Many people who currently have acne or have experienced acne in the past suffer from acne scars. These are noticeable marks or indentations on the skin where pimples once existed. For some people, acne scars may consist of only a few marks. However, others who have suffered from severe acne may be left with scarring on significant portions of their face. Even once the acne is gone, the scars can be just as difficult to cover up and embarrassing to deal with.
Fortunately, there are several acne scar treatments available today. Read on to learn more about different acne scar treatment options to find out if one of these is right for you.
Because they are easy to acquire and less invasive than some other options, a good place to start with acne scar treatments is topical medications. A visit to the drug store will reveal that there are several over-the-counter (OTC) creams that claim to help treat acne scars. Some topical treatments are also available through a prescription from your main physician or dermatologist. Many of these OTC and prescription options contain a bleaching agent called hydroquinone as well as Retin-A and alpha hydroxyl acid. While the bleaching agent lightens the areas of skin that have been darkened with acne scars, the Retin-A and alpha hydroxyl acid stimulate the formation of new collagen. While these creams are generally unable to eliminate the scars altogether, many people find that they at least help to reduce the appearance of the acne scars that they have.
With many of these products, it's best to use a very small amount to start off with to see how your skin reacts. Some topical treatments lead to side effects such as redness or itchiness. If you would rather try a natural remedy first, apply vitamin E to your scars. Many people find this to be relatively effective when it comes to lightening discoloration from acne scars.
For some types of acne scarring, skin treatments can be extremely beneficial. The two most popular procedures in this category are:
- Chemical peels: This procedure involves the careful application of certain chemicals to the skin. The way in which the chemicals are applied dissolves the scarred tissue cells and encourages the growth of new skin, creating a more even skin tone and smoother, healthier looking skin. Some of the most common chemicals involved in this process include glycolic acid, salicylic acid and phenol. In most cases, this process doesn't take very long and the recovery time is short.
- Microdermabrasion: This is a term used to describe the mechanical resurfacing of the skin. Abrasive tools are used to remove the outer layers of skin and create a smoother surface where acne scars are much less visible. Though it sounds quite harsh, microdermabrasion only affects the most superficial portions of the skin. This removes the dead layer of cells on the surface and creates a more even skin tone. This procedure is relatively quick and requires little recovery time.
Both chemical peels and microdermabrasion are widely available at many dermatology offices and spas. These types of treatment are typically more successful for those with discoloration in their skin from their scars rather than for those who have depressions or other uneven skin surface problems with their scarring. Ask a dermatologist or a licensed skin care specialist if you suffer from both types of scarring as this may still be a good option for you.
Severe acne scarring may warrant the use of more serious measures, such as surgical treatment. There are a few key options for surgical removal of acne scars, including:
- Laser resurfacing: With this procedure, a laser is applied to areas of the skin in order to remove the top layer of skin. While doing so, the laser also helps to tighten the middle layer of skin. This combination creates smoother skin. Because the process can be a little painful, most doctors apply a local anesthesia before completing the laser resurfacing. Although the surgical procedure itself is relatively quick, healing can take between 3-to-10 days, says KidsHealth.org.
- Dermabrasion: This is much like microdermabrasion in that tools are used to wear away layers of skin. Dermabrasion, however, is much more invasive than microdermabrasion because it removes more layers of skin. It also takes longer to complete this procedure and requires between 10 days and 3 weeks to recover fully as the skin heals after the treatment. In the end, the skin looks smoother and many deep acne scars can be removed this way.
- Subcision: Though less common that laser resurfacing or dermabrasion, subcision is another great option for removing serious acne scars. With this method, a needle is inserted under the scar. As the needle is moved, it helps to release the scar tissue and allow the skin to heal smoothly. This is relatively quick procedure, but it does require local anesthesia in order to complete comfortably.
Because they affect deeper layers of the skin, these procedures are quite effective at removing depressions or raised areas of the skin where acne scars have formed. However, they also may be more painful, take longer to complete and require a longer recovery period. Infection is also a greater risk because of the deeper layers of skin that may be exposed or affected during these treatments. It's very important to consult with your doctor before deciding to have one of these surgical procedures done because of the risks and intensive recovery time involved.