Dr. Batra says this is called purging and is to be expected: “The majority of patients I have treated experienced some degree of purging. Once the oil glands are heated and injured, their contents come to the surface of the skin and worsen acne temporarily.” She assures me, however, that the breakouts will last only for a week and that they should lessen with each subsequent treatment in the series. “As the sebaceous glands recover after treatment, they produce less oil [and the oil is] of a thinner consistency — clearer and less sticky.” That means less acne.
Unfortunately, the purge creates post-inflammatory erythema, or darkened spots, that I now cover with concealer (shout out to Kosas Revealer Creamy + Brightening Concealer). To prevent purging and lessen pigmentation moving forward, Dr. Batra recommends I get another laser — NeoSkin by Aerolase — two weeks after each session. “The Aerolase’s wavelength of 1064 nanometers targets capillaries to reduce inflammation, decrease bacteria that contributes to acne, treat pigmentation, and reduce oil gland production,” she explains. “It works synergistically with AviClear because it is absorbed by different targets in the skin.”
My Skin After Two Treatments
Dr. Batra’s plan for alternating AviClear sessions with NeoSkin is working as intended. It’s been three weeks since my second treatment and I am floored by the results. I go through my monthly period zit-free. Only small cystic pimples emerge on the underside of my chin, which are easily hidden and short in duration. The one good thing about having an active breakout for my appointment is that Dr. Batra can choose to treat it with a diluted Kenalog or Cortisone injection, plus she sees exactly where to apply an extra zap of the device. Overall, my skin is the clearest it’s been in years, and I still have one more treatment ahead of me.
I had to delay my third treatment by two weeks due to scheduling issues. This meant that when I headed in for my final session of AviClear, it was on the exact day of starting my period. The timing is worth mentioning because you can become much more sensitive to pain the week before and during your period. In certain areas, particularly the left side of my face and my upper lip, I found myself involuntarily flinching and jerking with each pass of the laser. For the first time, I requested Pro-Nox (a 50% Oxygen and 50% nitrous analgesia gas) to help make the treatment more bearable. After five deep inhales and exhales through the tube, I felt relaxed, slightly dizzy, and was able to get through to the end of my final treatment.
The Aftercare Rundown
After each AviClear session, Dr. Batra recommends staying off of retinol and other potential skin irritants (including salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin, glycolic acids, vitamin C, and astringents) for 7 to 10 days. She also recommends religiously applying and reapplying sunscreen, and avoiding the sun when possible. To soothe redness you can use chilled compresses or gel packs, though I feel no need to, and you can wear makeup if you want.