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Patient Testimonial – Katie Pena

Goodbye Acne, Hello Wedding!

Katie Pena's Journey with Orange Coast Dermatology to a Perfect, Acne-Free Wedding

By: Katie Pena, Orange Coast Dermatology Patient


In my opinion, a dermatologist's relationship with their patients is based on trust, medical expertise, collaboration and involves the entire staff, beginning the first time you walk in the door. Much like selecting a general physician or medical specialist- I have many choices when selecting a dermatologist in Orange County. The last time I saw a dermatologist was in 2010, this past August I was referred to Dr. Di Cesare by my mother. Below is my journey to getting clearer skin.

August 16, 2016 – The week of my 30th birthday and about 3 months before my wedding day.

If I had to sum up my skin in one word: ACNE. I sat in the patient room waiting for him with a set intention- I am fully committed to doing everything to get my skin under control and healthier. The truth was that I had been in this very same position more than a handful of times the past 15 years but lacked the follow through. Maybe it was because I didn't fully understand the importance of a skin regime or because I wasn't paying for the expensive medications I was being prescribed. I just thought, "This is my skin. I have acne just like my dad. It will always be oily. My scars will eventually fade. I'm really good at covering up the spots and redness."

I didn't wear makeup to work that day because I wanted him to see exactly what was going on. I work in sales so being in the office with a "naked face" definitely brought out my skin insecurities. All of the staff members I interacted with during my visit made me feel comfortable and hopeful. They asked about the wedding, what I was doing for my birthday and assured me that my skin would be amazing before I knew it. After meeting with Dr. D, I left the room with a plan- take one day at a time but stick to the script and come back in 4-6 weeks to follow up. I couldn't believe how fast I was seeing improvement. It was important to me that I understood the difference between improvement and results by managing expectations. He's a dermatologist- not a magician. If he was going to try and undo what my skin had been through the last 10 years, I was going to be patient. 

October 5, 2016 – 2 months before my wedding

My follow-up appointment was scheduled for October 5th, 2 months before my wedding. The staff immediately acknowledged the difference they saw and I did too! My face looked less swollen, the redness was fading, fewer breakouts were occurring and my skin was getting smoother. Beth said I was ready to start the "repair work" and I couldn't have been more excited!
















Below is my experience with services Beth performed that day:


Treatment: Reduce inflammation of the acne and the redness of my skin
Pain: Felt like a rubber band is being snapped on your face repeatedly but there is a burst of cool air that offsets the sensation.


Treatment: Exfoliant that promotes skin renewal and regenerates the natural production of collagen from beneath the skin.
Pain: Felt like Beth was rubbing my face with sandpaper. Throughout the scrubbing, not only was my dead and dull looking skin cells being removed, I could feel that my skin was being stimulated.

Night of: My face felt like it was completely wind burnt. There was still a tingling sensation from the sea enzymes in the colla-jam and my skin felt a little prickly.

Next day: I did not wear make-up but noticed that the surface of my skin looked smoother and refreshed. The dark red spots and scars looked faded and the “ice pick-like” marks looked less deep. The pain was almost completely gone by the time I got home from work.

48 hours later: By Friday I couldn’t believe the difference. My skin was glowing, pores were smaller and 70% of the red areas on my face were gone. I barely had to use the green cover up stick when I put my make up on that morning! It was amazing. My coworker immediately said something to me the next day. Overall I was so happy with the results! 

Confident with Dr. D's treatment plan and positive results on October 12th, just 4 days before my Bridal Shower I will undergo a Micro Needling Laser treatment to resurface my skin. Stay tuned for the update! I want to thank Dr. Di Cesare, his staff and especially Beth and Sherry for their support, guidance and answering every question that has come up (trust me there’s been a lot!)

Katie Pena Testimonialimg_7832









October 12, 2016 – 4 days before my Bridal Shower


Treatment: collagen induction therapy or skin rejuvenation procedure that involves the use of a device that contains fine needles. The needles are used to puncture the skin to create a controlled skin injury (smooth my old acne scars)

Pain: Numbing cream. I could not imagine this procedure without numbing cream. That being said, the pain was tolerable! Less painful than the Vbeam. It's basically micro trauma that erases my skin’s “memory” of my scars so I didn't expect it to be pain-free. 

Night of: My skin was pink (like a sunburn) and looked a little swollen. I took an extra strength Tylenol and slept just fine. 

Next day: I did not wear make-up and was still a little red. I noticed a much biggest difference in my “ice pick-like” mark compared to the Collajam. I had subtle pain for the majority of the day but the redness was clearing up fast. People in my office would look at me and I would cut off whatever question or comment they were going to make with "I'm getting married in 45 days, beauty hurts!"

48 hours later: Downtime for this procedure is short! My skin will literally be replacing itself over a period of months, textured scars begin to “fill in” and resemble the skin I want. Patience is key here. My skin looked great the day of my shower! 

Below are pictures right before and after the procedure 









48-hour progress









October 26th – VBEAM

I am seeing the doctor weekly to monitor how my skin is responding to topical treatments, medications, and treatments. After assessing the overall progress (please keep I put myself in the fast lane to get results as fast as possible) he prescribed me a 10 day antibiotic to kill the bacteria on my skin and told me to start coming into the office for Vbeam treatment to reduce the redness from active lesions. 

Here is a list of the topical treatments I've been using since my first appointment:

Triple Brightening Cream (Retin-A 4% hydroquinone, 0.05% Tretinoin and 0.1% mometasone furoate cream)
Benzoyl Peroxide Cream
Sulfur Mask
Glycolic Pads
Ultra-Light Moisturizer 
SPF 40 for acne prone skin
Below is a picture from the Vbeam treatment that day.
October 26, 2016 – VBEAM 










November 2nd – VBEAM












The entire month of November was focusing on the Vbeam treatments since the medications finally got my breakouts under control. I officially have become a vbeam pro! The more treatments I get, the less they hurt and that means Beth can "turn it up the heat a notch". My appointments were quick and I would see results by the time I got home. The pictures below are what I call the "noVBEAMber series". 





November 9th – VBEAM









 November 16th – VBEAM









 November 22nd – VBEAM








December 1st – VBEAM

Here I am, the day before my wedding. I had my future husband come with me to the last appointment so he could see (appreciate) all that I went through to get my skin glowing for the big day! 


















 December 4th – 1st day of our Honeymoon

I took this picture the first night of our stay. I could not believe my skin! I'll tell my husband that it was a newlywed glow but all joking aside I was everyth12-4-honeymooning we did at the office. Finally, two full months later here I was- 30, married and pimple free. I was so happy!








December 15th – Last day of our Honeymoon 

Here I am. 45 days later. I have on sheer tinted moisturizer/sunscreen but LOOK! Who is this person?! And a little Dominican Republic tan did hurt too!

12-15-last-day-of-honeymoonLooking back on where I started, days before my 30th birthday, at OCD this journey looks like a miracle. I had been suffering from acne for most of my life and 4 months later, it's almost completely gone. I am so thankful for the amazing team at Orange Coast Derm and Dr. DiCesare and Beth's guidance. They saved my skin, my social life and rid me of the insecurities and anxiety I was experiencing due to my skin condition. Walking down the aisle on my wedding day, I was at peace and felt the most beautiful. Thank you again!

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