Dr. Eric Schweiger believes that clear skin is possible for all people. The New York board-certified dermatologist empathized with acne patients early in his career and founded Clear Clinic to specifically address and resolve this pervasive skin condition. The clinic comprises three locations in New York City, as well as the unique and proprietary Clear Clinic @ Home, which offers Dr. Schwieger’s protocols to patients anywhere in the U.S. Here, Dr. Schweiger tells Beauty in the Bag about some of his learnings and insights regarding the path to clear skin.
How did you get started in the skin industry? How did acne become your passion?
Upon completing my residency in dermatology, I began practicing in New York City. I quickly began to notice that many dermatologists overlooked the treatment of acne. They would treat acne with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, which does not lead to the kind of results that acne patients want. I realized that a large part of the population suffered from acne and their needs were not being adequately met. Clear Clinic was designed to care for people with acne in the most effective way possible. There is no reason that anyone should have to live with acne or acne scars.
What is the difference between cystic and less severe types of acne?
There are many different presentations of acne, including cystic acne. Cystic acne is one of the more severe types, because it often requires treatment in conjunction with a specialized medical professional, and can lead to the development of scarring if left untreated. Other types of acne, such as comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) can sometimes be treated with skincare changes alone. Comedones do not cause inflammation on the skin, so they are less likely to cause permanent scars.
Tell us about the technologies that you feature at Clear Clinic and what is coming next.
At Clear Clinic we take a holistic approach and focus on treating the entire patient—not just their skin. We pride ourselves on having numerous acne treatments available, so that we can offer the most appropriate treatment to each patient based on their skin’s needs, their lifestyle and budget. We often utilize a combination of excellent skin care, prescription medications, and in-office treatments to clear acne as quickly as possible. My favorite in-office treatments for acne are the Isolaz acne laser, which uses a gentle vacuum to clean the pores while killing bacteria and reducing inflammation with light; photodynamic therapy, which decreases oil production and kills acne-causing bacteria; and light therapy, which reduces redness and inflammation on the skin. These procedures can be combined with treatments performed by our medical estheticians, including medical extractions and medical-grade chemical peels, to treat acne quickly and effectively. Additionally, we work with mental health professionals to treat all of the aspects of acne.
We also utilize the very best laser treatments to improve the appearance of acne scars. In fact, we pioneered an excellent treatment for pitted acne scars that allows for a dramatic improvement in the appearance of scarring without significant downtime. The treatment is called the “F.A.S.T” procedure, which stands for Focal Acne Scar Treatment. It involves using a high intensity fractional CO2 laser to target just the scars on the first day of treatment, We then do a less aggressive laser treatment called the Fraxel laser one month later. This gives great results of 50% improvement or more. The “next” treatment that is gaining popularity is called PRP injections. This stands for platelet-rich plasma and the procedure involves drawing the patient’s blood in the office and spinning it down to separate the platelets from the red blood cells. We then activate the platelets and inject them into the acne scarred area; We usually do this in combination with “F.A.S.T.” We just started doing this treatment in November 2013 and have already treated over 30 patients so far and have gotten great results.
How does Clear Clinic @ Home work?
Clear Clinic @ Home is unique because it allows people to experience the benefits of working with a skincare professional, from the comfort of their home. Upon signing up for Clear Clinic @ Home, you will fill out a detailed questionnaire discussing your skin and the needs of your skin. Three days after completing the questions, a unique Clear Kit designed to treat your skin specifically will arrive at your door. Additionally, you will work with a Personal Acne Coach™, who will guide you through your treatment over video conferencing, telephone, or online chat. They are also available to answer questions by email at anytime. We generally recommend scheduling a session with your Personal Acne Coach™ around the day your Clear Kit arrives; they will then meet with you again six weeks after beginning treatment in order to discuss progress and adjust the treatment as necessary. Additionally, they will help you to navigate Clear Track™, a unique monitoring system that Clear Clinic @ Home users can utilize to track the progress of their skin.
You have a new acne product line. Why 19 products and do you have a few hero products?
We wanted to launch with the correct combination of products to really customize complete regimens for every skin type. We found that these 19 products, when used in combination with each other, addressed the needs of virtually every acne patient I’ve treated. We have morning and evening treatment products, cleansers, moisturizers, treatment pads, a mask, and a spot treatment. One of our hero products is GTS 2.4, which contains EGCG, the active ingredient in green tea. A study that I found published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology showed that a topical lotion containing 2% topical green tea successfully treats acne. Most green tea products on the market contain significantly less than 2% of the active ingredient. GTS contains 2.4%. Another hero product is our Serious Action Serum, which is an elegant serum that contains a host of botanicals and salicylic acid to reduce redness, oil, and inflammation. Vanished is our on-the-go spot treatment; it’s clear and can be used under makeup to really target pimples and reduce the duration and appearance of a burgeoning pimple.
What are your recommendations for achieving and maintaining a good complexion at home?
I recommend working with a professional to discover the unique needs of your skin. Every person must treat their skin differently, which is why you can spend hundreds of dollars trying and discarding new products from the department store counter. By treating your skin with the ingredients that will benefit your personal needs, you will end up with the best treatment regimen possible.
I find that it is beneficial to improve the health and appearance of the skin, not only to get rid of active acne. Thankfully, many acne products can also improve your skin’s general health and appearance. I constantly recommend products to Clear Clinic patients that contain exfoliating ingredients (such as glycolic acid) to get rid of dead skin cells and achieve a light chemical peel at home. Also, topical retinoids may treat acne, but they are simultaneously treating and preventing wrinkles. Anyone who can tolerate the slight drying nature of a retinoid should be using one; your Personal Acne Coach™ can give you tips for applying retinoids without dryness.
Lastly, the simplest recommendation is also the most important. Every person, even those with acne, should be wearing sunscreen daily. It is important to find the best sunscreen for your skin type and to get into the habit of wearing it every day—rain or shine, winter or summer.