My Story, I developed acne around 11 years old, seventh grade. By the time I was in high school I had weekly regular appointments to see a dermatologist. These appointments led to expensive prescriptions, harsh creams and the doctor picking at my face each appointment with a metal instrument. Since it was okay for the doctor to pick at my face, I felt it was okay for me as well. So during my high school years, I spent most nights at my desk in my room with a mirror and a lamp attacking my skin. This abuse was also compounded with the harsh creams and roll-on medications that were prescribed. The acne at this point manifested itself on my back, shoulders, chest, neck and face. Some were cystic and some were just rash like.During this time I was also a very active competitive swimmer. I spent 3-4 hours a day everyday in a bathing suit in front of many people during the fall, winter and spring months. During the summer I was in a suit at least 12 hours a day. I found in the summer my acne wasn’t as bad. This could have been due to the sun exposure I had daily or the lessening of my exposure to chlorine as I swam in lakes. Throughout this time I also taught swim lessons in a bathing suit all the time, and if you know children, they are pretty blunt about stuff they see.
By the time I reached freshman year of college I had visible wounds on my face that took a very long time to heal. When I was in the pool I had no choice by to let my skin be seen for what it was. But outside of the pool, I was always dressed, sometimes in collar neck sweaters to hide the breakouts on my neck and jaw line. I became an expert at hiding. In bright sunlight when others were around, I would put the sun in peoples faces so I could hide in the shadows. I even resorted to pulling my hair around and down my face to hide from view. In college I became a fairly quiet person and hid in my room a lot. I also started my first time treatment of Accutane. Not easy to go through at 18 years old and away from home.
I became an expert at hiding.
This first round of Acutane helped clear all of the acne from my back and most from my neck and chest. The cysts on my face also seemed to diminish. I was under the care of the dermatologist until my parents’ health insurance for me ran out. Acutane, besides being harsh on the body and requiring weekly blood testing, was very hard on my emotions. I lived with these results and one the leftover prescriptions for years.
I started my first full time job at 24 years old. By this time I had noticed that my face failed to heal more often. I had developed dark spots like blood clots under my skin and I still had cysts forming, approximately one cyst a week. Some were so deep in my skin that I couldn’t get them to come out no matter how hard I dug. I also taught children at this time, still in a bathing suit, while trying to command the respect of their parents, as I was an Aquatic Director. I don’t know how much my appearance or my perception of my appearance affected me, but I had to leave this job. During this time I was under the care of another dermatologist. Most of the same creams were prescribed as when I was younger, but this time I was also subjected to an acid burning of my face two to three days a week. This burning was done as often as I could tolerate to diminish the scarring. It really didn’t help much except for the days directly following each treatment.
I eventually worked my way into an office position and left the chlorine behind. This seemed to help my skin sensitivity diminish, but the make-ups and such that I used only made me see more problems. I had now developed deep marks, dark spots, a constant redness to my skin and my pores seemed to be larger. I still experienced constant acne and frequent cysts. I once again visited another dermatologist and after the creams and pills didn’t work I tried Accutane for another session. This treatment reduced most of the breakouts on my chest and neck. It also reduced my cysts to occasional breakouts instead of frequent. None of this did anything to reduce my scarring, reduce my constant acne or improve my sensitivity.
The sensitivity that I am describing may have been slightly in my mind as not wanting anyone to see my face or touch my face. But I also had a hard time finding moistures, make-up and soap that didn’t constantly burn. Also by this point I had a constant red tint to my skin that even covered in make-up showed up vividly in photographs. And I started having to wear my hair pulled back, despite my discomfort with exposing my face that way, because my hair constantly irritated my skin every time it touched it.
Now 10 years after that last dermatologist I am getting married. I have adjusted and accepted that I will be having acne for my entire life. I use the latest products as the market changes and technology advances, but nothing seems to work entirely. I’ve tried ProActive and eventually settled on Murad as the best system. This requires creams, pills, washes and moisturizer. There is stuff that works better than others, but nothing seems to solve all the problems or clean up the damage of years of abuse.
I did some research and found a new laser light treatment that is used for multiple situations depending on the application technique. Finding the Reflections Center has been a blessing and a godsend to me. At 34 years old, I have been undergoing therapy now for just over 8 weeks, which amounted to 4 complete sessions.
After the first week, I noticed a severe reduction, at least 80 percent, of old and new cysts. Cysts that had been under my skin for years, possibly up to 10 years and had become just a bad part of who I am, began to come to the surface and break or peel away. I also noticed that the discoloration, bruising, and blood clots, immediately disappeared after my first treatment. The most noticeable area in cyst reduction was my chin that had been lumpy and hard and painful for years. By the time I entered for my second treatment, the lumps were so far reduced that I felt I looked like a different person.
After the first week, I noticed a severe reduction, at least 80 percent, of old and new cysts.
The second treatment had more dramatic results in my scar reduction. The old cysts continued to diminish, my new cysts hadn’t shown up at all, and my scarring seemed to be less severe and shallower. I looked in the mirror on Christmas Eve to get ready for my family’s open house event and almost cried. I looked like a different person, beyond the scarring and the discoloration being gone or diminished, my face looked different. I looked thinner, healthier and even had a little glow. I took my time to apply make-up and getting dressed and I felt glorious. I never took the time to look nice, because no matter what I did, I either looked fake or red or blotchy or full of craters.
By my third treatment I noticed that the sensitivity that I had to products and my own hair had almost disappeared. I encouraged my fiancé to touch my face, something I hadn’t permitted since we started dating. In addition the constant acne I had experienced, almost like a rash on parts of my face, seems to have faded away.
I am in the stage of healing, about three to five days, from my fourth treatment and can’t wait to see the results. This experience has changed my life. I hope that when I complete my treatments the overall effects last. I have developed only one new cyst that lasted two days since I began treatment. From the beginning of this therapy I discontinued all acne products, creams and pills to see the true test of this therapy. I still haven’t had a need to use anything other then regular soap and water. I buy make-up with enthusiasm now and look forward to meeting new people and going places. I now pull my hair back, not because I have to but because I want to. I don’t feel shy in sunlight or with meeting new people wondering what people are thinking about how terrible I look. I feel confident and instead of looking upon my wedding pictures with dread, I am looking forward and can’t wait to schedule our engagement photography session. Instead of planning to put the photographs in the attic, I look forward to displaying them on the walls and tables of our house for everyone to see. What is most amazing is that Dr. Chasin says the results of this treatment will continue for at least 3 to 6 months! I can’t wait!
If you have been where I have been, I recommend trying this life changing experience. I feel as if I have been reborn in a manner of speaking and have a whole new life ahead of me. I don’t feel like I will have to explain my face to my own children to come or have them be embarrassed about introducing their mom to people. I look forward to filling my photo albums with lots of pictures that aren’t just of my pets! I sincerely hope that this is the answer people like me were looking for. It’s a few days of pain and embarrassment, but it is a lifetime of freedom.