotene
        • Prescription anti-hormones
        • Prescription oral retinoids

        Be guided by our nurses & dermatologists as to best solutions.

        Does acne phototherapy treat acne scars?

        Red light is better than blue, simply because red goes deeper into the skin’s surface. If you have acne & acne scarring, we use the V Beam Prima or Perfecta laser.

        Phototherapy is best for red acne scars, known as PIE or post inflammatory erythema. If you have dark acne scars (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation), blue light can make scars worse. For this type of acne scarring, Picoway laser is best.

        Learn more (Link to post inflammatory pigmentation in the ACNE scars section)

        Can acne phototherapy be combined with skin care?

        Yes. There are no interactions with skin care actives & products including retinoids-retinol & skin care acids. FYI-

        • Retinoids may marginally thin the stratum corneum. The energy levels of phototherapy are too low; hence the dose does not need to be adjusted.
        • The idiosyncratic effects of alpha hydroxy acids are thought to be in the UV wavelength which is far from the blue & red-light spectrums.

        Can phototherapy be used on patients on acne medication?

        Yes. Your skin care provider is aware of the action spectrum of acne medication in the long wave UVA wavelength. Blue light cut off is about 30-35 nm past UVA, hence it is safe.

        If there is any doubt, you should not be getting Kleresca/blue light/ BBL light. This is just basic knowledge.

        When do dermatologists advocate light therapy for acne management?

        When you see a dermatologist, our primary aim is to treat acne safely & effectively. This markedly reduces the chances of long-term scars. Our aim is not commercially orientated, our focus is on you, the patient. Hence, we will advise you accordingly.

        Phototherapy, including Kleresca, PDT, blue, red light & lasers are useful in these settings-

        1. As adjunctive therapy to medical intervention. Light can accelerate clearance of pimples & zits in patients on medication.
        2. As primary therapy in non-scarring patients. In this group, it is sensible to give non-pharma treatments a go.
        3. As primary therapy in pregnant patients, as we would like to avoid medications & prescriptions if possible.

        As treatment for patients who request phototherapy based upon their own research. It’s your choice, we just guide you.

        Ask us more about this treatment

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