Laser Treatment for Acne Scars
Laser therapy is often described as the most effective way to eliminate acne scars. This treatment uses concentrated light beams on the surface of the skin. It breaks up old scar tissue, allowing new and rejuvenated skin cells below the surface to regenerate. Skin looks fresher, healthier, and much clearer, with a far reduced appearance of scars.
Lasers are equipped with dual healing modalities: light and heat. Both help to remove the top layer of skin and give a more refined complexion. Heat also draws blood flow to the face, which helps minimize inflammation, reduce the red color of scars, and provide a smoother overall feel.
How It Works
True lasers are characterized by their narrow beam of light. When applied to the face, this therapy “tricks” the skin to enter a healing mode.
How does this happen? The goal of the laser is to target water molecules contained within the skin’s layer of collagen.
Once heated, these molecules induce collagen production to repair what is believed to be damaged skin cells. This is the healing process we talked about, the one that promotes cell turnover to reduce and/or eliminate scars.
Is It Safe for All Skin Types?
Because laser therapy is non-toxic, it can be used on almost all skin types and colors. The one exception to this is skin that’s still experiencing severe acne breakouts.
During treatment, we can adjust for different skin types by using specific settings on the laser. We’ll also factor in your skin color. For example, patients with olive complexions will require different settings to ensure their skin reacts appropriately.
Benefits of Laser
One of the greatest benefits of laser is the precise control it offers during treatment. We can target the light toward very specific areas, ensuring that healthy, scar-free tissue is not damaged. This precision means we can also amply treat those areas that are affected.
Earlier, we discussed the process by which laser works. But it’s important to circle back to collagen production, which is stimulated by laser therapy. Collagen is a naturally-occurring protein responsible for the skin’s plump and youthful appearance. An increase in collagen will not only help to eliminate scars, but also restore a healthy, youthful glow to your skin.
While many products and treatments promise to reverse the signs of scarring, they often take time to show results, if they work at all. But laser therapy begins to work immediately.
You’ll continue to see results for three to five days after treatment as your skin continues to heal and recover. Once you’ve finished recovering, your complexion will be much clearer without needing to wait months or even weeks before the first signs of improvement make themselves known.
Large Treatment Areas
We tend to think of scars as happening only to the face. While it’s true this area is particularly vulnerable, acne can afflict many parts of the body. Outbreaks can occur on the upper arms, shoulders, back, and chest, meaning scarring can also happen here.
Laser treatment allows us to efficiently target almost any area of the skin. This is ideal if you have large or deep scars on places besides your face.
Many treatments are designed to penetrate the skin’s top layer. Healing isn’t promoted below the surface, which is why so many over-the-counter creams and serums don’t work as expected.
The heat and light of lasers, on the other hand, penetrate much deeper. This is how the therapy stimulates crucial blood flow and collagen production; the result is a permanent improvement in your skin’s appearance and texture.
Because laser treatment is non-invasive, the healing time is minimal. This is beneficial for people who don’t want to take time off from work or skip their daily routines for several weeks. It will be important to properly care for your skin after treatment, but we’ll provide you with guidelines and instructions.
What to Expect
We will schedule you for a consultation prior to your therapy. This allows us to get to know you and understand your current and previous medical conditions. We’ll also review the area you want treated, note specific characteristics of your scarring, and identify your skin type.
Your consultation is an important time to speak openly and honestly. Let us know of any vitamins, supplements, and medications you take. Ask questions. Finally, tell us exactly what you expect from treatment. This open dialogue helps ensure you get the results you want.
It’s important that you protect your skin from damaging UV rays before and after treatment. If you have a sunburn or tan at the time of your therapy, we may not be able to treat you. Likewise, once your treatment is finished, you’ll need to protect your skin to avoid another burn and additional scarring.
If you need to incorporate some lifestyle changes prior to treatment, we’ll let you know. For instance, it’s best to quit smoking because cigarettes can impede the body’s natural ability to heal. This is crucial because laser treatment depends on a recovery process to reduce the appearance of scars.
