In my quest to help my family with their acne woes, I have researched the best ways to get rid of acne scars.
Acne is the bane of a lot of teenagers, and almost everyone gets acne to a certain degree. One person may only get a couple of pimples while another will be unfairly deluged with a face full of unsightly pustules. If you have had a rather tough time battling a severe case of acne, you undoubtedly display the badge of honor more commonly known as "pockmarks." If you're reading this article, you most certainly are searching for the best way to get rid of acne scars.
Unfortunately, there is no magical pill to get rid of acne scars, and ultimately, there is no easy solution. The good news is that there are some great remedies for combatting the scar tissue produced from acne. Some of the best ways to get rid of acne scars include punch excision, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, dermaplaning, subscision, soft tissue augmentation, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels.
Why Does Acne Cause Scarring?
You might not realize it, but your skin is actually an organ of the human body. It is one of the largest organs in terms of surface area and weight.
Acne occurs when there is a blockage in a skin pore or follicle. This blockage can be caused by a buildup of dead skin cells in the pore, excessive oil gland secretions that have been infiltrated by bacteria, or a combination of both. When white blood cells of the immune system attempt to attack and kill bacteria, the inflammation worsens. Acne can be kept under control by following a proper daily facial skincare regimen.
Testosterone in males or adrenal and ovarian hormones in females stimulate the oil or sebaceous gland secretions. The severe acne where scarring occurs is called cystic acne. As the inflammation in the skin pore continues, the follicle wall breaks down. The body reacts by sending collagen which is fibrous tissue to the damaged area. Sometimes there is too much collagen which causes an excessive buildup. Sometimes tissue is lost. Both instances lead to permanent scarring.
Dermatology is the medical specialty that deals with diagnosing and treating skin disorders. So, someone with cystic acne would typically seek medical advice for handling this condition from a dermatologist. If scarring results, he may want to also consult with a plastic surgeon.
An individual could seek the services of a trained esthetician to treat milder conditions of scarring. The cost of the services will be much less and you can get similar treatments that you would get from a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
Determining the Best Treatment for Acne Scars
An individual with severe acne can attempt to prevent or minimize scarring in the first place by looking for the early warning signs. Inflammation is a great indicator of scar development. The greater the inflammation of the skin, the more likely scarring will occur.
When you notice this happening, see a dermatologist immediately to help get your acne under control. He can review your daily face cleansing regimen and/or prescribe a special medication. Accutane has been known to work wonders in treating severe acne conditions.
Different types of scarring and facial topography can develop depending on the severity of the cystic acne. Ice pick and boxcar scars are two types of pockmarks that are prevalent. These are atrophic scars where indentations are formed in the skin.
Ice pick scars, like the name implies, look like they were caused by a puncture with an ice pick. Boxcar scars are u-shaped depressions in the skin which are very similar to the scars caused by a bout with chickenpox. Unlike ice pick or boxcar scars, a type of raised scar referred to as a hypertrophic or keloid scar can develop. They are caused by an overproduction of collagen in the skin or excessive tissue repair and are most often found on the torso, especially with men.
These scarring patterns along with the age of the person and the skin type can influence the type of treatment for acne scarring. Older people heal more slowly. Black skin or other dark complexions may become permanently discolored or blotchy after a skin refinishing treatment. Freckles may disappear in the treated area.
Remember, before any treatment for scarring can occur, the acne must be cleared up and you need to be on a daily regimen of using a good skin cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. If you still have acne, do not pick at it. This can cause as much scarring as the acne itself. You will need to continue your daily skincare regimen until the acne clears up before pursuing scar tissue treatment. Please do not over-clean your face. This can have the opposite effect of what you're trying to achieve. It will stimulate the sebaceous glands and exacerbate the problem.
Are you still interested in the best way to get rid of acne scars? Well, the treatment for heavy acne scarring consists of punch excision techniques, subcision, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, dermaplaning, augmentation, and chemical peels. They can be performed as a separate procedure or in combination with one another.
These procedures can be rather costly but can produce amazing results. Even though these are the best procedures for deep scarring, they cannot be guaranteed to remove all scars and prevent aging. Remember what I said earlier about the miracle acne solution.
Let's take a look at each of these techniques:
The punch excision procedure seems to be the best way to treat the ice pick type of acne scar. It involves using a small punch tool. This tool is often described as a tiny circular cookie cutter shaped device. It removes or cuts out the scar from the skin. After the scar is removed or excised, the skin is sutured or sewn up to close the wound.
