“Would you like to be young again?” Toronto physician Ken Walker sometimes ask patients. Many people would jump at the chance of getting back years. But when I ask, “Would you want to revisit those acne years when you were the butt of jokes from classmates?” many say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
For many, the psychological trauma of that time was a passing problem. But unsightly depressions and scars that remain are another matter. Fortunately, there’s now a way to remove them.
Acne affects up to 85 per cent of young people and 11 per cent of adults 25 and older. There are few diseases more aggravating for both adults and teenagers. It’s a time when young people need acceptance and self-assurance. And for both, the daily embarrassment of a face and neck peppered with blackheads and pimples can make life miserable.
Acne begins in the skin’s oil glands found in large numbers on the face, neck and back. But unlike Saudi Arabia’s oil wells these secrete a waxy substance called, “sebum.” And although our world has diminishing supplies of oil, our oil glands can be too active. It’s this overabundance of sebum that blocks the opening of the glands causing a “whitehead.”
If pressure becomes too great, sebum forces its way to the surface forming a “blackhead.” The colour is due to pigment, not dirt. Bacteria add to the problem. One bacterium called “P acnes” multiplies, resulting in varying degrees of inflammation.
Victims often add to the trouble. It’s been said that, “He who treats himself has a fool for a patient.” All too often anxious patients use unproven remedies or the wrong cosmetics that plug the skin’s openings. This is understandable, as who wouldn’t want to hide such a public offence?
Another major mistake sets the stage for future trouble. It’s hard to keep acne sufferers from picking at uncomfortable, scaly, sore and itchy lesions. In severe cases this constant picking of large blackheads leads to permanent scarring. Small wonder this condition often leads to clinical depression.
Topical treatments such as lotions, creams and glycolic acid peels may be all that’s needed for mild to moderate cases of acne. These agents help to decrease the activity of follicles and lessen the impact.
But for years the major question has been how to rid the face of these unsightly holes and scars. Unlike patching pot holes in a road, there’s never been an easy answer. Some patients have been helped by glycolic acid peel treatments. Fortunately, there’s now a filler called ArteSense.
ArteSense contains polymethyl methacrylate, an inert material that’s been used for more than 60 years in ocular lenses, dental work, bone repair and artificial hips. The microscopic beads of PMMA are suspended in a solution of collagen. This solution, along with a minute amount of anesthetic, lidocaine, is inserted by a fine needle into the skin’s lower layers.
Collagen is a vital skin protein that gives bulk and structure to skin, but is gradually lost with aging. Like mortar that binds bricks, collagen is also the glue that holds cells together. After ArteSense is injected it triggers a response by the body to form its own collagen and fill unwanted scars. This process of producing new collagen requires two to three months. And unlike Botox injections, ArteSense lasts 10 years or longer.
Dr. Peter Adamson, one of Canada’s top plastic surgeons says, “ArteSense has a high satisfaction rate of 80 to 90 per cent when used judiciously.”
ArteSense has now been used safely in more than 400,000 patients worldwide. As with any injectable implant there can be redness, swelling, bruising and itchiness, which normally subside in a few days. Cold compresses usually ease the symptoms. And always remember the doctor with the most training and experience gets the best results.
One caution following the injection. You don’t walk on cement until it dries. So following the procedure, don’t look at humorous material that would make you smile or laugh for 48 to 72 hours. This allows the implanted material time to settle into place.
So if I repeated my question, with ArteSense now available, would you like to be 16 again?
Gifford-Jones is the pen name of Toronto physician Ken Walker. He can be contacted through his website at: www.mydoctor.ca.