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NEW YORK — When the Food and Drug Administration cleared ClearLight high intensity light as a treatment for adult acne in August, those in search of a drug-free acne-fighting alternative were offered a glimmer of hope — without the jar. ClearLight devices are now entering select dermatologists across the country, with Manhattan being on the short list of cities currently offering the new service.
The ClearLight technology, developed by CureLight Ltd., and distributed by medical device manufacturer Lumenis of Yokneam, Isreal, uses a different wavelength than skin-damaging ultra-violet light. It uses blue light, which triggers the bacteria that causes acne to increase the production of porphyrins, a naturally-occurring toxic substance that fights acne. Recommended for inflammatory acne — as opposed to cystic acne or common blackheads and whiteheads — patients should receive eight treatments over a span of four weeks. Results are said to last four to eight months.
In a study performed by SUNY–Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, two groups of patients were irradiated twice a week with ClearLight, either on the forehead or the cheek for 20 minute sessions.
After eight treatments, the study showed that 80 percent of patients demonstrated a significant reduction in acne.
Photographs showed that 70 percent of the patients with mild to moderate acne showed significant improvement at reducing the number of inflammatory lesions.
ClearLight costs between $75 to $200 a treatment, depending on the doctor, making a one-month regimen cost approximately $600 to $1,600.
Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank of Manhattan is one of the first cosmetic dermatologists in the U.S. to offer ClearLight. Dr. Frank said he heard about the wonders of ClearLight from his European friends last year.
While ClearLight was only cleared for use in the U.S. in August, ClearLight was introduced in Europe in the second half of 2001, said Lumenis chief financial officer, Kevin Morano.
In studies, ClearLight didn’t reveal any side effects commonly connected with acne drugs. Topical treatments, for example, contain active ingredients that initially can exacerbate acne inflammation.
Acne, a disease involving the sebaceous glands of the skin, is estimated to affect more than 80 percent of the world’s population at some time during their life.
According to Morano, 30 percent of all dermatologist visits each year are for acne related causes and, in the U.S., more than $1.4 billion is spent on anti-acne medications and treatments.
Morano expects 400 ClearLight machines to be distributed in the U.S. within the next year.
A product manager for ClearLight said 100 machines are now being sent to dermatologists across the country.
But competitive products may not be far behind. Dr. Frank said he is currently evaluating other laser light sources, such as MedLite and V-Beam, to treat similar acne conditions. The MedLite laser was developed for the removal of tattoos and age spots and acne scars; V-Beam was designed to zap away red spots. Dr. Frank has found that both also help acne. “It happened serendipitously. I was using them to get rid of subtle acne scars and I started to see patients’ acne improving.”