When the acne is gone

This post contains a press experience

Since I started the blog, I have spoken extensively and quite frequently about my relationship with my skin and acne.

What I haven’t written a lot about is what’s left behind, regardless of having active spots or not: the scarring, which is deeper in many ways.

Not only they are a reminder of all the tough times I had with acne, but they also make me feel very conscious of how my skin looks like – as if all the acne wasn’t enough to do that.

I am now long into the journey of loving a skin I hated most of my life and these improvements only came way after I decided to accept the skin I am – it is, after all, the only one I have this lifetime, so I have to love it. And love it I did and started to caring for it as the problematic child it is. Then it finally started to love me back.

No makeup, no filter on my skin – only some lip colour, mascara and eyeliner, because, well…

I came a long way from the excessively long fringe that was always on my cheeks, never having my hair up and caking it with the most unsuitable (for lack of choice at the time) makeup.

Before I go into talking about the latest treatment I tried to help tackle acne scarring, I want to thank Dr. Ariel Haus, who has been brilliant and given me the chance to try something I always want to do but never found the confidence in a professional (and the income) to. So, thank you for inviting me.

Sublative laser is one of the suitable treatments offered at Dr. Haus’ clinic that will not only help with scarring, but is also brilliant for signs of ageing. But I’ll get to that…

Session 1, on evening of treatment, day 2, 3 and 5

As I underwent treatment for texture scars, Dr. Haus increased the power of the laser on each of the 3 sessions.

As as treatments at Haus Dermatoglogy are bespoke, my laser sessions consisted of 3 steps: a salicylic acid peel, that acts as a drying and antibacterial agent on the skin, the laser application on the whole face and finally, a gorgeous peel of mandelic acid and tretinoin, to maximise skin renewal.

Sublative laser is a process that makes microscopic holes in the outer layer of skin (dermis) to target damaged cells deep in the dermal layer, thus being more appropriate for my old, deeper scars, which are hard to tackle.

Worth mentioning that before the treatment, there is a patch test and a form, with a psychological evaluation as it is very important for Dr. Haus that people have realistic expectations of their results, especially when something that affects them as much as my scars do.

Session 2, on evening of treatment, day 2, 4, and 5

The peels do not hurt, at all. The laser, on the other hand, is another story. It is nothing unbearable and numbing cream is applied beforehand, but each zap is not a very pleasant experience. Having said that, they are well worthy it.

Depending on how many treatments you had, you can stay with the last peel for longer. On my 3rd treatment, I left it overnight and washed in the morning. After each treatment, when you wash you face for the first time, you can a smell burnt skin a little bit. Fear not, this is normal, but weird.

In all cases, about 2 days after the treatment, my skin started peeling. And by day 3-4, it was like my face was falling off. Overall, I had 3 days of heavy peeling and things started looking more normal again and I could use light makeup.

During the treatment, professionalism and care are second to none at the clinic – not just from Dr. Ariel Haus, which is sympathetic, caring, gentle and thorough in his methods and explanations, but from his staff, especially his clinical practitioner (and sweetest professional ever) and his front of the house staff.

Session 3, on evening of treatment, day 1, 3 and 6

And after you leave, you feel reassured not only by the comprehensive after care instructions and products provided, but the knowledge you’ll be supported should you have any questions or concerns post-treatment.

In terms of results, obviously there are no miracles when it comes to acne scarring. I did however, noticed an improvement in texture; some shallower scars have disappeared, some deeper seem shallower. Make up sits better and overall condition improved and even my active, hormonal acne has decreased a bit.

As for anti ageing, I noticed superior contour on my face – not even joking: my cheekbones are higher and fuller, the under eye area is slightly plumper and lighter.

Some may say it is a small improvement for a relatively high investment but when you have lived with something that affects you so much psychologically, any visible improvement has a huge impact on mental wellbeing and perception of self, so I highly recommend if you can pursue.

The last session was completed well over a year ago (and I miss Dr. Haus), but this wasn’t the last measure in my quest to leaving the effects of acne behind and searching for my true skin.

It might feel such a long time ago to talk about now, but for these procedures I feel we can only talk about results at least 6 months after it is done as skin takes time to regenerate and the results are meant to be long lasting, as long as the source of the scarring does not come back to create new ones.

Plus, I find the actual writing about my skin takes a lot from me emotionally and it is always a hard subject to approach. So here it is – expected, long last results with some bonuses thrown in for good measure.

You can get more information on Dr. Haus’ impressive aesthetic medicine credentials, awards (yep, I said it) and multitude of cutting edge treatments on their website.

Get in touch via phone on +44 20 7935 6358 or email for appointments: appointments@drhausdermatology.com.

