Frequently Asked Questions

This page offers answers to many questions we hear every day about acne treatment. However, if you have additional thoughts or need clarification, please get in touch with us.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

No and no. We only treat acne, as opposed to dermatologists that treat many skin conditions. By contrast to dermatologists and med spas, we spend hours of time working with you on your skin and tweaking our approach without prescription medications or lasers. While some acne patients do need a dermatologist’s help, we believe the vast majority of people can achieve clear skin without prescriptions or lasers.

We created Clinically Clear out of a desire to help people suffering from acne get clear skin. Like you, we have lived with acne and struggled to find a sustainable solution. When we were searching for treatments, we weren’t interested in spending unnecessary time and money at a luxury spa. We wanted a straightforward, convenient, no-nonsense solution. We know many acne sufferers feel the same way. The Clinically Clear treatment approach is designed to heal acne quickly and give people tools to maintain clear skin for life. We know you don’t want to be in our office more than you have to. That’s why our mantra is: treat you, equip you, and let you get on with your life.

ACNE TREATMENT QUESTIONS

Here’s more information regarding our treatment process. You’ll learn more about what to expect in treatment during your consultation as well. Book your initial consultation here.

Our skin is designed to shed a layer somewhat frequently. Acne is in part caused when skin cells are slow to shed, or “turnover.” We help remove the outermost skin cells with light peels or scrubs. For peels, we apply a few layers of product onto clean skin, allow it to sit, then remove it. This works to stimulate exfoliation and soften the skin in preparation for extractions during our facials. The type of peel your esthetician applies will depend on a number of factors, including where you are in the treatment process, skin sensitivity/allergies, and your skin color (the use of chemical peels on darker skin can cause hyperpigmentation).

An enzyme peel is a blend of naturally-occurring proteins (typically from fruits) that exfoliate dead skin cells without scrubbing. Enzyme peels are also non-acidic and leave the skin pH balanced, which protects against acne. Generally speaking, enzyme peels are gentler and more appropriate for highly sensitive skin and for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Many estheticians will first test an enzyme on their clients before moving on to more aggressive chemical peels.

A chemical peel follows a similar application but uses acids to exfoliate the most superficial layer of the skin. There are many types of acids used in superficial chemical peels, including glycolic, lactic, mandelic, and salicylic acids. Because chemical peels remove the skin’s outermost layer, skin is extremely sensitive to the sun for 1-2 weeks afterward. Clients should avoid direct sun exposure during this time to minimize risk of skin discolorations (dark or light spots). In addition, some clients may experience redness and mild “flaking” 3-4 days after their chemical peel.

We use blue and red light therapy, via an LED (light-emitting-diode) lamp, to supplement our acne treatment. Blue light wavelengths penetrate skin layers to help kill acne bacteria and reduce inflammation and excess oil (called “sebum”). Red light wavelengths penetrate even deeper into the skin and may actually shrink sebaceous (oil) glands in addition to reducing inflammatory acne spots. While we still need more conclusive and broader research on light therapy and its role in treating acne, we feel there is enough evidence to support the use of in-office LED lights as part of a comprehensive acne treatment approach.

The former “Accutane” and similar names (Absorica, Myorisan, etc.) are branded forms of the generic drug isotretinoin. Isotretinoin is an oral medication that works by slowing the body’s production of oil (called sebum), which limits the opportunity for pores to clog with bacteria and turn into acne. Because of the drug’s severe side effects, the medicine is only prescribed for the most severe acne cases (after other treatments have failed) and requires close supervision by the prescribing doctor. The good news is that for people with the most severe acne, isotretinoin can help after other treatments have failed.

You may have noticed that the generic name “isotretinoin” has the same root word as “retinoid/retinol,” “Retin-A,” and “tretinoin.” The latter three are topical forms of vitamin A-derivative medications and contain many of the same side effects as the oral medication, such as skin dryness and sun sensitivity. However, unlike the oral medication, topical forms are considered safe in proper doses and are widely used in mainstream acne treatment.

You can learn more about isotretinoin from the following sources: Medline.gov; AAD.org; and Drugs.com.

