How Can I Treat My Acne Scars?

Active acne, with its pimples and breakouts, is bad enough.  What acne can leave behind after it’s gone looks and feels worse.

Unfortunately and frequently, even after the acute acne breakouts are gone, your skin can be left with longer term consequences in terms of discoloration, enlarged pores, and various depths of scarring.  Although popping pimples and picking at the skin can make these problems worse, some scarring results solely from the inflammation and infection under the skin, which causes damage and healing.

After acne causes its damage, no treatment is currently able to transform your skin back completely to its previous unscarred state.  However, there are many excellent treatments that can reduce the color and depth of acne scars, making them less obvious and more easily concealed.

Obviously, every individual’s face is different, and each person’s response to acne in terms of the type of damage can vary.  I am going to try to summarize the various types of acne-related damage and their respective treatments, but you will really need an individual face-to-face consultation in order to truly pick the right path for you.

For the rough texture and appearance caused by residual large pores or “blackheads”, the Hydrafacial is my go-to procedure.  This treatment removes the impurities and the cellular plugs that give blackheads their unsightly look.

After the Hydrafacial procedure, your skin will feel extremely moist and hydrated.  You will notice a less bumpy appearance to your skin, which can also lessen prospects for future outbreaks.

If you have reddish or brown pigmentation at the site of previous outbreaks, this discoloration can be caused by your skin’s response to the inflammation under the surface during an acne outbreak.  The most superficial treatment would involve a peel supervised by an aesthetician using various salicylic or glycolic acid concentrations.  Peels are most successful if this discoloration is relatively new and/or light in color.

Older discolorations or areas that are more darkly pigmented require treatments that will go deeper below the surface of the skin.  In these cases, lasers work best.

Specific wavelengths of laser will target the pigment in the cells involved in the red or brown spot.  This procedure results in the spot looking darker for 3-4 days.

After this short period, the pigmented cells will gently and slowly exfoliate over the subsequent several weeks.  The spots will get lighter and lighter with each subsequent treatment.

How many laser treatments an individual may need will depend on how dark the color is at the beginning and how close to perfect you want the result to be.  For most women, the goal is to lighten the spots so that they do not have to be constantly covered using heavier makeups.

If the skin is indented, then the acne has produced a true scar through multiple layers of the skin.  The intensity of the treatment to partially correct these indentations will depend on the depth of the scar.

For the more superficial indentations or scars, micro needling is the best choice.  This procedure involves using a device that rapidly punctures the skin over the scarred area with very small needles.

This technique results in a controlled injury that promotes collagen growth and healing in the treated area.  Once that area is healed, the appearance of the acne scar is significantly diminished.

For deeper scars, including those that are descriptively called “icepick” scars, a more intense treatment is needed.  Fraxel is the gold standard procedure for these deeper acne scars.

Fraxel is what is called a fractional laser.  Fractional lasers basically drills tiny microscopic holes in the skin similar to what the micro needling device does with its small needles.

The tiny holes produced by the laser, combined with the associated heat, boosts collagen production at deeper levels than the micro needling can reach.  This procedure results in some downtime in the first week after treatment, but also more significant improvement in the deeper scars.

Occasionally, a person (usually a man) will have a very deep individual scar that is unlikely to respond to any of the aforementioned treatments.  In this case, a dermal filler such as Juvederm can be used to lift up the tissue underneath the particular scar.  While the filler treatment is a temporary fix, it can actually last for up to a year in most cases.

As discussed above, the many variations of post-acne skin can be addressed with different modalities of treatment depending on the depth and age of the scarring or discoloration.  If you are concerned about your acne scarring, even if it occurred several years ago, we can most certainly help.

Many of these treatments can restore your self-confidence and allow you to put your best face forward!  Call us at (207) 873-2158 for a free and confidential consultation to address your individual concerns.

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