I am beyond excited to share my acne journey with you all, it’s an acne story that ended of course, in such a good way (spoiler alert haha). I literally tried everything because nothing seemed to work for me, and if it did work, it was temporary. I was constantly told by doctors that accutane was my only option and it was something that really made me feel unsettled and feel like my hands were tied. I am here to share that this is an inspiring acne story and one that I hope you will share with others that are fighting to understand how to not just handle their acne, but for the personal working through the emotional, mental, physical side of acne that is often never talked about. 

I am excited to share with you because…I was tired of hearing acne stories that ended with doctors putting their patients on accutane. IT’S SO NOT GOOD FOR YOU! If you’re reading this, you either have acne or you know someone that does and you’re here to help spread that word that there is a solution for those with acne (finally). 

This is where my acne story begins… I want this to be positive and when I say journey, it truly was. I had to learn emotionally, how much pain this caused me, physically, I was tired of looking in the mirror and all I saw were my big ass pimples, and mentally, my confidence was dwindling and I wasn’t myself.

My Acne Story – 2017- 2022

Gosh, my acne journey started back in 2017 when I was almost 27 years old, and it came as a surprise to me. 

*Background story about my skin growing up; I had no acne growing up and if I had a breakout, it was very occasional (like it rarely happened). I played sports, I was very active, and it was something that I never had to think about. Put it this way, I had no idea what acne was, I just knew it was something that some of the football guys had when I cheered for them in college. It was then after college, I started getting huge boils and cysts on my skin and thought it was because of the cheap makeup and face wash I used.

I remember it like yesterday, I looked in the mirror and saw that my cheeks and neck were completely broken out. (see before pics of my skin). There’s not much that gets me embarrassed or doubting my confidence, and I finally met my match. I remember canceling my plans to go out with my girlfriends, because I was too embarrassed to go out in public. From this point on I had no idea that I would be planning my life around my skin and my breakouts. 

Ironically around this time I was working in aesthetics at a plastics surgery center & medspa in San Diego and I was really into skincare and really understanding that the quality really does make a difference. I am shocked to say this, but I had my first facial at 25, and had no idea that they were really life changing. I found that facials and  medical grade skincare were cost effective and great ways to keep my acne subdued. Not only do they clean the bacteria from your skin, but facials are great to prevent future breakouts too. I started looking into medical grade skin

Fast forward to 27 years old; I am breaking out, heavily relying on facials, and skincare to clear my skin… and they weren’t doing me justice. I was still getting gnarly cysts on my jawline and was beyond embarrassed. My thoughts were being consumed by what people would see of me, they were painful, and honestly my confidence and self esteem was completely shattered. I definitely can say looking back, that even though I had a smile on my face in social settings, I couldn’t stop thinking about my skin, that I would never get a guy to like me, or that I wasn’t pretty enough… Yes, thoughts like this would consume me to the point where I wouldn’t go out and just hide in my apartment. 

At this point in my acne journey, I had to re-do everything (or what it felt like) in my life. I had to change the way I ate (no dairy, no sugar, and no peanut butter, list goes on), I had to follow what felt like a 20 step skincare routine (morning and night), I was taking vitamins/supplements to combat my acne, I had to buy all new makeup, I got off birth control, and I was constantly washing my pillow case. Not to mention, I was going to so many doctor and skincare appointments that I was spending a big chunk of my time and money that I didn’t have. I was emotionally exhausted, my hope of ever having clear skin was running thin, my confidence was at an all time low, stressed financially, and mentally I felt like no one could help. I felt alone and that no one could help me. 

This phase in my acne journey, I had stopped wearing makeup, nothing would cover up my acne and if there was something to cover it up, it was caked on and VERY obvious. I wanted to give up. I found short term solutions that would work but in the long run, my acne would come back and I would get angry. I was angry because I would spend my money, my time going to appointments, and would be hopeful for the millionth time and get let down to try something that would claim to “get rid of my acne.”

ACNE WAS MY STORY, BUT NOT MY FUTURE

Fast forward, my husband and I moved to chicago, we are newly married (as of 3 months at the time, and he mentions to me that his friend is a dermatologist and I should book an appointment to go see him. James (my husband) says, “He really knows what he is doing and I should give him a shot.” Me thinking, yea him and the last 3 dermatologists I saw, all wanting to put me on accutane. 

