Acne causes long-term inflammation in millions of people, resulting in scarring. Acne scars are more common in people who have moderate to severe acne. It's unclear why some people have acne scars while others don't.
Acne scars come in a variety of shapes and sizes:
- Icepick — Icepick acne scarring is characterized by significant pits in the skin. Acne scars that appear on the cheek are the most prevalent type of acne scar. They might be shallow or deep and they can feel firm or soft.
- Boxcar — These crater-like, depressed acne scars are bigger than icepick scars. Scars from acne before treatment
- Rolling Scars — Curved indentations on the skin characterize acne scars.
- Hypertrophic Scars — These acne scars are skin thickening regions or elevations. Keloids are large hypertrophic scars that run in families.
Treating Acne Scars
The treatment that is recommended will be determined by the type of acne scar being treated, your skin type and your proclivity to scarring.
For the best results, different therapies might be combined:
- Topical Retinoids are retinoids that are applied to the skin. Some topical treatments can help smooth out extremely superficial acne scars, but they may not work for deeper scars.
- Dermabrasion — To remove the top layer of skin, the skin is washed, numbed and then forcefully rubbed with a high-speed brush. The consequence is a minor abrasion that takes several weeks to heal. The skin is reshaped during the healing process. Dermabrasion lessens the severity of deeper scars and is beneficial for superficial acne scars. Until the skin heals completely, it may burn, feel uncomfortable or appear pink. The effects persist for a long time. The surgery may induce skin color changes in darker-skinned persons, necessitating repeated treatments.
- Microdermabrasion is a 10- to 20-minute process in which a machine propels tiny crystals onto the skin through a vacuum tube. This exfoliates the top layers of the skin, promoting the formation of new skin cells and enhancing skin tone. Microdermabrasion has few side effects and requires little recovery time, but can only heal superficial acne scars.
- Excision and punch replacement graft — A scalpel is used to remove an acne scar or a cluster of tiny scars. The resulting wound is either sewed up or patched up with normal skin from another part of the body. For icepick or boxcar scars, excision is extremely beneficial.
- Subcision — After numbing the skin, a probe is inserted beneath the acne scar, loosening it from the surrounding tissue and allowing it to be elevated to the level of the surrounding skin. Subcision is used to treat acne scars that are depressed, such as a boxed or rolling scar. Different types of fillers can be injected beneath a depressed acne scar to raise it to the same level as the surrounding skin. Rolling scars respond best to dermal fillers. Soft tissue fillers can last anywhere from 3 to 18 months, depending on the material utilized. This treatment must be repeated over time to maintain the appearance.
- Chemical peels — A fluid is applied to the skin during a chemical peel to remove the top layer and promote new skin growth behind the acne scars. This raises the scar to the same level as the surrounding skin, reducing its visibility. In general, "medium" or "deep" peels are used to cure acne, with the latter referring to the peel's ability to influence the skin's deeper layers. Skin lightening and texture changes are possible side effects of deep chemical peels.
- Laser skin resurfacing — This procedure eliminates the top layer of acne scars while also heating the deeper layers of the skin. The skin tightens and smoothes out the scar as a result of the heat. The skin becomes smoother as a result. Laser resurfacing is especially beneficial for boxcar scars and improving acne scars treated with other treatments. In some circumstances, only one treatment is necessary; nevertheless, ultimate results may take 12-18 months to appear. Redness following treatment may last for several months.
If you are concerned about the appearance of acne scars, speak to your doctor about choosing an appropriate treatment for you.