Acne scars can be just as emotionally damaging as acne itself. After struggling with breakouts for so long, many people find the right treatment only to be left with damaged, discolored skin. Although acne scars can lower self-esteem, you shouldn’t feel like there’s no hope. Acne doesn’t make anyone ugly, and neither does any scar or mark.
There are a lot of options to treating and healing acne scars on the market, ranging from over-the-counter products to surgical procedures. Read on to learn about five different ways you can get rid of your acne scars once and for all.
Understanding Acne Scars
There are two different types of acne scars. You may have one or a combination of both. Actual acne scars are caused by a loss of tissue when a cyst or nodule destroys skin cells in the affected area. The result is a deep, recessed mark that looks like a crater or pocket in the skin.
Discolored spots and marks, on the other hand, aren’t actually scars. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation causes the skin to produce more melanin after swelling. For people who had moderate to severe acne and frequent breakouts, inflamed blemishes usually fade and leave dark spots in their wake.
The treatment for each type of acne scarring differs. Generally, it’s easier to reduce the apperance of post-inflammatory hyperpgimentation. Most marks generally fade on their own in a year or two. Acne scars will require a medical professional to help restore the skin that was lost and damaged.
1. Topical Treatments
Over-the-counter acne scar products can help restore discolored skin. A dermatologist can also prescribe retinoids, which help lighten dark spots and marks left by blemishes. Deep acne scars or recessed pits in the skin will need more than a topical treatment to resolve, but these medications can help even out your overall complexion.
2. Punch Procedures
Punch techniques can help elevate the skin of deep, recessed acne scars. There are many different types of scars that may benefit from this procedure including boxcar and ice pick scars.
Skin punching involves cutting the damaged tissue away from the skin so new, healthy skin can take its place. Other forms of punch treatments like punch grafting use a skin graft with skin from behind the ear. There is minimal scarring involved, and the final result is much fainter than the original scar.
3. Dermal Fillers
A plastic surgeon or dermatologist can inject a substance directly into an acne scar to make it appear fuller and more even. The results of dermal fillers aren’t permanent, so the procedure must be repeated.
Filler options include fat taken directly from your body, human or bovine collagen or hyaluronic acid. Dermal fillers for acne scars help improve skin texture and can last anywhere from six months to two years.
4. Chemical Peels
A chemical peel helps rejuvenate your skin texture by removing the surface layer. Hyperpigmentation can be lightened and evened out with a chemical peel, and there are specific types of peels that are designed to target acne scars.
Chemical peels are best for mild acne scarring, according to the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. They are often affordable and best for people with fair skin complexion.
Most chemical peels for acne scars use glycolic or trichloroacetic acid. Depending on the severity of your acne scarring and your skin complexion, multiple superficial chemical peels may be a better option than a more intensive procedure.
5. Lasering Treatments
Lasering can either treat hyperpigmentation or be used to resurface the skin and restore a smooth, even texture. Sometimes called “laser peeling,” resurfacing utilized a wand-like tool to remove the first several layers of skin.
There are two types of acne lasering: ablative and non-ablative. Ablative acne scar lasering removes the top layers of skin before it heats the deeper layers to stimulate healthy cell growth. Non-ablative procedures only heat the underlying tissue, leaving the surface of your skin untouched.
Choosing the Right Treatment for Your Acne Scars
Talking to your dermatologist is the best way to determine the right treatment for you. Different acne scars require more aggressive forms of treatment, but you may not want to undergo some of the more intensive procedures that many plastic surgeons and websites frequently recommend.
Most acne scars never disappear completely, but that’s okay. You do not need flawless skin to be beautiful or to feel self-confident. You don’t have to strive for perfection; most people with moderate to severe scarring will never completely remove them. Keep your expectations realistic, and look at many different before and after photos so you can get a good idea of what each treatment can do for you.