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Cutting Edge Medical Acne Treatment in Chicago

Acne is a skin condition that can cause blackheads and whiteheads, or comedones, as well as red pimples and large nodules. These most often appear on the face, but they are also commonly seen on the upper body and buttocks.

Acne prone skin can be hereditary, but it is often hormone-related, as well. Most acne subsides in a person’s twenties, but many individuals continue to experience acne throughout adulthood. A variety of treatment options are available to reduce breakouts and acne scars. Meeting with an acne specialist at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology is a step in the right direction.

What Is The Root Cause Of Acne?

Normal skin contains glands that secrete sebum, which is meant to keep skin soft and healthy. When these glands are overly active, the sebum is secreted and sticks to the attached hair follicles, which in turn clogs the pores.

If there is no inflammation involved, the clogged pore becomes one of two types of comedones. Closed comedones are whiteheads, and open comedones are blackheads. The dark coloring of blackheads is due to chemical changes in the cells, not dirt or oil.

If a type of bacterium called “Propionibacterium acnes” thrives off the sebum and grows, it activates the immune system and leads to inflammatory acne.

Doctor prepares a white woman's face for acne treatment. Patient wears a white robe, plastic cap, and lies on a medical bed.

How to Reduce Acne Outbreaks

There are several ways to help reduce the severity and frequency of acne outbreaks. Avoiding certain triggers, adhering to a regular skincare regimen, and medical treatments can all contribute to healthy looking skin.

Things to Avoid

  • Excessive stress or chronic stress can activate or intensify acne breakouts.
  • Makeup containing any type of oil can exacerbate the pore clogging issue; instead, opt for water-based, non-comedogenic cosmetics.
  • Rubbing skin or scrubbing too enthusiastically can actually aggravate acne, so simply cleanse the skin gently two or three times daily.
  • Squeezing acne lesions should be avoided, as it can lead to infection and further inflammation.
  • Trigger foods that may include sugar, chocolate, or dairy products can aggravate breakouts.

Things to Add

There are several procedures, medications, and supplements that can help treat your acne breakouts. Because skin cells take a full month to regenerate, give new treatments two or three months before you expect to see results.

  • Benzoyl peroxide in face washes and moisturizers help kill the bacteria that causes acne flares. (Warning: May bleach clothing, towels, sheets, etc.)
  • Glycolic and salicylic acids are contained in many face washes, toners, lotions, and chemical peels. These acids target clogged pores and work to regulate the skin regeneration process.
  • Omega 3 supplements are a great way to improve the overall health of skin.
  • Retinoids/Vitamin A products can be used every night and work to open clogged pores. They can also help reduce inflammation and discoloration.
  • Your diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables with very little refined sugar.

Is this NEW Acne treatment an Alternative to Accutane? [AviClear]

Board-Certified Acne Dermatologists in Chicago

Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology is proud to offer several safe and effective acne treatments right here in our office.


AviClear is a high-tech laser procedure selectively targets sebaceous glands to reduce sebum production. Our laser technology  is safe for use on all skin types, and eliminates acne without medication.

BBL Hero

This BroadBand Light (BBL) utilizes blue, yellow, and infra-red light to kill acne-causing bacteria. The result is fewer breakouts, reduced inflammation, and faster natural healing.

We also recommend the following services for our acne-prone clients:

To learn more about our acne treatments or to schedule an appointment, please contact Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology.

Questions? We can help!

What is acne?

The term acne is used to describe a condition which may include comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), red pimples, and even large nodules. The condition affects mainly the face, but may appear on the shoulders, back, chest, arms, and buttocks. The tendency towards acne often, but not always, runs in families.

The cause starts with the sebaceous (oil) glands that connect to hair follicles. These glands of the skin secrete and oily material called sebum, which normally softens and lubricates the skin. The sebaceous glands become most active at puberty, leading to somewhat oily skin. The oil is excreted into the hair follicles which creates plugging of the hair follicles with dead skin cells. When there is no inflammation, this leads to closed comedones (whiteheads) or open comedones (blackheads). The black color is not due to dirt, but rather from chemical changes in the cells. Finally, a bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes thrives off of the sebum, overgrows, and attracts your body’s immune cells, leading to inflammation and red bumps or nodules.

