Acne – Acne Scar Treatment

While having acne is never fun to begin with, acne scars can be the worst part--lasting reminders that can take months to heal.

Fortunately, acne scar treatment is readily available and is usually quite successful.

Prevention is most important before and during an acne breakout.  To prevent an acne scar, there are two key steps.  First, follow a good skin care regime to minimize breakouts; without acne, there are no scars.  Second, work to limit the inflammation of the area affected by acne.  There are several prescription and over-the-counter acne treatments that aim to reduce inflammation and help prevent serious acne scars.

To treat a scar, the type of acne scar removal depends entirely on the type of scars that exist.  There are two main types of acne scarring, which are determined by the tissue’s reaction to inflammation.

Kelloids or hypertrophic acne scars occur when skin tissue formation increases in response to acne inflammation.  Excess collagen builds up, creating a smooth, irregularly shaped scar which can take years to disappear.

The other type of acne scar results from a loss of tissue, and is much more common than kelloids.  While these acne scars give the skin a noticeably pitted look, they are generally more responsive to acne scar treatment.  One example of an acne scar caused by tissue loss is an “ice pick scar,” which is small and has a jagged edge.

For the fast removal of acne scars, there are several options.

Dermabrasion is a technique that uses diamond edged wheels to remove the top layer of damaged, acne scarred skin, thus allowing new and healthy skin to grow in its place.  (Dermabrasion should not be confused with microdermabrasion, which is a more minor facial resurfacing process that will have little to no effect on acne.)

Acne scar laser resurfacing is another type of scar treatment which also removes the top layer of skin, using a high-energy light to vaporize and remove acne scars.  Laser skin resurfacing is a newer form of acne treatment and is often preferable to other resurfacing methods because the depth of laser penetration into the skin can be more easily controlled.

Chemical peels are often used to get rid of acne scars, although with less success than other methods.  They involve the application of various acids to the skin, removing the top layer of skin and all mild acne scars with it.

Finally, deep acne scars are usually treated using a type of punch technique.  In this type of acne scar removal, the pitted scar is “punched out” and either left to heal, replaced with a skin graft, or put back into the punch hole but at the level of surrounding skin.

Acne breakouts and subsequent acne scars can have severe emotional and psychological effects on a person.  The good news is that, with modern technology, acne scar treatment has advanced considerably, and there are now several options for acne scar removal.

The only sure way to treat and prevent acne scarring is to treat acne early on in its course, and to do so for as long as it takes to clear up the problem.

The occurrence of scarring is different for different people. It is often difficult to predict who will and won't scar, how extensive or deep the scars will be, and how long the scars will persist.  Likewise, it is also difficult to predict how successfully scars can be treated and prevented.

Remember, treating acne may not be a short-lived process.  While some people with mild forms of acne are able to treat breakouts as they occur, others must constantly treat the condition to help prevent breakouts from occurring more frequently.

If you have a known tendency to scar from acne, whether mild, moderate, or severe, you should seek the care of a dermatologist who can suggest treatments to help eliminate and prevent further acne scarring.