Media formats available:

TheraClear X Acne Therapy System

with Gilly S. Munavalli, MD, MHS

In each issue, Practical Dermatology® magazine asks top dermatologists about the newest products they are offering to patients. Here, Gilly S. Munavalli, MD, MHS, medical director and founder of Dermatology, Laser & Vein Specialists of the Carolinas in Charlotte, NC, discusses the recently re-launched TheraClear X Acne Therapy System, which was acquired by STRATA Skin Sciences in January 2022.

What is the TheraClear X Acne Therapy System?

Gilly S. Munavalli, MD, MHS: The TheraClear X Acne Therapy System combines intense pulse light (IPL) with vacuum to treat mild-to-moderate inflammatory acne including acne vulgaris, comedonal acne, and pustular acne.

How do you use TheraClear X Acne Therapy System in your practice?

Dr. Munavalli: We use it principally for inflammatory acne, and we use it in patients who are on medications or those who don’t want to or can’t be on medications. The biggest deciding factor in treatment in my mind is the development of scarring in the patient during their initial visit. If they do, it’s best to shut acne down quickly and minimize the sequela, which can include scarring, erythema, or hyperpigmentation. In my mind, it’s critical to stop the acne/inflammatory process with this device and hopefully abort the scarring process.

We still use standard medical therapy for acne and use this device as an adjunct weekly or every other week for a total of 4 to 6 treatments. Medications work better when we get big inflammatory acne lesions under control. We have been using TheraClear X Acne Therapy System for all skin types. Patients will usually come back every couple of months for maintenance treatment with the device.

How does TheraClear X Acne Therapy System compare with other energy-based acne treatment devices?

Dr. Munavalli: Other acne lasers treat sebaceous glands. TheraClear X Acne Therapy System targets bacterial growth and overgrowth, lesional erythema, lesional hyperpigmentation, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). The other ones are solid technology but lack the pneumatic component which can be very helpful. Other acne lasers are also considerably more expensive to the physician and then patient, compared to TheraclearX.

What kind of results have you seen?

Dr. Munavalli: Great. Patients are seeing a reduction in lesions and the improvement of lesional erythema and lesional hyperpigmentation, and PIH for a global improvement in how they look.

Is treatment with this device painful?

Dr. Munavalli: There is little downtime. Patients may have some erythema for a couple of hours after a treatment. Some people also get bruising from the suction in certain areas like the forehead and temples. We usually don’t need any anesthesia unless a patient is super-duper pain sensitive. Treatment lasts about 10 minutes.

Is there a learning curve for new users?

Dr. Munavalli: As with any device, there is a learning curve. This is an IPL device but it operates at much lower energy than most conventional IPLs, which are used for photoaging and hair removal. Still, use caution initially when using this device on darker skin types or people who are very tan. In these individuals, you can turn down the energy or use the vacuum alone. Also, it’s always a good policy to decrease energy in accordance with increasing patient sensitivity such as when treatment feels uncomfortable to the patient or if their skin gets too red too fast.

What is the bigger picture when it comes to treating acne with energy-based devices?

Dr. Munavalli: We are entering a new phase in how we treat acne. It is not just about targeting the microbiome. Lasers are getting more specific for sebaceous glands. and we are seeing a bigger role for energy-based devices in the treatment of acne. We have seen some leaps and bounds already, and we will continue to see improvements.

Completing the pre-test is required to access this content.
Completing the pre-survey is required to view this content.

We’re glad to see you’re enjoying PracticalDermatology…
but how about a more personalized experience?

Register for free