Typically a small scar is left from this treatment that is much less noticeable than the original ice box scar. There is a chance that this scar will fade with time. If over time the scar still remains or faster results are desired, then a milder resurfacing procedure such as an ablasive laser treatment or microdermabrasion can be pursued.
Punch Excision With Grafting
In this procedure, the scar tissue is removed the same way as with the punch excision. However, instead of stitching the resulting wound, a skin graft can be used to fill the void.
The graft can be taken from anywhere on the body but is usually taken from a less conspicuous spot behind the ear. A slightly noticeable scar can still be left after the grafting because the skin pigment where the graft is taken might be a little different than the pigment at the location of the skin it is used to replace. These scars can also be removed or softened with a milder resurfacing procedure.
Punch Excision Elevation
For deep boxcar scars where the base of the scar resembles normal textured skin, the punch elevation technique may be used. During punch excision elevation, only the base of the scar is removed. The doctor uses this base to fill in the hole or gap at the skin's surface. He is, in effect, elevating the base tissue and using it to fill in or replace the surface of the skin.
This base tissue is then attached to the surrounding skin with sutures, steri-strips, or a skin glue such as Dermabond. Unlike the punch excision with grafting procedure, the skin after this procedure should have the same tone and texture as the surrounding tissue.
This procedure, which is also referred to as a subcutaneous incision, basically involves cutting the underlying connective tissue of the damaged skin. This action produces a collection of blood around the cut tissue. After several days, the blood is absorbed and the scar surface is elevated to match the level of the surrounding skin.
Subcision is particularly useful for treating small pitted acne scars where there is less fibrous connective tissue. A mild chemical peel treatment administered after the subcision heals often gives better results.
This procedure, also known as a laser peel, laser vaporization, or lasabrasion, uses a laser that emits short, intense pulses of light to vaporize a layer or layers of skin. The doctor specifies the amount of energy transmitted to the skin's surface by the laser beam and controls the depth of penetration. The laser can be used on the entire face or other specific areas of the body. Some older patients may even benefit from the laser's mild tightening effect it has on the skin.
There are two types of laser resurfacing: ablative and non-ablative. Since the non-ablative type offers a much deeper treatment, I will describe it here. The ablative type of treatment will be discussed under the best mild acne scar treatments.
Non-ablative laser resurfacing uses an intense beam of yellow light to gently stimulate production of new collagen while bypassing the outer layer of skin. This stimulated collagen growth is an attempt to rebuild normal skin cells from the inside out with the hope of improving the appearance and feel of the skin.
This procedure uses a newer, gentler laser technology that does not remove skin and is not invasive. As a result, there is minimal downtime for recovery. The procedure can be performed as an outpatient during your lunch hour if you wish. Non-ablative laser therapy generally requires a series of treatments to achieve the maximum benefit.
The surgeon uses a motorized handle device to scrape away the outermost layers of skin. The device can use either a rough wire brush attachment or attachment with a rough surface similar to a heavy sandpaper. The doctor continues to sand down layers of skin until he reaches what he considers to be the safest level that will reduce the acne scar.
A hand-held instrument called a dermatome, which looks like an electric razor, is used for this procedure. The dermatome has an oscillating blade that moves back and forth to evenly slice off the surface layers of skin that surround the craters or other facial defects. This slicing continues until the lowest point of the acne scar becomes more even or level with the surrounding skin.
Soft Tissue Augmentation
This procedure is used to correct damaged skin where atrophic scars are prevalent. The scarred area is filled with a certain substance, normally collagen or fat, that is used to raise the basin of the scarred skin to the surface level. Other filler substances that may be used are isolagen, fascian, restylane, artecoll, aquamid, and alloderm. At present, this procedure needs to be repeated every 6–10 months. There is ongoing research to find a substance that can be used for a permanent solution.
Deep Chemical Peels
This procedure may also be referred to as a Phenol treatment. It is a non-surgical cosmetic procedure that can dramatically improve the aesthetic appearance of the skin. As its name implies, a deep chemical peel penetrates the deeper layers of the skin to correct damage and imperfections.
Unlike other milder chemical peels, only one of these treatments is needed and the result lasts for many years. However, the recovery time is much longer for this peel and it can be quite uncomfortable in terms of pain. People with darker skin or heavy freckles may not be good candidates for a deep chemical peel because there can be a noticeable difference between the treated and untreated areas. This peel can also cause the skin to become permanently pale with the inability to tan and cause uneven skin pigmentation.
