Gold PTT: Using real gold to treat oily, acne-prone skin?

Lady doing gold PTT

We’ve all experienced acne in our lives — those who have gone through phases of acne in their teenage years would know that this tricky skin condition doesn’t just stop past puberty and carries on in adulthood. In Singapore, about 88% of adolescents aged 13-19 years experience acne, and 41% of adults in Singapore with acne had this skin condition when they were younger. 

At Ozhean Zoey Aesthetics, we’re seeing an increasing number of patients with adult-onset acne, notably due to excess oil production on the face from our humid climate made worse with long term wearing of masks, causing ‘maskne’. If you, like many others, have found oily skin to be the main cause of your recurrent acne, there might finally be a solution. 

Introducing Gold PTT, an acne treatment designed to improve all types of facial acne, especially acne caused by oily skin festered with inflamed pustules and papules. 

How does Gold PTT treat acne?

To effectively treat acne, you must get to the root of causative factors. Let’s first understand what acne is. 

Acne is a skin condition caused by oil-clogged hair follicles and dead skin cells, resulting in whiteheads, blackheads or pimples. However, not all acne is the same! We usually start by identifying the type of acne you have: 

Non-inflammatory acne 

This is acne in its beginning stages, where active inflammation or bacteria overgrowth of the acne gland has not taken place. They occur closer to the surface of the skin and include; 

  • Blackheads or open comedones, formed due to excessive sebum production and swollen glands 
  • Whiteheads or closed comedones, formed when the pore entrance is blocked by dead skin 

Inflammatory acne 

This is when pores in the skin are clogged with bacteria, dead skin and oil, resulting in intense swelling and redness. Signs of inflammatory acne include; 

  • Papules or pimples, caused by inflammation of the sebaceous glands 
  • Pustules, formed when inflammation of the sebaceous glands cause destruction of the skin cells 
  • Nodules, which are essentially pus-filled large papules 
  • Cysts, formed when nodules get so huge they become large pus-filled lumps. Cystic acne is classified as the most serious type of acne and almost always carries the greatest degree of scarring. 
Picture of a laser beam on acne

Gold PTT — Treating acne with gold? 

Gold PTT, or Gold Photothermal Therapy, uses selective photothermolysis and real gold nanoparticles to reduce sebum production. Why gold? Because gold is known for its incredible ability to absorb light energy emitted by lasers, which is pivotal in photothermal therapy. 

Let’s break down the Gold PTT treatment process to help you understand better. 

Step 1: Deep cleanse of the treatment area 

The surface of the skin is cleansed to remove any debris, dirt and impurities. Depending on how much dirt you have, we may use other tools to thoroughly get rid of any oil and dead skin accumulated beneath the skin. 

Step 2: Application of gold nanoparticles 

A layer of gold nanoparticles is applied to the skin. These gold nanoparticles react better to hair follicles and sebaceous glands and hence are more readily absorbed. 

Step 3: Absorption of gold nanoparticles 

Absorption into the hair follicles takes place with the help of Local Dynamic Micro-Ultrasound (LDM) tech. LDM makes use of ultrasound frequencies to penetrate these gold nanoparticles deep into the pores while leaving surrounding skin undisturbed. 

Step 4: Activation of gold nanoparticles 

Finally, a long-pulsed diode laser (wavelength of 800nm or 1064nm) is used to ‘excite’ and heat up the gold particles. At Ozhean Zoey Aesthetics, we use a pico laser due to the pico laser’s fast speed that ensures no heat damage to surrounding tissues while still precisely targeting the gold particles. 

Also, unlike other lasers used in dermatology, the pico laser administered in this treatment only interacts with the gold nanoparticles instead of the skin directly. This allows for a highly localised heat process, which achieves two things: 

  1. Disrupts overactive sebaceous glands permanently and hence reducing production of oily sebum 
  2. Kills bacteria in hair follicles, reducing the chances of the follicles becoming clogged and thus decreasing bacterial activity and inflammation 

By overcoming these two processes alone, we effectively prevent future acne outbreaks. 

How effective is Gold PTT in treating acne? 

Gold PTT is effective because we are targeting sebum production directly, one of the major root causes of acne. What you will naturally get is reduced acne outbreaks and improvement of symptoms. 

A recent study1 done on patients with moderate to severe acne vulgaris reported that after three successful Gold PTT treatments, the patients showed an average improvement of more than 50%. They also saw a decrease in inflammatory cell infiltration and fibrotic changes of the dermis. 

This is backed up by another study2 done on patients with recurring acne. Those patients saw no development of new lesions 3-4 months after three Gold PTT treatments with no adverse side effects. 

But as always, acne is a multi-factorial skin condition that requires a holistic approach to treatment. On top of Gold PTT, you may need a combination of other treatments as well as lifestyle modifications for optional outcome. 

References 

  1. Suh, D. H., Park, T. J., Jeong, J. Y., Kim, K. E., Park, J. H., Lee, S. J., Kim, H. J., & Ryu, H. J. (2021). Photothermal therapy using gold nanoparticles for acne in Asian patients: A preliminary study. Dermatologic therapy, 34(3), e14918. https://doi.org/10.1111/dth.14918
  2. Park, K. Y., Han, H. S., Hong, J. Y., Seo, S. J., & Lee, S. J. (2020). Gold nanoshell-mediated photothermal therapy for acne vulgaris. Dermatologic therapy, 33(1), e13189. https://doi.org/10.1111/dth.13189 

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