For most, a visit to the salon or spa is a ritual of beauty, but for the 70 million Americans who suffer from severe acne, such a visit?or any trip outside the home?can evoke feelings of embarrassment.
Naomi Fenlin, owner of About Face Skin Care in Philadelphia, is all too familiar with these feelings. As a young girl she watched her sister, an acne sufferer, apply concealer to do something as mundane as taking the trash to the curb, and as a mother she worried that the cystic acne that afflicted her daughter was scarring her psyche as well as her fair complexion. ?Up until recently there were few end-all, be-all treatments for severe acne,? she says, ?and little to treat long-term effects such as scarring and spots.?
According to Fenlin, those affected by severe acne spend, on average, $2,000 a month on products to treat it, but after various products, prescriptions and professionals failed to do as they promised for her daughter, Fenlin entered the world of aesthetics in order to learn more about her condition and ways she might be better treated. Now a laser specialist and certified medical esthetician, she developed her own protocol for the treatment of acne and the physical scars it leaves behind, but helping to erase?or, in many cases, prevent?the emotional scars is what she enjoys most about her career.
Many of her patients are young women who bear the scars of acne or mothers who don?t want their children to suffer as they did with the condition. During the course of treatment, Fenlin says, ?We see their progression from being withdrawn and embarrassed to making eye contact and feeling confident; watching that transformation makes us happy to come to work each day.
?Most severe acne sufferers have guilt,? she continues. ?They are told they are dirty, that they need to keep their hands off their face, to stop wearing makeup, a ?hoodie? or eating certain foods. There is tremendous pressure on the sufferer but that person has no control over it. ? She says people will go to any length to try to prevent or correct their acne including some very odd home remedies and old wives tales so her consultations often begin with an education about what is causing a patient?s acne. ?Part of my job is to help alleviate the guilt, the whole notion that they are somehow responsible for it.? Once they understand what options they have for treating it, Fenlin says patients are, ?empowered to impact this as they never have been before.?
One of the options Fenlin offers is the Isolaz acne laser treatment, which is utilized by other area practices, including the Institute for Laser and Aesthetic Medicine in Doylestown and King of Prussia. She has been a regular speaker at medical spa conferences for this device and also been an instructor for other aesthetic equipment, demonstrating and teaching doctors, nurses and other health care professionals across the country how to perform skin-changing procedures.
Today, Fenlin is happy to report, that her daughter has beautiful blemish-free skin and, now, so may the next generation of acne sufferers.??Sharon A. Shaw