Acne & Acne Scarring services offered in Bellevue, WA

If you struggle with acne breakouts and store-bought acne products aren’t helping, Serenity Rejuvenation Center in Bellevue, Washington, can help. Dr. Stephen O’Connell, and his team provide multiple treatments for acne and acne scarring. Schedule your acne treatment consultation over the phone or online at Serenity Rejuvenation Center today. 

What is Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that happens when hair follicles under the skin become clogged. Sebum-oil that helps keep skin from drying out -and dead skin cells plug the pores, which leads to outbreaks of various types of acne lesions. Most often, the outbreaks occur on the face but can also appear on the back, chest, and shoulders. Acne is a disorder of the skin, which has sebaceous (oil) glands that connect to the hair follicles, which each contain a hair. In healthy skin, the sebaceous glands make sebum that empties onto the skin surface through the pore, which is an opening in the follicle. Additionally, keratinocytes, a type of skin cell, line the follicle. Normally as the body sheds skin cells, the keratinocytes rise to the surface of the skin. When someone has acne, the hair, sebum, and keratinocytes stick together inside the pore. This prevents the keratinocytes from shedding and keeps the sebum from reaching the surface of the skin. The mixture of oil and cells allows bacteria that normally live on the skin to grow in the plugged follicles and cause inflammation- swelling, redness, heat, and pain. When the wall of the plugged follicle breaks down, it spills the bacteria, skin cells, and sebum into nearby skin, creating lesions of various forms.

For most people, acne tends to go away by the time they reach their thirties, but some people in their forties and fifties continue to have this skin problem.

Who gets acne?

People of all races and ages get acne, but it is most common in teens and young adults. When acne appears during the teenage years, it is more common in males. Acne can continue into adulthood, and when it does, it is more common in women. 

What are the types of acne?

There are several types of acne lesions. Broadly speaking, there are two main types: non-inflammatory acne and inflammatory acne.

Non-Inflammatory Acne

Non-inflammatory acne doesn’t cause swelling of your skin. There are two main types of non-inflammatory acne: blackheads and whiteheads.


Blackheads form when pores become clogged with sebum and other debris, like dead skin cells, but the surface of the pore remains open. Also called open comedones, blackheads get their name because the clogged pores resemble black dots on the skin. Considered a mild type of acne, blackheads can occur in many places on your body including your face, back, chest, arms, shoulders, and neck.


Whiteheads also form due to clogged pores, but with whiteheads, the outer layer of the pore closes the sebum and debris in. The result is a small bump with a white tip that erupts from the skin. These closed comedones are also considered a mild form of acne and can appear in the same places as blackheads.

Inflammatory acne

Unlike blackheads and whiteheads, inflammatory acne causes inflammation and swelling. While sebum and dead skin cells play a role in the development of inflammatory acne, bacteria create the inflamed reaction these types of acne cause.


Papules, also known as pimples, are inflamed red bumps on your skin. These unsightly blemishes form when bacteria and debris enter a hair follicle. Most papules occur on the face and are considered a moderate form of acne.


Another moderate type of acne, pustules are papules or pimples with a white- colored tip or head. The head of these pustules contains pus, which forms as your body’s reaction to the bacteria, as well as the dead skin cells and oil.


These are a more severe form of acne and appear as larger, inflamed lesions that are painful and hard to the touch.While papules and pustules form on the surface of the skin, nodules develop deeper down when the sebum, debris, and bacteria enter the deeper layers of the skin due to a damaged hair follicle. They usually contain pus in addition to the oil and debris, bust since they form deeper down, nodules do not always have a white tip. The face, back, buttocks, and chest are the most common locations affected. When several inflamed nodules connect to other nodules, you can develop acne conglobate.

Acne cysts

Acne cysts are one of the most severe and painful types of acne. Unfortunately, they’re also the most difficult to treat. Acne cysts are large, soft, fluid-filled bumps beneath the surface of your skin. They can be painful to the touch and often lead to acne scars. This type of acne forms in the same way nodules form, but acne cysts are more severe and contain blood along with the pus and debris.

What causes acne?

- Excess or high production of oil in the pore.-
- Buildup of dead skin cells in the pore.
- Growth of bacteria in the pore.

What other factors may increase your risk for developing acne?

- Hormones: An increase in androgens, which are male sex hormones, may lead to acne. These increase in both boys and girls normally during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy can also cause acne. 
- Family history: Researchers believe that you may be more likely to get acne if your parents had acne.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as medications that contain hormones, corticosteroids, and lithium, can cause acne.
- Age: People of all ages can get acne, but it is more common in teens.

What are the complications of acne?

Complications- Acne Scarring/Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
People with darker skin types are more likely than are people with lighter skin to experience these acne complications.

- Scars. Pitted skin ( acne scars) and thick scars (keloids) can remain long after acne has healed.
- Skin changes. After acne has cleared, the affected skin may be darker (hyperpigmented ) than before the condition occurred. See dark spots or hyperpigmentation on menu.

What are the Quality of Life Implications of acne & acne scarring?

Although acne is not life-threatening or physically disabling, the negative impact of acne on quality of life has been demonstrated in many studies of adults and adolescents with acne.In fact, several well designed clinical research studies have concluded that individuals with objective clinical evidence of acne had statistically significant negative effects in the following domains: emotional functioning, social functioning, relationship dynamics, leisure activities, daily activities, impact on sleep, as well as impact on school & work.

If you feel that the quality of your life could be improved secondary to any of the above negative implications of acne and the sequelae that acne causes including scarring and hyperpigmentation then please reach out to Dr. O’Connell and The Serenity Rejuvenation Center Team to discuss potential options.

What is our approach to acne & acne scarring treatment? 

Comprehensive Approach.
Evaluation: Dr. O’Connell & Serenity Rejuvenation Center Staff will conduct a thorough assessment addressing each of the following domains:



Assessment/ Treatment Plan:

a collaborative treatment plan to include options regarding the corrective, preventative, as well as the maintenance phases will be discussed in detail. Often the three latter phases are implemented simultaneously. 

Corrective (phase 1):

The first step of the corrective phase is addressing the active acne . There are a multitude of approaches to this phase which often include a combination of :

Specific facial cleansers
Pigment correcting serums
Prescription medications
Steroid injections
Diamond Glow (Hydradermabrasion)
Laser Hair Removal
Chemical peels

Corrective phase ( phase 2) :

Acne Scarring
Most often, when treating acne, we are concomitantly treating, the damage that the persistent acne has already created which includes skin textural changes, acne scarring, and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation concurrently .

Chemical Peels
IPL photofacial
Diamond Glow/Hydradermabrasion:
PicoSure Focus
Potenza: Mechanism of ( Rafiofrequency & Microneedling) with/or without infusion tip.
Fusion Tip: Only in it’s class: Deep Dermal Infusion of ( drugs, topicals, nutraceuticals, PRP, HA)

When using energy based medical devices we often will pre treat with a melanocyte inhibitor before and after the treatment to prevent further post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Prevention/Maintenace phase:

Monitoring progress in a step wise approach conducting in person follow up, subjective feedback, objective before and after photos, and tailoring the plan as we progress through the process. Each individual is unique and modifications & recommendations will be made accordingly. The maintenance phase often encompasses a paired own version of the above approach. 

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