Having acne is terrible, but the scarring it leaves behind, will most likely stay unless you find a way to get rid them. Thankfully, there are many procedures and products to help with that. Just like there are different types of acne there are different types of scars, but what they all have in common is that they can last the rest of your life.
Fortunately, these can be treated, by taking the right kind of care of your skin, and some help from your doctor. AEDIT.com spoke to West Hollywood plastic surgeon, Dr. Roger Tsai, MD, to get expert advice on the best ways to treat acne scars, so you can leave them in your past.
What Causes Acne Marks And Scars
Basically acne marks and scars are just pimples that haven’t healed properly, whether from popping them or picking or just not treating them properly. I remember my mom always saying don’t touch them just leave them alone, now you know why.
Sometimes, even when we follow every rule on how to take care of our skin, we can still end up with scars and marks later. One thing I didn’t know, was that one person may end up with worse scarring due to genetics.
The best way to reduce damage later on is to properly care for the skin. Avoid sun exposure and use doctor recommend products as well as not picking or popping the pimples.
Difference Between Acne Marks And Scarring
Until finding this research, I thought acne scars and marks were the same, but unlike acne scars, marks are smooth to the touch and there will be a dark pigmentation to the skin .
As a pimple heals, the inflammation can cause a dark mark, although you don’t want any marks or discoloration to the skin, Dr Tsai states that acne marks are easier to get rid of than acne scarring due to the fact that acne marks don’t damage the collagen in the skin.
They may not look great, but with the right care they typically fade after a few months. There are several products and treatments available to help this along.
- Sunblock – We can’t stress enough how important sunscreen use is every day, for acne sufferers it is critical, there was information going around years ago stating that tanning helps with acne, but that isn’t the case. The sun actually can cause your pimples to worsen and make dark marks more noticeable, I actually had that happen to me. I had pretty bad melasma just pop up out of nowhere. You must wear sunblock every day, even when it is cloudy and even when you’re inside. Zinc based products and acne friendly brands are best, like COOLA and Farmacy.
- Chemical Peels – A treatment that’s designed to smooth out the surface of the skin, chemicals remove the surface skin cells, which increases cell turnover. This process can help remove dead skin cells and treat hyper pigmentation that can be caused by acne flare-ups. There are a number of different chemical peels, from high strength, low strength, in home peels and clinical. Always talk to a board certified dermatologist to find out the best kind for your skin type.
- Topical Serums / Creams – A popular topical solution is Vitamin C serum. It is full of antioxidants that promote skin healing. Before applying any serum to the skin, it is best to exfoliate first to remove the dead skin cells which will help the product absorb into the layers of the skin.Vitamin C also can clear up hyper pigmentation and dark spots. This is a really powerful anti aging tool. Dr. Tsai also recommends skin exfoliation creams and retinoids, like Tretinoin, and skin brightening products, like Hydroquinone, to help quicken skin turn over for some patients. Retinoids can not only treat dark marks but also have been shown to prevent acne breakouts in the first place. And can be prescribed by a doctor or bought over-the-counter. Retinoid creams can be prescribed by a doctor or bought over the counter, but can be harsh on the skin. When using retinoids, always remember to stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen to prevent further skin damage.
- Laser Resurfacing – “Lasers like an IPL (Intense Pulse Light) are effective in removing darker pigmentation quicker,” Dr. Roger Tsai recommends. Fractional resurfacing lasers, like FRAXEL, and picosecond lasers, like PicoSure, have also been proven to help with skin texture issues including dark marks.
Types Of Acne Scars And Treatments
Acne scars are caused when the healing process begins and replaces skin tissue with fibrous tissue instead.” Acne scars are actual indentations created from scar tissue that has grown into the empty space of the pimple and has created a contour deformity,” says Dr. Tsai.
The body can respond by making too much of this tissue or not enough. When too much tissue forms, the result is a raised keloid scar. On the other hand not enough tissue is formed causing a depression in the skin known as an atrophoic scar.
Scars form for different reasons and there are different treatments for each type of scar. Acne marks are easier to treat than acne scars, unfortunately the scars are more permanent and harder to treat but their appearance can be softened with certain acne treatments.
Ice Pick Scars – An ice pick scar is scarring that is depressed deep into the skin resembling a puncture. Due to the depth, ice pick scars are harder to treat.
- Micro needling or CO2 Laser – With multiple ice pick scars, all over treatments such as CO2 Laser or Micro needling can help. These treatments help to build collagen to fill in the depressed areas in the skin from the inside out. Also, we have to take into consideration, the skin type and scarring because these are not one size fits all treatments.
- Punch Incision – This is more of a surgical procedure, which punches out or removes the scar to make way for new skin. The surgeon will “punch” out the scar to create an opening that will allow extraction of the cyst or pore. After removal, the doctor will either stitch up the hole or use skin grafting (also known as punch grafting), which uses skin from another part of the body to fill the hole.
- Dermal Fillers – Fillers are used to fill in the holes which plumps up the indentations in the skin. Always ask the doctor which type is right for your skin.
- At Home Solutions – There are less invasive options you can use at home such as retinoids and chemical peels.
Boxcar Scars – Boxcar scarring is similar to ice pick scars, but the difference is the shape, more of a square shape and broader. They are treated the same way as ice pick scars.
Rolling scars – These are shallower than the ice pick and boxcar scars with more of a rolling hills appearance, and they don’t look like punctures. Treatment includes a combination of micro fat injections and micro needling with platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
- Micro needling – As stated above, micro needling will produce new collagen by pricking the skin to create tiny wounds which are then replaced with new skin.
- Micro fat Injections – Also known as micro grafting, this procedure takes tiny amounts of fat from another part of the body and then injected into the face.
- At Home Solutions – Less invasive treatments at home include a mild chemical peel or a retinoid cream.
Acne can be a pain to deal with long after the pimples are gone, thankfully there are many options to help deal with the scarring, and lessen their appearance. Thank you to the website AEDIT.com for the research done on this. Always speak to a physician before any treatments. As always thanks for reading and comment below with any thoughts or questions.