Why choose us for your acne treatment?

Our dermatologist at OC MedDerm in Irvine, Orange County, an expert in acne and acne scar removal, will find an individualized treatment plan for your specific type of acne.

Dr. Shafa not only tackles the underlying cause of acne but also offers a wide spectrum of acne treatment beginning with patient education and proper acne cleanser all the way to, if needed, “Accutane” now available as Absorica (Isotretinoin) as a last resort, the miracle treatment for the most stubborn and severe cystic acne.

Remember that acne can and must be controlled as soon as possible, to prevent permanent discoloration and scarring which is significantly more difficult to treat.

There are many types of acne with varying severity and multiple treatment options that must be individualized for each patient. We offer all kinds of treatments based on your needs,desires, and lifestyle.

Medical evaluation for acne is the first essential step to treat acne:


Acne can simply be caused by underlying medical issues. Dr. Shafa’s experience in medical and cosmetic dermatology gives her the unique ability to evaluate each patient from inside and out. Ask for an appointment to be evaluated medically before beginning treatment for acne.

After a medical evaluation, you may need treatment for the underlying diseases or conditions, such as a hormonal imbalance, that may be the cause of your acne. Here are a few examples of hormonal imbalance that can cause acne

  • Increased testosterone production for female or males can be associated with acne and excessive facial hair growth.
  • Irregular monthly periods can be due to lack of ovulation leading to hormonal imbalance and acne
  • Polycystic ovarian disease can be the cause of acne, facial hair growth, and weight gain
  • Hormonal imbalance during puberty or menopause can lead to acne with or without mood swings.
  • Gland dysfunction can lead to hormonal imbalance and acne
  • Acne can be the first sign of androgen secreting tumors

The above include but are not limited to the possible underlying medical causes of acne that need to be evaluated.


1- Hormone Treatment for Acne

Acne can be the presenting sign of the overproduction of androgens, although serum androgen may or may not be
elevated by blood tests. Options to balance hormones include:

  • Birth control pills (Stops ovarian androgen)
  • Spironolactone (Blocks androgen receptors)
  • Steroids (Stops adrenal gland androgens)

2- Retinoids “ the gold standard” topical treatment for acne


Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A that are made naturally by the body as well as synthetically in the laboratory as a medication. Retinoids are the main key treatment for acne as well as therapy of various diseases such as psoriasis.

These agents normalize the shedding of the hair follicle lining and also have direct anti-inflammatory effects, thereby preventing the blockage of pores and decreasing the formation of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), unplugging existing comedones, and allowing other topical medicines (such as antibiotics) to enter the follicles.

Commonly used retinoid are as followed:

  • Retin-A (Tretinoin, Retinoic acid)
  • Tazorac (Tazarotene)
  • Acitretin (Soriatane)
  • Differin (Adapalene)

Read more about Retinoids benefit and risks

3- Accutane, oral retinoic acids “a miracle treatment” for acne

  • Accutane (no longer available) Roche, which has sold the drug to 13 million patients since 1982, stopped making Accutane in 2009
  • Absorica (currently available brand)
  • Isotretinoin (generic name of Accutane or Absorica)

Above are before and after photos of Accutane (Isotretinoin) treatment on one of our actual patients. A miracle acne treatment, a lifesaver and a very effective treatment for stubborn or severe acne. This is one of Dr. Shafa’s areas of expertise and passion since she believes it changes lives!

4- Antibiotic treatment for acne (topical or oral)

The major effect of the use of antibiotics for acne is to control the infection caused mainly by a bacteria called P. acne. Commonly used antibiotics for acne are as follows:

1) Tetracycline

2) Doxycycline

3) Minocycline

4) Clindamycin

5) Erythromycin

6) Azithromycin

7) Sodium sulfacetamide

8) Ampicillin

9) Keflex

10) Dapsone (Aczone)

5- Acid used topically, a treatment for Acne

Azelaic acid (Azelex)

Azelaic acid is a unique compound. It occurs naturally in the skin and is well tolerated by most people, and can be safely used for years at a time. It does not cause sun sensitivity or significant local irritation, however; dryness or lightening of the skin where it is applied is possible. It can easily be combined with other acne products such as Benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics and/or tretinoin.

