How we work on Adult Acne
There are different types and grades of acne, but the one we are most commonly seeing in clinic over the past decade is the adult acne that forms when women in particular reach their mid-20s to late 30s. This is the kind of acne commonly called 'hormonal acne', though in truth all acne has some hormonal component.
Please take a moment to read this entire page before choosing who to trust with your acne therapy, because the results you receive can vary greatly, and commencing acne treatment can easily eat through many thousands of dollars before you see a result, if you choose the wrong practitioner.
Firstly we discover the history of your body, including when the acne first appeared, what was going on hormonally for you before that time and since.
We need to know your history of pregnancies, miscarriages, surgeries, dieting and stress load past and present.
With a complete picture, your acne treatment becomes customised and results can be accelerated.
Your treatment protocol will include regular visits to the clinic, for treatments designed to re-establish barrier function so your skin can fight it's own battles against bacteria.
Nutrition advice helps you to fight inflammation from within and ensures you eat the building blocks needed to make anti-inflammatories within your skin.
Once inflammation and infection are under control, we move to scar revision.
Scarring left untreated can lead to acne backlash, especially as the skin becomes healthier. We meet a lot of clients who've have acne treatmnet elsewhere, their acne gets 70% cleared, they are pretty happy with the results so they stop there.
Big mistake, the backlash usually takes only a few months to appear and when you've had a moment of clear skin, it is heart-breaking.
It's important to take a long-term view of acne resolution. We plan your budget and treatments over time, so you don't get 'treatment fatigue' and stop coming at that critical moment when the work is almost done. This is done at your initial appointment and it's customised to your needs.
Hormonal acne is far more than bacteria, infection and scarring though. It is driven by a change in hormones that is abnormal or unhealthy for more reasons than acne. We consider hormonal acne a sign of far more serious health concerns, and will always encourage you to work with your GP to ensure your overall hormonal health gets improved along the way.
What we want you to know about taking Hormonal Medication for Hormonal Acne.
With all of the above said, we'd like you to know a few things about the treatments typically offered to Melbourne women in medical clinics, before you go. Empowering yourself with information can lead to a more productive GP visit, and a healthier body in the future.
Here is a common scenario...
You got through teenage years without acne.
You reach adulthood and suddenly you get acne.
If you have acne because of your hormones, it often means you are not hormonally healthy.
It usually means you have too much of something, and not enough of something else.
The option exists to replace your hormones with bio-identical ones. That is to say, hormones which are the very same molecular structure as what your skin naturally makes.
Because your body recognises these molecules, the side effects are not as confrontational as, say, the contraceptive pill or HRT.
It is important to note that when you are prescribed a synthetic hormonal medication such as a contraceptive pill or injection, the hormone you receive is not the same molecular structure as the one your body makes, and this is why these medicines produce unwanted side effects.
We meet many women who have been told that their hormonal medications are faithfully replacing the hormone they are lacking, when in fact this cannot be true - they are receiving a modified version of this hormone, not bio-identical, hence the side effects.
Bio identical means the same shaped molecule your human body makes.
There are some things to know about this approach.
Firstly it requires more work.
You must have regular tests of your hormones to monitor the levels.
The dose might need to be adjusted a few times to get your levels right.
It is not covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme paid for by the Australian Government. You therefore need to pay for it out of your own pocket.
Prescriptions are around $50-$100 each.
The prescription is filled by a compounding pharmacist. This is a pharmacist who makes drugs to order onsite. They are not found in your franchise or cut price chemist shops.
The results are very good when a skilled, caring physician guides the process.
So why haven't you heard about it?
There are lots of reasons women are typically not offered this therapy.
Firstly, your GP typically provides options to people that are on the PBS. If you're in a bulk billed clinic or a general health clinic it's unlikely you will be given options that cost more than a standard prescription.
GPs are extremely busy, and this is an area of special interest. A GP needs to get to know the doses, adjustments, etc. and work closely with the patient to get the amounts right for her unique body and levels. In a time when people walk into medical centres expecting a solution now, today plus a medical certificate for work please, the pressure on GPs to give prescription-based solutions on the spot is very high. In most busy city clinics you would need to reserve an extended consultation, find the right GP, and return for multiple appointments as you work out the right doses. We think it's worth it.
Naturopaths, herbal medicine practitioners and herbalists will not usually recommend bio identical hormones as an option, because it's still a prescription-required medicine, so they cannot prescribe it to you. They tend to make as much money from the herb and supplements they sell as they do from consultation, a strong incentive to recommend what they can sell directly. It's also just not their philosophy. They will offer herbs such as wild yam, which contains diosgenin, something that your body absolutely cannot turn into the hormones it needs. These therapies have not changed in decades, even when new research has disproven them.
There are great medical doctors who work with bio identical hormones specifically, however they tend to be so busy that they tend to only take new patients who are children of existing patients. In the past, compounding pharmacists around Melbourne would maintain a list of supportive GPs we could refer to, however they are now all so busy they have asked the pharmacists to stop offering these lists.
The best option is to speak with your own trusted family doctor about why you feel you may need tests, and why you are interested in these option, then take their advice about the best course of action for you. If your doctor is ready to work with you on it, there are great resources you can share with them, or read up on yourself. The website below is a great place to start.
For more information about why we think this is a great way to work with skin alongside our treatments, please see the following website
What we think about 'alternative therapies' for Acne treatment.
This section is called 'don't hate us for telling the truth' so bear with us.
Alternative or 'natural' therapists often claim to be able to treat skin 'from within' using herbs, supplements, some even use crystals or 'energy clearing'. All tend to sell the pills and herbs they recommend, often making more money from the sale of them than they do from the consultation. Right now it's popular to diagnose everyone with a gut issue and set them on a 'gut healing' path. Actual gut specialists everywhere are groaning in annoyance at this over-diagnosing.
When it comes to acne treatment, we take issue with it because it is frankly impossible to completely fix established acne from within.
Acne can only be cleared 'from within' in the very early stages.
Established acne involves structural changes in the shape of the tissue, and the size of the structural oil glands which are permanant. Unless something is done to physically break them down and regrow them, full resolution is not possible. Only prescription medications designed to drastically shrink oil glands can do this from within, and the side effects are daunting.
While taking herbs, vitamin supplements and improving your diet can help you get better nutrition, it absolutely cannot affect the structural changes in your tissue. These changes require a skin therapist to physically break the tissue down and regrow it under controlled circumstances.
We recommend you work with your GP on your hormonal health, your skin therapist on your skin health, and your qualified dietician on your nutritional health.
The best results come with you work with highly qualified experts in each field. It's your skin on the line.
*Disclaimer: if you know a natural therapies practitioner who gets great results, they can certainly be your ally in overall wellness. They're just not the person to treat your acne. Acne is a condition that is not simply chemical (what goes in/on, versus out), it is structural. This requires skin treatment.