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Could coating your skin in gold solve your acne problem?

Central Texas doctors tested treatment before FDA approved it

Nicole Villalpando
Sebacia Microparticles puts gold particles into the pores and then heats them up to shrink oil glands. [Contributed by Sebacia Microparticles]

OK, this might seem a bit weird: Can you stop acne with gold? And we're not talking throwing money at some magic cure, but real gold particles massaged into pores to stop oil glands from producing oil?

Sanova Dermatology in Central Texas has been testing out a new treatment called Sebacia Microparticles. Thanks in part to local test patients, the treatment just got FDA approval for mild to moderate acne.

The microparticles look like a black cream that gets rubbed into skin using a facial massager. The aesthetician then uses a Cutera laser, which is used in other treatments, to heat up the gold particles now in the pores. The heat helps the oil glands become smaller.

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"Decreasing the oil production is the holy grail of acne," says Sanova dermatologist Ted Lain.

Lain says patients feel a little bit of heat and maybe a bit of discomfort, but he puts it at a 3 out of 10 on the pain scale.

The excess Sebacia Microparticles are wiped off. The whole thing takes about 45 minutes. Patients might see some skin redness, but that doesn't happen in everyone, Lain says.

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The treatment gets done three times, roughly once a week for three weeks. In between, you continue with a skin cleansing routine.

The good news about this treatment is that patients don't have to take antibiotics or use something like Retin A or Accutane, which have side effects or require blood tests.

The Sebacia Microparticles treatment isn't as effective with women who have hormone-sensitive acne. While it's been approved for lighter skin tones, the settings for darker skin tones have not been determined.

It will cost about $1,200 to $1,500 for all three treatments, and it's not covered by insurance, but Lain says it can be cost effective because it's three treatments rather than continual treatments. It also is thought to last longer than something like a chemical peel.

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Kathleen Strybos, a biology major at the University of Texas, had her first Sebacia Microparticles treatment in February. She says it didn't hurt for her, but it had an unexpected feeling in the more sensitive parts of her face.

"It would sting a little bit, like someone poked you," she says.

She noticed a difference by the third treatment, which Lain says is typical.

"My skin has shown a major improvement," she says. Previously she's tried birth control, which helped a bit, and Accutane, which was helpful, she says, but it dried out her skin, and she needed regular blood tests.

"This is so much better," she says.

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