If you don’t know what Accutane is, it’s a drug to treat severe acne. So basically, Accutane is a small dosage of chemo on your body (not really), but it’s extremely harmful on your body (live especially), you have to be monitored by a psychiatrist, you can’t get pregnant on it (you baby will come out deformed), and it’s not guaranteed. Yep, NOT guaranteed.

James and I, at the time, were in the planning stages of starting a family, being newly married and him being a little older than me. We felt like it was the next step for us to start a family. I was driving to my appointment and I had just gotten off the phone with James and I told him that I was willing to go on Accutane if that’s what the doctor suggested, at this point this was my only option. I remember crying because I was sad to put growing our family on hold and even more upset because I wasn’t really thrilled with putting my body on Accutane. As I was waiting for the doctor in the chair I was thinking to myself what a waste of time to be here and I was sick and tired of being let down. 

Long story short, Dr. Ashish at Oak Dermatology recommended this laser called AviClear. He explained to me that after 3 treatments I would be acne free over the following treatments after my last treatment. I was shocked that I didn’t have to be put on Accutane and that I could still family plan, and what shocked me the most is that this laser he suggested was specifically for treating acne! I couldn’t believe it. 

Journey of Acne transformation:

Treatment 1 of Aviclear was the most painful for me. My acne transformation was something more than skin deep, when I was sitting in the chair getting my first treatment I cried. I cried because I was letting go of years of trauma of me holding in that my acne didn’t bother me. I cried because for the first time I could picture myself acne free. Not many people talk about acne and how it can be very debilitating emotionally. It has changed my life (now the better), but leading up to discovering @aviclear at @oakderm, it has been one hell of a journey. 

Between treatment 1 and 2 my skin started purging, the oil in my skin hadn’t completely gone away and my breakouts were still happening. I honestly didn’t see a big difference after treatment 1 of AviClear. During the treatment itself it was most painful in the areas I had a lot of active acne and where I usually breakout (in my case along my jawline and my chin area).  I have done plenty of laser treatments leading up to this AviClear, and this one was pretty painful and the most different. Rather than a heated laser the tip of this one felt really cold – like a brain freeze. Also, for this laser you don’t do any numbing beforehand, which means that you definitely feel the “zap” of the laser. 

Treatment 2 & 3:

This is where the magic started happening, this is where I really noticed a change in my skin, the texture, the oil, and the breakouts. Dr. Ashish said that I will notice more of a change in my skin over the next 12 months after my last treatment. Here’s me on the day of my last treatment:

It’s been 6 months since my treatment and I am just happy with my results and living this acne free life. Not only am I loving my skin but I feel confident and back to loving myself again! Acne really taught me to work through the discomfort and that sharing my story is something that saved me and others from hiding and letting us know that we aren’t alone. 

Yesterday for the first time I looked at my skin after my workout and loved what I saw. As I write this, I can hardly contain myself with the fact that I didn’t see acne. LIKE NONE. ZERO. My skin wasn’t being taken over with redness, inflammation, and scabs. For the first time I looked at my skin and smiled, I thought to myself, I finally have found something that works. This was when I needed to not only share my acne journey but share the treatment and most importantly share my experience with having. Acne is more than a breakout, its debilitating and crippling. I had to change my whole lifestyle. 

A few weeks after my last treatment of acne and sharing my story via social media I was asked to speak about my life with acne and my life post laser treatment – here’s the full video:

When I was speaking about my acne on stage I was asked, “Now that you don’t have acne or have to work on treating it, what are you going to do next for your skin? Anything else you want to do?” I sat and paused for a moment, and then responded, “you know I’m sure there are things I could focus on aesthetically but what I really would like to focus on is being in the now. The feeling of being acne free for the first time in 6 years. I am honestly still processing that I won’t have acne. To me it’s so weird to believe that this treatment actually works. It’s been such a journey learning to cope with having acne, that I was just so excited. 

I am extremely honored to have shared my acne story with you (you can learn even more about my story over on TikTok). If you have a story of your own, feel free to send me a DM on Instagram if you’re comfortable – you’re not alone.