Acne Scars and What You Can Do About Them
If you have acne or suffered from acne in your youth, you are not alone. Acne is one of the most common skin diseases in the U.S., affecting an estimated 60 million people across the country. Acne causes inflammation in the lower layer of the skin, called the dermis. It is characterized by clogged pores, whiteheads, blackheads, and cysts. These may appear on the face, neck, chest, and upper arms, as well as the back and shoulders.
Acne will unfortunately cause scars in some sufferers, while in others it will not.
There are four types of acne scars:
- Ice pick: deep, narrow pits usually less than 1/10-inch wide.
- Box car: angular scars with sharp vertical edges, which may be deep or shallow, usually found on the temples and cheeks.
- Rolling: caused by damage under the surface of the skin, these are shallow and wide, giving the skin a wave-like appearance.
- Hypertrophic: lumpy and raised, they generally appear on the chest and back, but may occur on the face and neck.
What Can I Do About My Acne Scars?
There are a number of options for reducing the appearance of acne scars:
- Fractional laser with CO2 uses a pixelated beam of light to make tiny holes in the skin, which then responds by peeling off old cells and replacing them with new skin. Most patients will require several treatments for maximum results.
- Erbium laser treatment sends an intense, pulsating beam of light into the targeted area. It eliminates damaged cells on the surface of the skin, allowing new skin to form in its place. Most patients will require several treatments for maximum results.
- Non-ablative Lasers, such as the VBeam – associated with minimal or no downtime. Results are progressive and patients require multiple treatments. New and red colored scars respond better than older and deeper ones. Studies show that the scar remodeling continues up to six months after the laser treatment has been given. Patients who notice minimal improvement during the treatment report at least 50% improvement six months later. 70% of all treated patients notice significant improvement after completion of the series of Laser treatments. We usually recommend topical creams to enhance the results.
- Dermal fillers such as Restylane and others are injected into the scarred areas to fill in and smooth out depressions in the skin. The procedure requires no downtime and results may last 6 – 16 months depending of the filler used. This procedure offer immediate results and requires periodic touch ups to maintain the results.
- Microneedling with Rejuvapen stimulates the skin natural healing abilities and collagen production. Patients need four-six treatments two weeks apart for optimal results. Smoother, rejuvenated skin and improved appearance of acne scars result from this treatment. Down time is minimal thus the procedure is suitable for busy professionals or individuals who cannot afford the downtime of more aggressive laser treatments
- Glycolic acid and salicylic acid peels are superficial chemical peels that produce shedding of the outer layers of skin. They may help to reduce minor acne scars. Redness and peeling will last for about 5 days.
- Trichloroacetic acid peels are deeper chemical peels that uncover a healthier, smoother layer of skin by removing dead skin cells. Recovery time is longer than with the lighter peels. Skin may be red, swollen and somewhat sore for up to 2 weeks.
- Microdermabrasion uses fine crystals to exfoliate the skin and vacuum suction to remove dead skin cells. It is rapid and painless but not particularly effective on its own. It is often used in combination with the lighter chemical peels, or as part of a maintenance plan after laser treatment.
For best results we often customize a few treatments. Dr. Gallacher will take into account the type and severity of your acne scars in order to help you determine the best options for you.