In most patients, acne tends to subside late in the teens to early twenties. Some patients continue to experience acne throughout adulthood. It is impossible to predict when acne will disappear. While the condition is active, it may alternately erupt and then improve.

Severe or prolonged stress may aggravate acne. That’s why acne may flare up before examinations, weddings, during new jobs, etc. In women, acne may flare shortly before menstruation because of the influence of hormonal factors. Foods that are high in sugars, like chocolate, milk and soda pop may aggravate acne. Avoiding these and other high sugar foods will improve their complexions. In general, the best diet for those with acne is a low refined sugar diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Omega 3’s (fish oil or algae pills) can be beneficial as well (take 2000 mg/day).

Cosmetics containing oil should be avoided as this can lead to plugging of the skin’s pores. It is best to avoid heavy greases or gels in the hair especially if you have acne around the hairline. Look for cosmetics that are “oil free”, “water-based”, “non-comedogenic.” Colorescience Pressed Powder Foundation SPF 20 or Primer SPF 20 provide chemical free matte coverage.

Rubbing and scrubbing of the face will eventually aggravate acne. Cleansing two to three times a day is adequate, but washing vigorously may cause more inflammation. Squeezing of acne lesions should also be avoided as it may lead to more irritation, inflammation and prolongation of redness.

There are number of different medications which can help control acne, from mild to severe forms. Remember, all medications for acne may take 2-3 months to help, as your skin takes 30 days to cycle.

Below are some product tips and acne treatments to consider for blemish prone skin. Please visit our skin care store in the acne section for purchases: Chicago Skin Science

Glycolic Acids (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and Salicylic Acids (Beta Hydroxy Acids) – Contained in washes, toners, lotions and peels, these acids help to unplug pores and regulate the skin cycling process. They even help to fade the red spots that occur after acne breakouts.

Benzoyl Peroxides (Purify BPO Wash, Purify Daily Acne Gel) – Benzoyl peroxide creams and washes help to kill off the bacteria which cause acne. The bacteria cannot become resistant to it. Be careful though, benzoyl peroxide can bleach your clothing, towels and sheets!

Retinoids/Vitamin A (PCA Intensive Clarifying Retinol 0.5%, CCSD Reverse Tretinoin, 0.25% or 0.5%) – Used nightly, Retinoids work by opening up plugged pores and decrease inflammation and pink or dark spots. They make the skin cells less sticky, so patients may notice mild flaking of the skin when first used. They will take several months to help unplug pores, as the skin takes one month to cycle.

EltaClear SPF46 – sunscreen with an anti-inflammatory ingredients to reduce acne and redness.

Various acne treatments are offered by our esthetics department, below are some of our favorites for acne prone patients!

DiamondGlow Microdermabrasion with salicylic acid and Bakuchiol (a natural antibiotic) helps clear comedonal and inflammatory acne faster.

Deep Pore Cleansing- combines microdermabrasion with extractions.

Acne Extraction Treatment- a light steam, detox gel, plus extractions.

PCA Masks Clarifying 20% Sal Acid or Pumpkin (Sal Acid plus Pumpkin enzymes)

PCA Peels -customized to treat acne and spots and cause mild exfoliation in 3-5 days.

CCSD Restart Peels creates moderate peeling with 8 peeling agents and retinol.

BLU-U Light Therapy For Acne – kills off the acne causing germ and reduces breakouts.

Dr. Ibrahim is AMAZING. He has such a wonderful ‘bed side manner’ and his experience is multifaceted. I go to him for both regular skin concerns and cosmetic reasons and he has been able to help with every issue I have! He is by far the best dermatologist I have been to and I recommend him 100%

— Maddy V.


1,000+ reviews

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