We can, but your treatment plan will look a bit different. We won’t be able to do peels, extractions, or light therapy, and we won’t give you any products that exfoliate the skin. Instead, we’ll create a treatment plan that focuses on acne education, lifestyle/nutrition changes, and combating medicine-induced dryness with acne-safe topical applications. Even without our traditional in-office treatments, we can work to keep your acne under control after you stop taking isotretinoin.

If you’d like to experience the full Clinically Clear treatment, including extractions, peels, and light therapy, we can see you 6-12 months after you have stopped taking the medication. Your doctor must also verify in writing that you have been off isotretinoin, or any of its derivatives under other trade names, for at least 6 months.

During your consultation, you’ll fill out a history form. Please let us know all of the medications you take (both prescription and over-the-counter, including aspirin) so that we can plan for and avoid any risky interactions with our take-home products and medical facials. This includes any oral antibiotics, oral steroids, oral contraceptives, and any other hormone therapy, whether or not it was prescribed by your doctor to treat acne.

We can’t take care of all acne scarring. We do, however, treat hyperpigmentation, one of the two types of scarring. This scarring presents as brown or red spots and is from former acne-affected areas. Often, these scars exist because pores are still clogged. We can’t guarantee correction in all hyperpigmentation cases because of the cellular nature of the issue. However, in many cases, our aestheticians can work to correct the scarring by fully extracting the area (cleaning out the pore). The combination of in-office treatments, use of our products at home, and time helps to heal redness and hyperpigmentation.

Textural scarring, on the other hand, is a bit more challenging. This type of scarring gives the skin a textured, uneven appearance with raised skin, dimples, and pockmarks. Our treatments can reduce the formation of new textural scars and helps bring acne under control before scarring starts to develop. To treat severe textural scarring, intervention by a dermatologist is often necessary. If you have textural scarring, we are happy to refer you to someone who can assist.

Yes, we do. Acne rosacea can sometimes be more tricky to treat; however, we have specialized protocols to address it. Even if it takes a bit longer to get under control, many of our clients see huge improvements in their skin.

We wish we could guarantee treatment will make every client’s skin look brand new. However, every person’s skin, acne, and situation is different, and there are so many factors at play with acne treatment. We do promise to customize your treatment plan for your specific issue, and we will do everything in our power to clear your skin. And, honestly, even if your situation requires a longer or more complicated treatment process, we believe you will see improvement in your acne if you stick with us—particularly if you adhere strictly to your at-home regimen. We hope you’ll give us a shot.

This also greatly depends on your particular acne situation and your commitment to your at-home skincare regimen. Many clients will see improvement within 4-6 weeks (and three visits) and be clear within 3-6 months. It is important to understand that before an acne spot even appears on your face, it has been forming within your skin for about 6 weeks. (Read more about the acne life cycle here.) Therefore, it will take at least that amount of time to clear your existing acne spots and new ones as they form. Then, depending on how quickly your skin responds to treatment, it will likely take another 6 weeks to train your skin to “behave” by using your at-home regimen and our medical facials.

SKINCARE QUESTIONS

We want you to have a successful outcome (read: clear skin) after treatment, and your homecare regimen has the biggest influence on that outcome. If your current skincare regimen and products aren’t healing your acne, it’s probably time to part with them. We handpicked our range of products after years of treating acne and discovering the best ingredients for clearing skin. We believe our products contain the solution you’re looking for, regardless of your skin type or acne severity. And if you have any issues with one of our products, we’re happy to trade it with something better suited for you.

Not necessarily. After acne treatment, when you have been acne-free for at least 6 months, you can taper off our products and replace them with alternatives to see how your skin reacts. Continue tapering if your skin remains clear. If you see a negative reaction, discontinue use of the alternative. This is a sign that it’s either too soon to wean off, or the new product you’re using isn’t a good fit for your skin. So, you likely won’t need to use our products forever. However, basic products like cleansers, toners, serums/exfoliators, moisturizers, and sunscreens are a must if you want to continue experiencing healthy skin.