They are based on Harley Street and have a fantastic clinical and support team to deliver truly tailored, solution based, tech-forward treatments that are build especially to your needs for optimal results, be it medical or aesthetic for face and body.

And very soon I will also talk about the big one: ablative laser…

I was invited to receive the treatments prescribed by Dr. Haus after consultation, with no obligation to post.

Fighting acne

woman with hands on face - credit: www.amhc.org

image credit: amhc.org

First, apologies for the long post. This is not an easy post for me. I don’t use my blog to vent, or to moan. I have hung on to this unpublished post for almost three months now and although the situation has improved since I wrote it, I am far from happy. My blog is beauty related, and there you go, I don’t really feel beautiful sometimes because of this. I don’t think I ever spoke this openly and in-depth about this issue that has accompanied me for about 18 years now. To me, it is always visible,  its scars are ever so present, as a painful reminder of everything I had to work through all these years.

I started suffering from acne at around 15. There were just pimples in the beginning but soon they became huge painful boils under my skin, which was always red and swollen. My face was always the only place where they would appear.

When I was 17, I had my first treatment with Roaccutane, a powerful retinoid from the vitamin A family. I took it for six months and the side effects were horrendous: body aches, soft tissue extreme dryness, cracked and bleeding lips. It was awful, but I came off the other side with great skin, and thought I had won.

However, six years on, when I moved to London my skin reached a state it had never been before; the boils were back, bigger, deeper and more painful than ever. So much so that the GP suggested I saw a dermatologist. And they told me what I really dreaded: Roaccutane was the only way out. Terrified of the side effects, I said I didn’t want to go through all that again. Once is enough and I would rather live with the acne. I was lying. nothing is as bad as living with it. So I entered another course, this time during a whole year on a lower dosage, so cut down the side effects. Once again, the medication worked its magic and I had a spot-free face.

But the two violent bouts of acne cost me dearly, I was left with the scars to remember, everyday, all the pain it had inflicted on me during the best years of my life. I am not saying I lost my confidence; although there were lows, I have always been an outspoken, extrovert, confident woman who never let the acne define me. It could’ve been much worse in that respect – but I remain sensitive about it.

One good thing it gave me is my love of make up, which stems from the need to hide myself for years. I had a long fringe that would conveniently cover my cheeks most of the time. I think most of my acne trauma is in fact, due to the incessant treatments, and the physical pain of the boils. As only the scars were left, I decided it was time to face the world, however ugly I believe they are. And I did. I left all those feelings in the past and embraced a pull back do.

But recently my skin hasn’t been happy and the breakouts are re-occurring. Not the monthly ones, which I learnt to ignore. They are cystic again, they are growing on top of each other, a classic sign of when things are going bad…. you wouldn’t probably be able to see them, but I know they are there. Hurting.

So I went to the doctor and I was told I could get a referral to a dermatologist, who would probably put me on Roaccutane, I broke down in tears. I cannot do that to myself again. So I went on antibiotics for a while – and improvement is pathetic for me to be pumping myself up with drugs everyday. I hate my scars. I always hated them so much, but now it’s serious. I had enough.

The final low was this bright red, sore spot bang on my cheek.Why won’t it just leave me alone? I should be worrying about wrinkles at this age… not freaking acne!

This time it is really affecting me. I want it to go away, I want the scars to go away and I never want to remember this was part of me for all this time. It is more than half my life. And I got myself thinking about taking Roaccutane again… and that makes me really sad. It looks like acne cornered me again…

I tried everything. Products do help, recently Skinetica and the Elemis range have been helping to control it without being too aggressive (yeah, I am also tired of slapping things on that make me red, flaky, horrible). However, it is always there and suddenly, I have an awful bout and it gets much worse. Medical advice that is not Roaccutane seem to be useless.

This is haunting me and I thought it was finally time to put it out there. I cannot keep this to myself anymore. Lots of stuff now cross my mind. Could Roaccutane be the way, again? Being such a strong medication, is it safe for me to have it for the third time? If I decide to get pregnant in the next couple of years (I am no spring chicken, I really need to decide soon if I am to), could it affect my baby? I know the textbook answer to those questions, as I read extensively on the drug. But the questions will always be in the back of my head. “Am I giving myself a bigger risk of liver disease?” “Am I jeopardising my fertility?” . Also, is there something I have not found yet that can help me?

I have decided I will not take it again. There *must* be another way.  But the biggest question of all still remains: “Will I ever be free from it?”.


ps. I’d like to thank Grace from All that Slap, who has talked openly on her blog about a highly sensitive issue she faces – it inspired me to talk seconda and she encouraged me to do the same. Thank you for the support! x