How To Get Rid Of Acne Scars For Good
This is a guest post courtesy of Dr. Christopher Pavlou, the Founder, Owner, and practicing medical and aesthetics doctor at Skin Technique in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Dealing with acne and everything that comes with it can be bad enough, but for people who develop scars afterwards it can be even more disconcerting. Thankfully, there are a few treatments that can help get rid of your acne scars permanently and restore your self-confidence. How effective each treatment can be on your acne scars depends on the type of scarring and your skin type, so it is worth consulting with a doctor or a dermatologist to advise you on the best course of action for you to take.
Chemical peels use various types of natural acids and other ingredients that promote good skin health to basically remove the surface layer of skin. There are different types of chemical peels that you can get that will affect how deeply the peel will affect your skin, and what other benefits it might have. To get rid of acne scars, there are really three types of peels to ask your doctor or dermatologist about.
A glycolic acid peel is the first type that affects a more superficial level of your skin and can help acne scarring look less pronounced or get rid of smaller, minor scars. Medium-level peels using trichloracetic acid penetrate deeper than glycolic acid peels, and help reduce or eliminate more significant and larger scarring than more superficial peels. Finally, there are extremely deep peels that can get rid of even significant scarring but come with potential side effects — you should consult your doctor or specialist performing the procedure to find out if it is right for you.
All of these peels work on the same principle: the acid removes the layers of skin closest to the surface, including any scar tissue. Other active ingredients clean out your pores, and promote the production of new, healthier skin cells. The freshly exposed layer of skin with new skin cells will diminish the size and appearance of your acne scars until — after enough treatments — they are completely gone.
Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are skin treatments that exfoliate the top layer of your skin with special abrasive instruments. The instruments essentially injure the skin in minor ways to remove the surface layers of your skin and promote the natural healing process of your skin. In that sense, it works similar to chemical peels, except it uses abrasive tools to manually strip the skin layer rather than acidic compounds.
This treatment might sound more daunting than it is. It is done in a very controlled manner—microdermabrasion in particular is even more controlled and focused because it uses microcrystals and is gentler on your skin. Both abrasive treatments can be used on your acne scars to strip the top layer of scar tissue and encourage your body to replace it with new, healthy, normal skin cells.
Where chemical peels tend to be applied to an entire are of skin, dermabrasion and microdermabrasion can be used only on the specific areas of skin that were scarred by acne. It usually takes a few treatments to really start noticing your scars decreasing in size, until they're gone for good.
Micro-needling is a treatment that specifically helps atrophic acne scars — this is scarring that looks like little depressed pits, which is caused by your skin failing to replenish the flesh lost during the process of your skin recovering from acne.
Micro-needling as a treatment uses a different approach from chemical peels or dermabrasion, in that it does not remove any layer of skin. Instead, it uses microscopic needles to puncture your skin on and around your scars in order to promote an increased production of collagen, the protein in your body that promotes healthy skin cell production. This encourages the collagen to fill in the pitted scars in order to make your skin smooth again.
While it has been found to be successful in treating atrophic acne scars, it is not as effective in treating the raised, bumpy keloid scars. This is because keloid scars are formed by an overproduction of collagen during your skin's healing process, so getting your skin to make more in that area won't help much.
Laser treatment for acne scars is a newer method of getting rid of acne scars. It uses intense pulsed light (IPL) to penetrate your skin's surface layer — specifically, it punctures the skin cells in the scarred area, allowing your body to naturally absorb them and replace them with new, healthy skin cells. Each treatment takes less than an hour, and might take as many as half a dozen treatments over a period of a few months.
It works well on all types of acne scars and skin, because there are a variety of laser types that can be used. As a result of the heat of the laser, your skin may feel sensitive, dry, and/or swollen, as if it were sunburned. Those side effects will heal naturally in time, but you can ask the doctor performing the treatment for tips on how to properly manage the side effects.
Radio Frequency (RF) Treatments
RF treatment for acne scars is similar to laser treatment, but instead of using the light from lasers it uses pulses of energy from radio waves emitted by a specialized instrument. The heat and energy from the RF waves causes the scar tissue to break down and dissolve, allowing it to be absorbed by your body just like during laser treatment. It is non-invasive and very gentle, with a combination of extremely focused precision and energy that is less harmful than lasers. It is so gentle that you can combine it with other acne scar treatments.
Your skin will be red after each treatment for a day or so, but it won't be as dry or inflamed as with laser treatments. It usually requires 3 to 6 treatments to fully get rid of your acne scars for good, depending on the severity of your scarring, your skin type, and if you are also using other scar treatment methods to accelerate the process. If you do want to combine treatments, you should consult with your doctor about the best combination approach.
About the Author:
Dr. Christopher Pavlou is medical doctor and board certified in aesthetic medicine. He is the owner and founder of Skin Technique, a medical aesthetic clinic in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.
He has brought his philosophy of Honour Your Beauty to Skin Technique by offering a variety of specialized services including dermal fillers, anti wrinkle treatments, lasers and coolsculpting. When he isn’t performing naturally rejuvenating treatments and procedures, he loves to share his expertise and knowledge on aesthetic artistry with others who are looking to educate themselves in the evolving field of aesthetic medicine.