For acne sufferers whose skin has become resistant to ointments and medications, or for those who simply want to eliminate the daily hassles of such acne treatment regimens, blue light acne therapy has become a popular treatment option. Blue light therapy systems, such as ClearLight® and BLU-U®, offer acne treatment that is gentle and non-invasive when used alone or as a part of photodynamic therapy.
What is Blue Light Acne Therapy?
The FDA has approved the use of high-intensity, narrow-band blue light to treat mild to moderate acne. This pain-free light is safe and uses no ultraviolet (UV) light or lasers. When blue light is used as a treatment for acne, it kills p. acnes, the acne-causing bacteria that can form within the sebaceous glands and cause break outs. Blue light therapy can be administered alone through several systems that are available such as ClearLight®, or in combination with a topical photosensitizing solution in blue light photodynamic therapy for acne treatment.
What Is the Blue Light Procedure Like?
Blue light therapy treatments are relatively quick and easy. Patients either sit or lie down during treatment, and a light source is placed close to their face for about 20 to 30 minutes. Most patients do not experience pain or discomfort during exposure to the light, and they can get back to their normal routine immediately following a blue light acne therapy session. Treatments are typically repeated weekly for several weeks until optimal results are achieved. Some patients experience an improvement of their acne for several months. However, maintenance treatments are often recommended to sustain results. The number of treatments needed to reach optimal results may vary depending on the severity of your acne.
Patients who receive blue light photodynamic therapy will also have the topical solution Levulan® applied to their skin for 15 to 60 minutes before light exposure. When Levulan® is used prior to blue light acne treatment, patients spend only eight to ten minutes under the light, and the results are often enhanced. Blue light photodynamic therapy sessions are typically spaced two weeks apart to allow the full effects of the treatment session to appear.
Risks and Benefits of Blue Light Acne Treatment
In general, blue light acne treatment is a safe and non-invasive method of treating acne. Blue light therapy targets the sebaceous glands, and not the surrounding tissues, killing the bacteria that cause acne. Many patients see significant improvement in their acne after two to four weekly treatment sessions of blue light therapy.
Patients who undergo blue light photodynamic therapy typically experience better results than with blue light therapy alone. Some patients may experience swelling, redness, stinging, and burning following treatment, and rarely, some patients may be allergic to the Levulan® photosensitizing solution. It is important to keep in mind that since photodynamic therapy is a relatively new acne treatment method, long-term results and side effects have not been determined.
Cost of Blue Light Acne Treatment
The cost of blue light acne therapy ranges from $40 for a single treatment to about $1,000 to $1,500 for a full treatment package, including several weekly sessions.
Are Multiple Blue Light Treatments Necessary?
A series of weekly blue light acne treatments for several weeks are recommended to achieve optimal results. However, the amount and frequency of treatments that you will need depends on the severity of your acne and how well it responds to treatment. Many patients see results with two to four weekly treatments. To maintain results after the initial series of treatments, monthly treatments are often recommended.
Blue Light Therapy Systems
There are several blue light therapy systems available, and they all work by providing a specific frequency of light in order to target the bacteria that cause acne. Detailed below are the common light systems used for the treatment of acne: BLU-U®, ClearLight™, and Omnilux™.
BLU-U® System by Dusa
The BLU-U® Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy Illuminator system by DUSA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. gained FDA approval in 2003 for the treatment of mild to moderate acne. It is a compact light source with u-shaped fluorescent tubes designed to uniformly distribute blue light onto the treatment area. BLU-U® blue light system can be used alone as an acne treatment, or with Levulan® solution as part of blue light photodynamic acne therapy.
Lumenis ClearLight™ Phototherapy
The ClearLight™ Phototherapy system by Lumenis® was approved by the FDA in 2002 for use on moderate acne. It uses a high-intensity, narrow-band blue light to clear skin of acne by destroying bacteria. ClearLight™ may also be used for photodynamic acne therapy by applying Levulan® solution for several minutes before treatment with the blue light.
Omnilux blue™ and Omnilux revive™ Systems
Omnilux blue™ is similar to other blue light therapy systems; however, the system uses LEDs (light emitting diodes) instead of fluorescent tubes or bulbs. Omnilux blue™ can be used with Omnilux revive™, which emits red light, for a combination of blue light and red light therapy. During treatment, acne-causing bacteria are destroyed by the blue light, while the red light reduces inflammation and redness caused by acne lesions. Both systems are used alternately during treatment, and optimal results are typically achieved within four to eight weeks.
Search Cosmetic Dermatologists in Your City
If you are ready to learn more about blue light acne therapy, the use of the BLU-U® or ClearLight® acne treatment systems, or photodynamic therapy, speak with an experienced dermatologist. Visit DocShop’s online directory to find an experienced cosmetic dermatologist in your area.