Living with acne and acne scars is not easy. Scars on the face and other parts of the body can change the way you think about yourself and dent your self-esteem. For most people, acne scars are an unwanted reminder of the embarrassing acne phase. You are not alone when it comes to dealing with acne. More than 80% of people face the issue of acne in their teens or in their 30s. There are many factors that cause acne but changes in hormones remain the major cause. The good news is that you no longer have to live with acne scars as there are safe and reliable treatments available that reduce the appearance of scars permanently. Yes, all kinds of acne scars can be treated even if they are caused because of puberty or stress-induced breakouts.
What causes acne scarring?
There are different types of acne such as papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts. Acne scarring comes as a side effect of acne but is more depressing and disfiguring. To understand acne scar treatment, we first need to understand what is causing this scarring. The acne we see on our skin also causes damage underneath the skin too. When you have a breakout, there is inflammation under the skin which causes damage to the skin tissue and this is the major cause of scarring. The extent of scarring depends on the skin type and the damage.
As the acne pore swells it pushes against the wall of the pores and it breaks down. Sometimes the blemishes are small and the scars are small but when the insides of the pores spread to the other tissues, the scars can be deep. The skin tries to repair the scar by forming new collagen fibres and when there are too many fibres, they cause a raised scar. There are two types of acne scars
- Discolouration scaring: This type of acne scarring causes hyperpigmentation which causes darker skin.
- Indentation scaring: This is caused when the top layer of the skin fails to heal or regenerate itself and it causes a depression in the skin.
Some people scar easier than others and, in some hyperpigmentation, causes discolouration scaring post-acne. So, it is important to understand that acne causes scarring whether you pick or scratch it or not. But when you pinch or squeeze a pimple or even a blackhead, you only increase the inflammation which in turn makes the scaring work. Another major factor that worsens acne scarring and spread is touching the pimple with unclean hands or towels.
Are acne scars permanent?
No, there are excellent treatments at your disposal that can reduce all types of acne scarring. The choice of treatment depends on the type of scar and the depth of the scar. Types of acne scars are
Atrophic scars appear as small dips on the skin. They occur when the skin is not able to make enough fibres. These are further classified as
- Ice-pick scars that look like tiny pinpricks.
- Box car scars are larger dips with clear edges
- Rolling scars give an undulating appearance to the skin and are not clearly defined.
Hypertrophic scars are raised scars caused because of too many fibroblasts produced in response to acne inflammation.
Keloid scars are thicker than hypertrophic scars and also have hyperpigmentation and are therefore dark in colour and often painful and itchy.
Treatment for acne scars
The first step in the treatment of acne scars is to prevent more acne. Talk to your doctor about acne control and avoid touching or scrubbing the acne. If you have recurring acne then it will cause more scarring. Acne scar removal and acne dark spot removals are safe and effective in-office treatments that are minimally invasive and do not cause damage to the skin. They include
Subcision: This procedure is usually done before undergoing any other treatment for a scar procedure. Deep scars are dislodged from the muscle or the tissue so that they come to the surface and then it comes easier to treat them using laser treatment for acne scars or chemical peels or needling or dermabrasion.
Laser skin resurfacing: This is the gold standard for acne scar removal. Laser scar removal is safe and effective and can treat large areas of scars. It works on a simple principle of causing a small injury to the skin which triggers the healing process. This produces more collagen and stimulates the production of new skin cells which then correct the skin from the inside. A High-powered laser beam for laser treatment for scar removal gently removes the outer layer of the skin. The most commonly used laser for deep scars is fractional CO2 laser for skin resurfacing. Non-ablative laser resurfacing targets the inner layer of the skin to stimulate the production of new skin cells to replace damaged skin cells. Lasers treatments also smooth and improve the tone and appearance of the skin. Laser scar removal can cause bruising or redness and it may take the skin about 10 days to heal completely and it takes some months to see full results.
Microdermabrasion: This treatment is used for shallow and surface acne scars. Microdermabrasion as an acne scar treatment is done by exfoliating the affected layer of the skin and revealing smooth, scar-free and younger-looking skin underneath.
Dermal fillers: Dermal fillers are special gel-like compounds that are injected into the scars to fill them up and even out the skin. Dermal fillers plump out the skin and reduce the appearance of depressed acne scars. They contain ingredients like collagen and hyaluronic acid. Soft tissue fillers are often used to treat atrophic acne scars such as rolling or boxcar scars. Fillers are a good option to treat the scar.
Over-the-counter drugs and creams: These include topicals and medications that reduce the appearance of the scar and the dark spots caused by scars. The most commonly used ones include
- Alpha hydroxy acids which help remove dead skin and clogged pores by exfoliating the outer skin. This also clears discolouration and rough skin. They can be used on all types of acne scars.
- Lactic acids are often used in chemical peels but are also found in serums and ointments to lighten scars. They lighten the pigmentation, texture and appearance of the scar.
- Retinoids are vitamin A derivations and a popular treatment for skin rejuvenation and scar removal. They remove the dead skin cells and the top layer of the skin and are suitable for depressed scars.
- Salicylic acid cleans up the pores, and reduces swelling and redness one of the best treatments for acne scars.
Microneedling: This treatment for acne scar removal involves applying a small needle-studded roller over the scars. This causes small tiny injuries on the skin that stimulates the skin into producing collagen. This helps smooth skin and fill up the scars. It can take more than one treatment of micro-needling to correct the scars. This type of acne scar removal works well for depressed scars and not raised scars.
Scar revision treatment results
The scar removal process needs many treatment sessions and the results also take a few months to appear. A little bruising and redness on the scar removal site are common but it does not last for long. Your dermatologist will give you a list of instructions to follow for post-scar removal treatment care. Some of these include
- Avoid direct sunlight on the treated area
- If there is swelling then use a cool cloth or a cold pack to reduce it
- In case of pain, you can use OTC pain medication
- Use a regular cleansing and moisturizing routine.
- Avoid makeup or other facias for a few weeks post-treatment.
- Wear sunblock before going out
Your dermatologist might use more than one treatment to minimize acne scars. Acne dark spot removal treatments can use lasers as well as micro-needling. The location of the scar is also a major consideration when it comes to selecting the right treatment. Correct scar revision can reduce the appearance of the scar to as low as noticeable.
Scar removal cost
The cost of scar removal depends on various factors such as
- Type of scar
- Location of scar
- Size of scar
- Your age
- General Health
- Previous treatments
- Chronic skin condition
- Surgeon’s fees
Laser acne scar removal cost is a little higher than using over-the-counter medications but lasers give more long-lasting and better results. Also if your skin has a tendency to recurring acne you might need to factor in the cost of repeated scar removal and acne treatments for relief. Laser scar removal cost is a small factor considering the benefits of flawless scar free skin.