You may also be advised to stop taking supplements and medications that can reduce blood clotting, such as aspirin. Some skin care products, such as those containing retinoids, may need to be shelved. Finally, we’ll discuss your skincare routine to ensure you use products that are most beneficial for your skin needs.
Laser Versus Other Treatments
Laser is often compared to microneedling as a treatment for scars. Microneedling is another non-invasive therapy that uses tiny needle pricks to stimulate the body’s healing process. While this is a very beneficial treatment, the results may only be temporary.
Laser treatment provides a permanent solution. Depending on the area you want to be treated, and the severity of your scars, you may need three or four treatments. We can discuss this further during your consultation.
Patients also ask about the differences between laser therapy and chemical peels. The latter work, at best, to a medium depth in the skin. They are ideal for minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. Some are also designed to treat acne and/or sunspots. But because of the nature of peels, they don’t pose any real benefit for scarring.
Lasers work at a deeper cellular level and are highly effective in reducing the appearance of scars. This option can also help minimize skin redness, another issue that peels don’t address.
Fillers have been heralded as a safe therapy for scars. With this treatment, collagen or another substance is injected into the treatment area to give skin a plumper appearance. While it can improve some types of scarring, it’s not ideal for icepick scars. In addition, most fillers are temporary, yielding results that last less than 18 months.
What Is Acne?
Acne is characterized as a disorder that any person, at any age, can get. We tend to think of this as a problem endured only by teenagers, but the truth is it can continue well into middle-age. This makes acne difficult to treat, and it can be even more difficult to prevent scarring.
Signs of acne include pimples and blackheads caused by clogged hair follicles. Bacteria, oil, and even dead skin cells can all lead to the appearance of acne.
The Healing Process
Acne scars are a result of the body’s efforts to heal this condition. Once the tissue is destroyed by acne, the body steps in and tries to replace it. Scarring results when the body produces too much or too little of the tissue needed.
The Personal Effects
We know the consequences of dealing first with acne and then stubborn scars. You feel your appearance doesn’t reflect the best you, and a lack of confidence may mean you start spending more time at home. That’s your safe place where you can hide your face from the world.
Your appearance is about more than the reflection in the mirror. It plays into your sense of self, and acne scars are associated with a lower sense of self-worth and even feelings of embarrassment.
Not all acne scars are created equally. Depending on the type of breakouts you’ve suffered, and how your skin has responded, you may have several types of scarring or just one. To gain a deeper understanding of what we’re dealing with, we’ve provided a list of different acne scars below.
Although not a scar in the technical sense, hyperpigmentation is characterized by dark spots in the skin. It happens when the body tries to heal inflammation caused by acne. We’ve included it in our list because it’s part of acne’s aftermath and can be treated with laser therapy, just as more traditional scars can be.
Similar to hyperpigmentation, keloids develop as the body responds to inflammation. They’re identified by their raised, bumpy spots of pink or red.
These look like tiny, tiny holes in the skin and are the result of collagen loss. They often occur on the cheeks or along the jawline in response to cystic acne, caused by hormonal imbalances.
These scars give the skin a wavy appearance. It may look like you have shallow indentations across your jawline and over your cheeks. Because they are shallow, these scars tend to be less prominent if you stretch a portion of your skin.
Unfortunately, rolling scars gain prominence as you age. This is because collagen production naturally decreases, which leaves the skin looser and less elastic than in youth.
These are similar to rolling scars in that they appear as round compressions in the skin. The edges of these scars, however, are rigid, rather than soft, and can be felt when you run your hands over your face. For comparison, they are larger than icepick scars and typically come as a result of inflammatory acne.
Many patients think their scars are permanent, and without the proper treatment, they usually are. It’s rare for scars to dissipate on their own, especially when developed in adulthood. This is why finding a solution is so important: to restore your confidence and give you relief from the toll acne can take on your emotional health.
Laser treatment can be an effective tool in battling acne scars. It triggers the body’s natural healing processes, so you can be sure it yields quick, safe, and effective results. You’ll enjoy a smoother, creamier complexion without the downtime of more invasive procedures. Call the experts at Metro Dermatology in Elmhurst, NY, today and learn how this treatment can help you look and feel your best.