For years, I had great skin. Throughout my twenties, I was only ever prone to the occasional hormonal pimple or minor breakout. Granted I’d had a brief acne problem in my late teens, but that never became extreme, and proved relatively easy to manage with over the counter products within a short span of time. And once I developed the habit of washing my face daily, it remained clear and blemish free more weeks than not. So ten months ago, when a cluster of pimples sprouted on one of my cheeks, I assumed it was just a really bad flare up that would resolve itself the way all of my previous pimples had done for nearly a decade.

I was very wrong, and I really regret not taking the breakout more seriously as soon as it happened. That’s the main reason why I’m sharing my story here (along with the fact that Dr. Kenner is a rare gem of a genius, but more on that later). What I didn’t realize then was that severe acne can afflict any person at any stage of life. Now I know better, and hope someone out there can learn from my mistake.

A few weeks after that initial eruption, it became clear that my pimples weren’t going anywhere on their own. At this point, there were multiple warning signs that I was dealing with acne unlike anything I had previously experienced (and was thereby equipped to manage on my own). 1.) The abundance of the acne, 2.) The size and shape of the pimples (they were lodged very deep under my skin, and therefore unpoppable, 3.) Their cluster formation- never before had I had numerous ‘monsters’ located in such close proximity to one another, 4.) The acne’s unresponsiveness to active ingredients that had previously worked to calm down my skin, and 5.) The acne’s location on my face- my teenage acne had afflicted my forehead area.

I should have sought professional help right then and there. But I didn’t, and worse still, I waited far too long to address the problem head on.

Instead, out of laziness (and a default habit to avoid rather than confront unpleasantness), I continued to allow the acne to proliferate while hoping it would sort itself out. I kept thinking, ‘There’s no way my skin can get any worse, it’s already twice (then five times, ten times, twenty times, etc) as bad as it ever has been. I’m twenty-seven years old for goodness sake.’

Then, out of arrogance, I tried to deal with the problem on my own, for months I self-diagnosed causes and self-prescribed treatments based on information I collated from the internet and the advice of friends and relatives who’d struggled with acne. I bought and tried out multiple new skincare products, all were expensive (most were in fact pricier than the medication Dr. Kenner has created and prescribes), all failed (catastrophically).

Eventually, out of desperation, I went to my doctor. On the first visit he told me to stop using all of my skincare products and prescribed me an antibiotic ointment. I abided by his instructions diligently to no effect. When that didn’t do anything after four weeks, I was referred to the only dermatologist in the area whom my insurance covered, and then given topical retinol and oral antibiotics.

As far as I’m aware, these are the typical go-to treatments most general practitioners and dermatologists choose when treating sufferers of cystic acne. However, after another couple of months on yet another skincare regimen, it seemed that these medications were only preventing my acne from further amplifying. Moreover, the retinol was drying out my skin and making my face itch badly enough to significantly impair my sleep, while the oral antibiotics were making my skin more sensitive to sunlight, aka more susceptible to hyperpigmentation and scarring. The negative impact of these anxiety-inducing side effects were thus probably negating whatever positive impact the retinol and Minoclycine might have had, and adding more fuel to the negative feedback loop I was stuck in.

I finally broke the vicious cycle by booking an appointment with Dr. Kenner. It’s actually a bit silly that I didn’t go to her sooner, because Julie cured my half sister’s acne of seven years in less than a year. But I kept her as my last resort because she didn’t accept insurance.

Had I been proactive and gone to her even a month earlier, I’m sure I would have less scarring to contend with now (and I’d also currently be in need of fewer treatments to address that concern). Had I contacted Dr. Kenner’s office straight away, four or five months earlier, my acne would never have gotten out of control in the first place.

My previous tactics had only served to give my adult cystic acne more time and space to grow, spread, and increase all over my cheeks and chin. The biggest problem with most acne treatments is, it takes four to eight weeks to realize whether they’re helping or harming, due to skin cell turnover rates and the possibility of purging effects. Additionally, if you’re anything like me, throughout these various waiting/trial periods, you’ll constantly be flip-flopping between one hypothesis and another (the internet is no help for this), which again just draws the whole agony out even longer. One week I was sure I was suffering from fungal acne, the next I believed I must be having some sort of allergic reaction, and there were other moments where I convinced myself of even more far-fetched explanations such as skin mites and rare diseases.

