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Risk and Control- Sebaceous Unit


After facial treatments such as laser, micro-needling, and radiofrequency, some patients may experience an acne breakout that seems uncontrollable. What causes this, and how can it be prevented? Enter the “pilosebaceous unit,” a less well-known but equally important player in the skin’s health.

The pilosebaceous unit is not a single cell but a complex consisting of hair, hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and erector pili muscles. Hair follicles are where hair growth occurs, and the erector pili muscles keep the hair upright to maintain body temperature. Sebaceous glands secrete sebum, which helps to moisturize and protect the skin from bacterial invasion. Another critical function of the pilosebaceous unit is repairing skin damage. Stem cells within the pilosebaceous unit help to repair damaged skin by producing new keratinocytes.

However, when skin treatments such as laser or chemical peels cause damage to the skin, the cells within the pilosebaceous unit may divide and try to repair the damage. For people with acne-prone skin, this can lead to blocked sebaceous gland outlets, causing pimples and bumps. Therefore, some patients may experience an acne breakout after treatment, which may worsen if left untreated.

To prevent this, doctors may examine the skin condition and use products to control sebum production and remove sebaceous gland outlet blockages before the treatment. For severe cases, oral or topical medications may be required to clear up acne and other skin issues before undergoing treatment. Proper pre-treatment care can prevent an acne breakout after treatment. It’s essential to pay attention to skin conditions and seek professional advice for optimal results.