6- Chemical Peels

Acne specific chemical peels, such as salicylic acid, at different strengths are a type of acne treatment that we offer at our office. This can help control active acne as well as promote skin rejuvenation, including the correction of acne related skin discoloration and scars.

Acids commonly used to treat acne are

  • Salicylic acid peel to treat active acne
  • Glycolic acid peel to treat active acne and scarring
  • TCA (trichloroacetic acid) cross to correct acne scar
  • Anti-Keratinization:unclogs pores and decreases the abnormal shedding of the skin cells, improving non-inflammatory acne in the process.
  • Antibacterial:effect that reduces the population of P. acne bacteria without inducing resistance to this bacteria.
  • Anti-inflammatory:effect that improves inflammatory type acne.
  • Discoloration due to acne improves gradually

7- Intralesional Corticosteroid Injection

Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents used to control severe cystic or nodular acne. Some cystic acne may become severely large,inflamed, and painful. With this type of acne, you may benefit from the immediate control of the surrounding swelling and inflammation with an anti-inflammatory agent such as diluted steroids, which can be injected into just the inflamed nodule. This lessens the inflammation and the cause of pain and swelling and promotes healing. Such an intralesional steroid injection works by “melting” the cyst over a period of 3 to 5 days.

Steroids can be administered:

  • Topically
  • Orally
  • Injected into acne lesions (best localized effect)

8- Acne Surgeries


Acne surgery is the manual treatment of stubborn acne lesions or correction of acne scars. These procedures are all performed by Dr. Shafa herself under sterile conditions. Having these procedures performed by a dermatologist, as opposed to non physician providers, ensures the best possible outcome cosmetically and comfort wise. Procedures will be performed with topical or local anesthesia if necessary so that you do not even feel that your skin is being touched.

At OC MedDerm Dr. Shafa is an expert in using proper techniques for “acne surgery”. Skin surgeries include but are not limited to active acne treatment and acne scar removal, one of our signature services.

Some types of deep cystic acne respond slowly or poorly to medication alone. If needed, drainage of large, painful, swollen, and infected cystic acne lumps immediately reduces the pain associated with these cysts, helps the lesion heal faster, and decreases the likelihood of permanent discoloration and scarring.
For certain types of acne, such as whiteheads and blackheads with hard, large, dry contents, it is beneficial to remove the contents of the lesions manually. By doing so, we can achieve better and faster results. Afterwards, we can prevent the formation of such skin lumps with proper acne treatment. Dr. Shafa uses a tiny, sterile device to extract whiteheads and blackheads with minimal to no discomfort. This procedure should only be performed by an expert, such as a physician, under sterile conditions.
Microdermabrasion is another method of manually unplugging acne pores. It uses a unique technique to scrub the skin with crystals or diamond tip, which is followed by the suctioning of tiny clogged pores with a vacuum device. Microdermabrasion also stimulates collagen formation in the skin resulting in the improvement of acne scar appearance over time. It is also performed to rejuvenate the skin and correct discoloration.
Some of the masks we use are specially made for acne treatment. They kill bacteria, decrease the oiliness of the skin and have a soothing effect by controlling skin inflammation (swelling, redness and associated pain). Masks may be applied after extractions or microdermabrasions to facilitate the healing process following these procedures. We offer a variety of masks that nourish your skin with vitamins, minerals and topical healing.
During your medical visit with us we will educate you about some adjunctive acne products that can be used in combination with your prescriptions for the most optimal level of improvement. We offer customized acne products for home use that may contains any of the following ingredients:
  • Alcohol and acetone
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid
  • Aluminum chloride
  • Sulfur and Resorcinol
  • Zinc
These types of products induce a continuous mild drying and peeling of the skin. This gentle treatment is a very acceptable option to start with and may provide fast and effective results for even swollen and infected lesions.

Contact Us!

If you are suffering from acne, feel free to call us to make an appointment to see Dr. Shafa. During your appointment, Dr. Shafa will evaluate your skin as well as overall health. After the type and cause of acne is diagnosed, Dr. Shafa will explain the variety of treatment options best suited to your needs and help select the best regimen for you and your skin. If you have questions prior to your visit, please do not hesitate to ask here.