The Best Treatment for Mild Acne Scars
If you are interested in more ways to get rid of acne scars, here are some treatments for mild acne scarring. They consist of ablative laser resurfacing, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels.
You may get these treatments from a plastic surgeon, dermatologist or certified esthetician. As I mentioned earlier, the treatments from an esthetician will be much more affordable and there are some highly trained and experienced estheticians offering these services.
Let's take a look at each of these treatments:
Ablative Laser Resurfacing
CO2 and erbium lasers are the two types of lasers used for ablative laser resurfacing. These lasers are normally used to vaporize only the top layer of skin.
The carbon dioxide laser allows the doctor to focus and adjust a highly intense beam over the selected area of skin. The treatment is usually very effective, but the recovery time is about two months.
The erbium type of laser emits light that is designed to be absorbed by water as the light hits the skin. Skin cells are mostly made up of water, so the heat from the laser is evenly dispersed over the skin. Erbium laser treatments are preferred over CO2 because they are more precise and the recovery time from the treatment is normally less than a week. Erbium laser resurfacing is also better for treating dark skin because it is less likely to cause hypopigmentation or lightening of the skin.
Microdermabrasion is a procedure where aluminum oxide crystals are sprayed on the surface of the skin while at the same time a vacuum-like suction is created which produces a light sanding or buffing of the skin surface while removing the dead skin cells.
This treatment produces a gentle resurfacing of the most superficial layer of the skin and softens and brightens the appearance of the treated skin. Microdermabrasion normally needs to be repeated in a series of treatments to achieve the best results.
For this procedure, a chemical solution is used to remove the damaged outer layers of dead skin cells from the skin surface and to stimulate the cells' regenerative process. There are different types of these chemical peels available. Most include either a glycolic or salicylic acid solution which may be applied at different strength levels.
This procedure will improve the texture and tone of the skin, hydrate it, reduce pore size, clear blemishes and help balance oil production to present an overall healthier skin appearance. Unlike the deep chemical peel, this procedure is superficial. It does not penetrate beyond the epidermis or papillary dermis layer of the skin.This type of chemical peel is normally offered in a series of treatments.
Only Yourx and Rhonda Allison provide some of the best facial skin care chemical peel products on the market.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
fishkin on February 14, 2017:
interested in deep acne treatment for my son.
tanya on September 12, 2016:
Ive had a deep scar on my forehead for 7 years and has always knocked my confidence - BUT I've used the CItrus Clear Tangerine Tingle Scrub for about a week now and I have nothing but good things to say about it! I My deep dark scar is already noticeably different; a lot lighter. Highly recommended, and I just want to thank the company for giving me a massive confidence boost
sasa beauty on February 27, 2014:
you will not be able to make acne scars disappear in a single night, best thing to do is buy an aloe vera plant and use the sap from a broken leaf.
alpz23 on June 03, 2011:
hello what's the best way to remove my keloids scars on my face..hope you can help me on my problem..tenx more power guys..
Libby :D on February 01, 2011:
great page! but isn't there a cream that you can get for scars? i think i heard of it but i'm not 100% sure. but if not is there a super simple way to get rid of them??
shil on June 17, 2010:
I have had bad acne since i was 11 years old and tried any crems. The most effective I have used is Clearasil ultra which works in three days. It really does work in three days because when I statred using it two days later people commented on how good my skin looks
Paula VanPraag on April 06, 2010:
I have ice pick scars on my face. i have had 2 co2 laser done but not happy at all cost me 1495.00. Is ther a good peel i could try where i will not be out of work more than a day? Thanks please let me know asap. email@example.com
kirstenblog from London UK on August 02, 2009:
its great for me that they work, my skin is sensitive and doesn't like chemicals so make up is a rare thing for me :). It did take me a while to find something that worked and at one point the doctors were giving me tetracycline (heavy duty anti- biotic) that upset my stomach and seems to do nothing at all for my spots!
conradtempleton (author) from Florida on August 02, 2009:
Kirsten, the inflammation is the key. Keep it down and you will minimize the chance of scars. Its great to hear that some natural remedies do the trick for you.
kirstenblog from London UK on August 02, 2009:
What a great and helpful hub page! I used to get very bad acne (a few times came close to being a boil). Fortunately any scars have faded by quite a lot now so isn't a big problem for me anymore. I have found that tea tree and witch hazel help keep any spots I get these days from getting big or inflamed or infected and as a result means no new scars! Both of these are natural and are safe for sensitive skin.