Inflammatory acne (acne types: 3-4) can permanently damage underlying tissue, leaving behind acne scars.
The best way to approach treating anything on the skin is to make sure you know what you’re treating.
So first things first, you need to rule out what’s not an acne scar.
A dark, flat patch that is left behind by a breakout is not an acne scar; this is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which is often confused for acne scars by my clients.
PIH is, in fact, your body’s natural response to skin trauma, which is always why you should not scratch or pick your skin – these marks will often fade on their own, providing the trauma does not sit deep in the dermis.
True acne scars have texture irregularities, not just hyper-pigmentation. They appear like a small indentation in the skin, but in some instances, they can also be slightly raised.
If this sounds like what you’re dealing with, then it’s likely you know from experience that acne scars can be particularly difficult to treat. There are a number of treatments that can help significantly to reduce acne scars, that don’t require surgical intervention.
While the most important thing is to take immediate action to control your acne and prevent further damage, there is hope for people who have acne scars.
The best choice of acne scar treatment depends on the type of scarring. Minor damage can be repaired with relatively mild topical treatments, repairing moderate to severe acne scars may require surgical treatments.
On this page, you can find answers about how acne scars form, an overview of the many types of acne scars, and the types of treatments available for acne scars.
Acne scars treatment
Topical treatments are excellent options for mild to moderate acne scars, and many types of abnormal pigmentation.
Retinoids like the kind found in A+ complex are an excellent way to stimulate cellular turnover at the skin surface and the growth of new tissue and collagen in the dermis, whilst also balancing sebum production on the surface of the skin.
This is a great treatment for smoothing an uneven surface. This treatment involves the use of fine crystals being directly applied to the skin.
The crystals help to lift dead skin cells from the surface, whilst stimulating new cells and collagen production. Because this is mechanical exfoliation, the therapist does have a greater degree of control when it comes to targeting areas of concern; a course of microdermabrasion treatments is usually recommended.
This treatment is not to be confused with microdermabrasion, the non-surgical treatment that can be performed by aestheticians.
Medical dermabrasion is an intense form of surgical skin planing, which has to be performed under anesthetic and can only be performed by medical professionals. It is a really successful treatment for facial scarring because it reaches living tissue in the dermis, however, with the advent of new technology, this treatment has now largely been replaced by lasers.
The following article on laser treatment for acne scars is a question-and-answer guide that you may find useful.
This ingredient comes from the acid that is found in sugar cane, making it one of the most natural treatments for acne scars.
These peels gently remove dead, dull, pitted skin from the skin’s surface; it literally slouches away dead cells in order to encourage cellular regeneration, revealing smoother, brighter skin underneath.
This is a treatment that we recommend using as a spot treatment.
Used in this way, you can get some really great results with treating scars and uneven skin texture, which may have occurred as a result of acne.
The reason we don’t recommend using this treatment all over the face is that it is just too harsh for delicate skin tissue. It can also cause severe inflammation in the dermis.
Phenol peels are the deepest chemical peels for acne scars and can have very dramatic results on the skin, sometimes even just after one treatment.
Because there are side effects to this treatment, these types of peels are now being replaced with laser treatment.
You can read more about peels here.
The Naked Truth
The type of exfoliation used on acne scars will entirely depend on the severity and grade of acne.
It is important to note that surface exfoliation modalities, such as microdermabrasion and light peels, will only provide mild improvement in acne scars. This is because they don’t reach deep enough to stimulate complete skin regeneration.
Before embarking on any treatment, it is really important that you get any skin sensitivity treated, in order to bring inflammation under control. Many prescription treatments leave the skin photosensitive, dry, and fragile.
If you are on prescription treatments, then no exfoliation should be performed for at least 6 months following the completion of the internal treatment.