Into The Deep
In my ongoing battle to prevent cystic acne and refine the texture of my skin, I opted for some home chemical peels and Isolaz thrapy. In this review, I will be talking about the Isolaz treatments I receive at a local medspa, and in a future review I will discuss the merits of a lactic acid chemical peel.
First, let me just say that in my early 20s I did take Accutane for 5 or 6 months. It was hell. I cracked and bled from every joint and orifice and felt like a leper while I was taking it. However, I had clear skin for 10 long years after the experience. If you have acne, good insurance, and don't have a job working directly with customers, Accutane probably is the best treatment. However, if you are of child bearing years and do not have two forms of birth control, it can get tricky due to the high risk of birth defects associated with this medication. Doctors and drug manufacturers just don't want to take any chances and you have to register and take a "pledge" to use a non-barrier contraceptive. I did not want to go back on oral contraceptives due to another problem I had with Yaz several years ago, in addition to the reason I was having bad skin was from stress and depression as a result of several deaths in my family in a short period of time. I did not want to try another round. Accutane can really do a number on your self-esteem while you are on it and this treatment is all about making me feel better about my appearance, so I found a combination of oral antibiotics (spirolactone) and Isolaz therapy a great alternative to the considerable side effects of Accutane.
The Aesthera Isolaz therapy is an amazing technique that combines vacuum suction to clean pores and broadband light that destroys acne-causing bacteria while the pores are open from the suction. This extraction process immediately cleans pores, reduces redness, and flattens any active pimples. The device is a handheld tool with a custom tip that is purchased separately and is registered for your use only. The machine keeps track of how many pulses each tip has had, and will turn off when a new tip is needed to maintain proper suction. You wear protective goggles during treatment due to the laser light, and the technician cleanses your face of oil before beginningand lightly mists it with water throughout the treatment. The misting and suction process is not painful, but it is a little weird to have someone doing this when you can't see because your eyes are taped shut from the googles. Therefore, it is imperative that the technician is friendly and talks you through the process to let you know what they are doing before they touch your face. The light feels warm, just as you feel warm from sunbathing. But the suction is not painful. It feels like little pucker kisses. I really only minded it around my lips and nose where it is hard to get good suction.
On each area being treated, the technican does three passes to ensure they cover the entire area thoroughly. This goes by quickly. I had my back done from the bra strap up to my shoulder blades as well as my face, and three passes took less than a half an hour. You are sun sensitive after treatment, so you always get slathered in oil-free sunscreen before leaving and are told to avoid the sun.
It's truly amazing to see the immediate difference. My skin feels so soft and clean, that it had an interesting effect. I drank more water and didn't eat anything greasy, salty, or sweet that sometimes makes my skin feel blah. I wanted to maintain the purity. I feel much healthier for this treatment.
The pros of Isolaz are plentiful. It can be done by a technician and not a doctor, so you can book appointments easier. You can go right back to work after a treatment with no redness or irritation. You have immediate results-- pores are so clean they are practically invisible and active breakouts are flattened on on their way to being healed. Also, when referred by your dermatologist, insurance usually covers the extraction part of the procedure. For me this was a savings of $125 per session. After 5 sessions (1 treatment every 2 weeks), I was able to go to a 3-month maintenance. Also, the special tip that you must buy for the procedure comes in an "Echo" tip, so you can do twice as many treatments before needing a new one, which can save you $100. I felt a major improvement in my skin after 3 treatments. There was improvement immediately after the first treatment, but by the third, I was really singing the praises of this technology. My skin was softer, clearer, smoother--everything I wanted it to be without feeling burnt or tortured like I do after a chemical peel.
The primary con is the expensive. The cost averaged about $390 per treatment (including laser device tip) and insurance covered $125 of that. So, the initial 5 treatments at $265 was $1325 out of pocket. Keep in mind I did my face and upper back (I get clogged pores from shampoo and conditioner, laundry soap sensitivity, etc.) The other big negative is that the tip does not fit well on the nose, and I think I actually have broken capillaries from the technicians repeatedly trying to get suction. For many people, the nose is the main sourse of oil production and blackheads, so this is a big concern. My nose is not that small, and every single time, it was an ordeal to get suction on all three passes. I also had some experience with my hairline and eyebrows getting singed from the technician placing the device too close. It does not singe light hairs, but anywhere hair is darker, it gets burnt if the tip is placed over it. Another con is that literature said it can help remove red/brown spots, broken capillaries, veins, and unwanted hair, but I did not experience this. I have unwanted white hair that it had no effect on, and I think the device actually made a broken capillary around my nose. I also had some cherry angiomas that I had hoped the Isolaz would lighten so I could cover them easier, but I ended up having a different type of laser therapy to remove them. I'll review that process in another post for this skincare series.
You can see videos of the Isolaz procedure here: http://www.aesthera.com/go/aesthera/news-events/broadcast/And you can see some impressive before and after photos here: http://www.isolaz.com/go/isolaz/photo-video-gallery/acne-pore-purification/
Disclaimer: Reviewer purchased this treatment under recommendation and referral by dermatologist.
Credit: Melanie Parker via Veronica Lake in I Married A Witch