We know it might seem counterintuitive to use moisturizer on your skin when it already feels oily. And you may have felt in the past that moisturizer “made you break out” or “clogged your pores” (remember, pimples begin forming in the skin about 6 weeks before they actually appear). However, it is essential to keep your skin hydrated so that it retains water. When your skin is dehydrated, it over-produces oil. And because acne treatment products dry out the skin and reduce oil production, it’s important to keep your skin balanced by applying moisturizers suitable for acne-prone skin. Rest assured, the moisturizers in our product line are intended for clients receiving acne treatment; one is oil-free and specifically formulated for oily, acneic skin. And you won’t need to use much of the product–just enough to re-hydrate your skin.

Some people think that a sunburn helps to clear up zits. However, many people don’t realize that pimples begin forming in the skin about 6 weeks before they actually appear. While some sun may seem to dry out existing zits, direct sun exposure damages and irritates the skin, which often causes an overproduction of oil (thus, more breakouts). In addition to that, some of the products in your at-home regimen and in-office treatments like chemical peels make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Too much sun exposure while you’re using these products can result in skin discolorations. That’s why we ask clients to wear sunscreen every day. And, if you have an active, outdoor lifestyle, we ask that you reapply it often and consider wearing a hat. You’ll still get plenty of healthy rays.

Why can’t I continue to use my favorite makeup?

We strongly recommend you limit makeup while you’re working to clear your skin. The less “stuff” you put on your skin, the less risk for clogged pores. If you must wear makeup, we highly recommend you switch to mineral makeup. There are some terrific mineral-based BB creams, tinted moisturizers, and powders on the market, many of which also contain sunscreen. We have suggested a few brands here, because not all makeups with “mineral” or “non-comedogenic” labels are acne-safe. Eye makeup and lip color are fine to use. If you do choose to wear makeup, please DO clean your makeup brushes every other week.

There are so many studies – and conflicting conclusions – on which foods contribute to acne. However, there is some consensus that acne-prone individuals should avoid common allergens like dairy, peanuts, gluten, sugar, and soy products, as well as foods high in iodine. Beyond that, some people have different acne triggers; we’ll discuss your particular diet and potential acne triggers during your consultation. We believe a healthy, clean diet will benefit your acne treatment, so we strongly recommend eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins and limiting processed foods as much as possible. Ultimately, of course, it’s up to you. But part of your treatment plan will include nutrition recommendations based on your skin and your acne condition.

QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR POLICIES

As a general rule, no. We believe the best results come from committing to an at-home and in-office treatment regimen over a 3-4-month time period. Because of that, we typically require all clients to have an initial consultation, then follow our treatment plan. Of course, after you’ve completed treatment with us, you’re welcome to come in for periodic maintenance facials.

Absolutely! Just have one of your parents sign our release form and your intake forms, and you’re good to go.

We do! There are certain treatments that pregnant and nursing women should avoid to keep the baby safe, such as light therapy and any products with vitamin A or salicylic acid, and we are careful to use alternatives until you have given birth and/or are no longer breastfeeding.

The cost depends on the condition of your acne and on your treatment package. You can get a general idea of our fees here. If you have additional questions, give us a call at 404.521.5147.

We accept credit cards only and we do not directly bill insurance companies (most insurance plans won’t cover elective services such as ours). However, if you have flex spending (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA) with your plan, we recommend checking with your insurance company to see if you can use these benefits for acne treatment.

Running behind: We ask clients to arrive 10 minutes before their appointment to get checked in. However, we do understand traffic. If you are running more than 10 minutes late, please notify us so we can try to accommodate you and ensure this doesn’t affect clients scheduled after you. Otherwise, we may consider you a no-show and cancel your appointment. We do charge for cancellations happening less than 24 hours in advance.

Cancelling/rescheduling: If you are a new client and need to cancel or change your appointment, call us at 404-521-5147. If you are an existing client, you can make changes to your appointment here by logging into your account. However, please note: if you cancel within 24 hours of your appointment or don’t show up, we will charge you for the service you booked.