If acne scars make you feel self-conscious or you believe your appearance is holding you back from opportunities at work, school or in your social life, there are treatments to make acne scars less noticeable.
Start by seeing your dermatologist or physician for a consultation including an examination of your scars. He or she will come up with a treatment plan that considers scar types, width, depth, amount of skin involved and location, as well as your skin type and colour. Most people will need two or more different types of treatment for best results.
Be realistic when it comes to expectations. Most medical treatments for acne scars offer improvement in the 40-50% range over the course of a few months to a year or more.
Treatments For Depressed Scars:
There are various treatment options for depressed (indented hole) or atrophic scars.
- Scar surgery
These in-office medical procedures are for noticeable, large and/or deep scars. The scar is removed and replaced with a smaller, flatter scar that will lessen with time. Alternatively, the scar is lifted and boosted underneath to make it level with the skin’s surface.
- Laser resurfacing
Lasers can be used on all types of scarring although depressed rolling scars are best suited for laser surgery. Many lasers are non-ablative – that is they don’t remove any tissue – and simply heat the skin to stimulate new collagen production.
This treatment is used for a few depressed scars. Filler injections plump up scars to reduce the appearance. Results are quick but most are not permanent. Fillers remain in the skin for 6-12 months. PMMA (polymethylmethacrylate) is the only permanent filler material available. Side effects from most fillers are minimal such as mild temporary swelling and redness or bumps.
- Chemical peels
Often used in combination with other treatments, potent concentrations of chemicals such as trichloracetic acid are applied to the skin in order to remove a thin, top layer. New skin forms, giving a smoother more even appearance to the skin.
Treatments For Raised Scars:
There are a variety of treatments for raised or hypertrophic scars (scroll down here for more about this type of acne scar).
Injections of corticosteroids into the scars work to soften and flatten these thick scars as well as to reduce the associated pain and itch . Injection treatments may need to be repeated every 4-6 weeks.
- Scar removal surgery
- Laser and light therapies
Lasers and light therapies can flatten raised scars as well as reduce pain caused.
Freezing lessens the scar tissue. Several sessions are usually needed. Other treatments may be used at the same time to improve results.
- Scar preparations
Creams, gels, bandages and dressings, available without a prescription, may reduce the size of raised scars, as well as some of the associated pain and itching. However, none eliminate these scars. Side effects are few but skin can become itchy and red. Stop use of these products if this happens.