Pore Size Reduction
Pore size reduction really depends on the depth of the existing pores, skin type and associated dermatological conditions. For individuals with mildly enlarged pores, topical therapy in the form of retinoids, and glycolic acid chemical peels can be considered. For moderate to severe enlarged pores treatment; TCA CROSS, non-ablative lasers, and fractional resurfacing lasers and energy based devices such as INFINI are available.
Why Do I Get Enlarged Pores?
Enlarged pores are a very common concern in the general population and can affect quality of life. For example, many of the individuals that we see in clinic may come with acne and also raise concerns with their enlarged pores at the same time. Enlarged pores are visible openings on the skin that correspond to the pilo-sebaceous gland unit opening. The pilo-sebaceous gland unit is also implicated in the disease process of Acne Vulgaris.
Studies indicate that excessive sebum output contributes to an increased in pore size. Individuals with acne and predominantly oily skin types have larger pores as well. Pore size is also known to enlarge during menstrual cycle of females. Other factors associated with enlarged pores are genetics, hair follicle size, loss of skin elasticity, chronic photo-damage of the skin and ethnicity.
With increasing age, there is not only a reduction in collagen and elastin, there is also an increase in the enzymatic degradation of these two elements by free radicals. Skin architecture is weakened, and this is why acne scars, enlarged pores and skin laxity becomes more visible with age.
Pore Size Reduction Treatment
Pore size reduction treatments are aimed at the underlying cause. The treatments are directed towards lowering sebum output, reducing androgen activity, and stimulating new collagen and elastin formation. A consultation to discuss treatment options and the most suitable procedure is necessary before undertaking any treatments.
Topical retinoid creams (Vitamin A) are an established treatment for acne vulgaris and their antiaging effects. Topical retinoids such as tretinoin exert their effect by normalizing skin cell turnover, demonstrating anti-inflammatory effects and reversing blackheads and whiteheads formation. Chemical peels such as glycolic acid, which have been used for their skin rejuvenating effects may improve pore size.
Oral treatments are aimed at specific dermatological conditions, where there may be associated enlarged pores. In individuals with severe cystic acne, oral isotretinoin is effective at significantly reducing sebum output by 4-6 weeks. Many report significant and visible improvement in their inflammatory acne, comedomes and enlarged pores during treatment.
Other oral medications reduces sebum production by having an anti-androgen effect. These may include spironolactone and combined oral contraceptive agents.
TCA CROSS For Enlarged Pores
The TCA CROSS procedure is only suitable for deep enlarged pores, and ice pick scars.
TCA is short for Trichloroacetic acid. TCA is a medium to deep chemical peel that has been used extensively to treat scars, wrinkles and photo aging. CROSS is an acronym for Chemical Reconstruction of Skin Scars.
The CROSS technique uses high concentration TCA to denature the proteins at the deeper layers of the skin. This process stimulates collagen synthesis, skin thickening and a resultant improvement in your enlarged pore appearance.
Most individuals will see improvement after 2-4 sessions, and downtime is minimal. Redness and swelling fades in 3-4 days, and scabs come off in about one week.
Lasers and Energy Based Devices for Enlarged Pores
The development of lasers and energy based devices over the last few years has reduced significant downtime, and made it safer for most skin types. They essentially work by introducing thermal energy into the skin to remodel dermal collagen. The synthesis and re-organisation of collagen bundles improves skin elasticity, tightens enlarged pores and strengthens the dermal layer of the skin.
For individuals with moderate enlarged pores and where social downtime is not desired, non-ablative laser treatments such as the Carbon Peel Laser and the Duo Power Laser are recommended.
For moderately-severe enlarged pores, and concomitant acne scars in dark skin individuals, we recommend INFINI. INFINI is based on microneedling technology that emits precise fractional radio-frequency energy in the dermal layer of the skin. This treatment produces effective results with minimal downtime (less than 5 days).
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- Joanna Dong et al. Enlarged Facial Pores: An Update on Treatments.Cutis. 2016 July;98(1):33-36
- Sebum output as a factor contributing to the size of facial pores. Br J Dermatol 2006;155:890–4. , , ,
- Sung Bin Cho et al. Efficacy of the Fractional Photothermolysis System With Dynamic Operating Mode on Acne Scars and Enlarged Facial Pores. Dermatol Surg 2009;35: 108–114.