Enlarged Oil Glands


About Enlarged Oil Glands (Sebaceous Hyperplasia)

Enlarged oil glands (sebaceous hyperplasia) occur when the normal oil glands on your face enlarge to the extent that they become raised and noticeable on the surface of your skin. These enlarged glands are most commonly found on the forehead and central part of the face, namely the nose and medial cheeks, though they can also rarely be found on the neck and chest. They appear as red, pink, white, or yellowish raised bumps that often have a central depression, giving them a donut-like shape. Enlarged oil glands can also appear on the areolar complex (nipples), anogenital skin, lips, and mucosal surfaces of the mouth and eyelids.

Typically, sebaceous hyperplasia is observed in adults in their 3rd decade of life and beyond and can be more common in those with oily skin. Renal transplant patients taking medications such as tacrolimus and cyclosporin may also be at greater risk of developing enlarged oil glands. Although enlarged oil glands are benign growths that tend to be asymptomatic, many people are bothered by their appearance and hence seek to have them treated.

How are enlarged oil glands treated?

At Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center, our board-certified dermatologists use a state-of-the-art erbium laser to precisely ablate your enlarged oil glands. The spot size that is used during this process is less than 1 mm in diameter and thus allows for extremely careful destruction of the oil gland while sparing damage to the surrounding skin. Although some physicians will recommend treating enlarged oil glands by freezing them (cryotherapy or cryosurgery), burning them (cautery or electrodesiccation),  or applying acid to them, these approaches are imprecise and can lead to overaggressive treatment causing scarring or pigmentary issues, undertreatment where the oil gland is not completely removed, or pigmentary damage to the surrounding skin (either hyperpigmentation whereby the skin becomes darker or hypopigmentation or even depigmentation, where the pigment is temporarily or permanently destroyed). Erbium laser in the hands of one of our extremely skilled physicians is the most effective way of treating enlarged oil glands, giving you the best cosmetic outcome while leaving your surrounding skin untouched.

Can I have other treatments performed on the same day that my enlarged oil glands are treated?

It is absolutely possible to have other treatments performed on the same day. In fact, in our experience, the areas where enlarged oil glands are treated tend to heal better when the entire face is treated on the same day with either fully or fractionally ablative laser. Some of the treatments that our board-certified dermatologists will frequently perform in conjunction with enlarged oil gland ablation include:

Is there a way to prevent enlarged oil glands from developing after treatment?

Depending on the size, severity, and frequency with which you are forming enlarged oil glands, as well as your general state of health and past medical history, there may be a way to prevent enlarged oil glands from redeveloping after you have had them ablated.

For patients with severely oily skin, and/or active acne, and or active rosacea, treatment with isotretinoin, also known as Accutane, may be an option to consider. Isotretinoin markedly decreases oil gland activity, and if these glands are not producing as much oil, there is a decreased chance that they will enlarge. Many patients will take a low dose of isotretinoin to manage their oily skin and rosacea and experience the added benefit of their oil glands remaining a normal size.

Another option that may help delay the formation of enlarged oil glands is to start on a regimen of regular neuromodulator injections, as these, when placed superficially in the skin, are capable of decreasing the activity of oil glands.

Regardless of whether you elect to pursue any preventative measures against the future development of enlarged oil glands, our board-certified dermatologists are here to discuss all of your options, and their risks and benefits, to help you determine whether any of these might be right for you.

How long will I need to recover from having my enlarged oil glands treated with ablative laser?

Depending on the size and number of oil glands requiring treatment, as well as whether you are having other treatments performed on the same day, recovery time can range from a couple of days to a couple of weeks (only in the case of concurrently treating with fully ablative laser or more aggressive fractionally ablative laser on the same day). Recovery entails keeping the treated areas clean and moist with ointment, and most importantly keeping them protected from the sun, so that they don’t become hyperpigmented. Once the treated areas have healed, it is possible to apply sunscreen and/or makeup over them to camouflage any residual redness, which will eventually fade with time.

Why trust Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center to treat my enlarged oil glands?

Our board-certified dermatologists at the Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center have decades of experience performing ablative laser treatments for a variety of benign skin growths using the most advanced erbium lasers. While most dermatology practices will offer to freeze, burn, or destroy these glands with acid, these approaches are imprecise, as well as fraught with a high risk of complications, including incomplete treatment, pigmentary alterations, and even scarring. Additionally, enlarged oil glands can in some cases mimic the appearance of basal cell carcinoma, as well as other types of skin cancer. For this reason, it is extremely important that our board-certified dermatologists conduct a careful examination of your skin before treatment, which may lead to the recommendation to biopsy any suspicious lesions.

For those with concurrent issues with oily skin, rosacea, or acne, our board-certified dermatologists can also discuss the prospect of low-dose isotretinoin to help you manage these conditions. As stated above, neuromodulator injections targeting oil glands in the dermis may also be an option.

Finally, because of our wide breadth of aesthetic offerings, it is possible for you to not only address your oil glands during a single treatment session, but to also incorporate many other ways to refresh the appearance of your face and skin on the same day, so that you are making the most efficient use of your recovery time, while on the journey toward looking like the best version of yourself.

Begin your aesthetic journey with us today.