You may not recognize the name sebaceous hyperplasia, but you’d might recognize the issue if you saw it. Maybe you even have a few yourself. Many people mistake them for pimples or acne, but they aren’t closely related. Sebaceous hyperplasia consist of small to medium-sized, white or flesh-colored bumps that never go away on their own. They pop up in areas of the face that have the most oil glands: the forehead, nose, inner cheeks and chin.

Most people develop them in their mid to late adult years, and unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent them from happening. They are simply oil glands that have grown too large to remain “hidden” within the skin. They are so large, they become visible to the naked eye.

Luckily, there are a couple effective options for treatment.  A hyfrecator (cauterization) is a good, traditional option to help with these lesions.  While it’s not perfect, the bumps can remain flat for an extended period of time after treatment.

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More recently, the use of light-sensitizing medication and light exposure has become the best, most effective way to get rid of these bumps. You may recognize this process by the name of ALA-PDT. Although it’s not FDA-approved for use on sebaceous hyperplasia, it’s considered both safe and effective. The reason it works is because the medicine (ALA or aminolevulinic acid) is heavily absorbed by your oil glands. When your skin is exposed to light, the energy is directed to the oil glands, damaging them. This usually causes them to shrink and/or go away altogether. So, if you have acne or oilier skin, you will see improvement with these problems too!

ALA-PDT is a treatment that is safe for any skin type (color), so anyone is a candidate for treatment. Here at Celibre Medical, we usually recommend a series of three treatments spaced 2 to 4 weeks apart to effectively clear most of your sebaceous hyperplasia.

Again, it’s important to stress that while it’s not specifically FDA-approved for this use, ALA-PDT is used as treatment for many skin conditions in this way. The body of research is growing on its potential and safety, so we feel confident using it for this tough problem on our patients. It really is the safest and most effective treatment option available today.


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