That’s why it’s so crucial to be examined by an expert from the get-go, so the right treatment can be implemented at the earliest stage possible. But bear in mind that every person with a medical degree, or even a degree in dermatology, is not an acne expert by default. And unfortunately, most doctors and dermatologists rely on a general, one size fits all, trial and error approach, which can take many of us three or four steps backwards before we even land on the right track. (On a side note: antibiotics can be particularly damaging, and are often only a short-term solution as taking any antibiotic over an extended period of time enables the bacteria to develop a resistance to the drug, which in turn, as many of us already know, contributes to the threat of superbugs and general antibiotic ineffectiveness facing the greater population).

Every case of acne and every person is different, and so acne should also be diagnosed and dealt with on an individualized basis. Which is exactly what Julie does, and no other professional I spent hours discussing my skin, history, and circumstances with, or sources on the internet I spent hours perusing, could do.

Dr. Kenner personalizes her treatment plans according to the specific needs of each of her patient’s specific skin grievances. In her office, there is a Narnia-esque wardrobe full of dozens and dozens of different products she’s formulated herself to treat all manner of skin problems, that is literally a gateway to the magic that will solve your skin woes.

From the very beginning, my experience with Dr. Kenner has been both wonderful and unique. Unlike the dermatologist I was referred to, I only had to wait days to see her, rather than weeks. Within minutes of my consultation I knew I was in good hands- Julie was the only person who seemed to understand exactly what my issues were immediately. Now she couldn’t necessarily determine the exact causes of what I thought of as a freak case of acne, but that’s because she’s too intelligent and realistic to presume to know everything about the mysterious and treacherous beast that is acne. The important thing was she was able to recognize the exact type of acne I was suffering from (most likely caused by a combination of biological and hormonal factors), just from what it looked like and where it was affecting my skin, and therefore knew exactly how to treat it.

For the first time in the prolonged living nightmare that had been my past half year, I felt like I was dealing with someone who genuinely got what was going on, rather than someone who was at just as much of a loss as to what my acne was and how to cure it as I was.

Julie’s confidence, and the hope it instilled in me, were well founded. The products she prescribed and gave to me that initial day at her office, yielded results within a few weeks. I was almost afraid to believe what I saw for awhile (being mildly traumatized from a couple false short-lived skin improvement in the recent months) but sure enough, my existing acne lesions were indeed becoming smaller, flatter, and fewer, and I was waking up to new pimples much less frequently.

By the time my third appointment with Dr. Kenner rolled around, the topography of my face had made a complete turnaround. The few remaining bumps on my skin were mainly vestiges from some of the bigger and more resilient older pimples, and new pimples (which were by then only pinprick-sized two-to-three day affairs rather than harrowing eyesores in it for the long haul) had almost stopped appearing entirely.

My acne is now very close to being completely cured, and Dr. Kenner and I have moved on to addressing its residual effects: hyperpigmentation and scars. I’m actually optimistic that I’ll be able to get my skin back to the smooth and blemish free state that was my norm before this whole mess began, because Julie herself believes my skin’s responses to her potions (as my sister calls them) means the likelihood for a full recovery is high. Whatever happens though, I will never be able to thank her enough for the absolute wonders she has already done for my skin.

I’m generally quite a private person- writing any kind of review, let alone one that is quite so personal, is very out of character for me. But again, I wanted to share what I’ve gone through in this instance because I want anyone anyone who might be going through similar struggles to know how above and beyond everyone and everything in her field Dr. Kenner is.

Seriously I could not recommend or rate Dr. Kenner highly enough for anyone having any kind of skin issue- you genuinely have to be treated by her to understand how remarkable and effective she is.

My single disclaimer would be that neither I nor Julie could (or would) guarantee that every one of her patients will have the success at her office that I have. As I’ve already mentioned, we are all different, and the science of acne and dermatology is still a murky domain. However what I myself can guarantee is that Dr. Kenner is someone who knows what she’s doing better than most (if not all), and more than that, she is someone you can really trust (which is something I never thought I’d say about a doctor).

I only add this because I’m aware firsthand of what a sensitive topic and situation bad skin can be (and the damage believing too much of what you read online can do). So I don’t want to make any promises that might prove empty or give assurances that might prove false. However I do wholeheartedly believe that for most acne sufferers, Julie is definitely your greatest chance to save your skin, and yourself from regrets!