Having acne scars as an adult can be a painful reminder of acne in your youth. So how to get rid of acne scars as an adult? Luckily for many people enduring hyperpigmentation and depressed acne scarring, there are many acne scar treatments available. At Metro Dermatology in New York, we know that finding the right treatment for you can be the key to unlocking smooth, healthy-looking skin.
Can You Get Rid of Acne Scars as an Adult?
Yes, it’s possible to get rid of acne scars as an adult. In fact, for many people, acne scars may not even be visible until their 20s, including those who had severe acne as teenagers. Acne scars can develop at any point in life and in response to most types of acne.
The severity of your scarring may be determined by your genetics, the type of acne you had, and factors such as sun exposure. Learning how to get rid of acne scars is all about finding the right treatment for you. But it’s also important to understand why acne scars happen and whether or not they can go away by themselves.
Do Scars Look Worse With Age?
Some types of acne scars do look worse with age. Depending on the location of the scar, acne scars can appear more severe as you grow older because of collagen depletion in the skin. Depressed acne scars or atrophic acne scarring will usually look worse as your skin loses natural volume as part of the natural aging process. This means the scars of your youth will look worse as you enter your 30s and 40s. This is why many treatments will focus on increasing collagen in the skin to smooth the appearance of scars.
Can Scars Go Away By Themselves?
There are some types of acne scars that may be able to go away by themselves over time. Scars that can fade include hyperpigmentation scarring, which can leave dark spots on the skin after acne has healed. However, not all scars will fade. Factors such as your skin tone, sun exposure, and skin type will all determine whether or not acne scarring can go away by itself.
Why Do Acne Scars Happen?
So, why do acne scars happen? Generally speaking, acne scarring happens when collagen formation in the skin is dysfunctional or inadequate when acne inflammation is still present. When the skin is inflamed by an acne infection, such as an active pimple, it prompts the body’s natural healing response to produce higher levels of collagen and elastin fibers to encourage skin healing.
However, when collagen is produced in the skin while the skin is still inflamed, it can lead to improper skin healing. This is particularly true for depressed acne scars, which can break the wall of the infected follicle and can lead to collagen forming incorrectly around the broken follicle wall.
Pigmented scars are also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and may be the most common form of acne scarring. Pigmented scars are generally superficial, which means that they are only a few layers of skin deep. These scars are characterized by darker patches on the skin and may fade somewhat over time. However, some pigmented scars may last for several years because of unprotected sun exposure which can cause the scars to darken.
Textural scars are the most challenging type of scars to treat and can include scars such as boxcar scars, ice pick scars, and rolling scars. Keloid scars can also be difficult to treat because they are raised and require collagen to be broken down to heal. Treating a textural or atrophic scar will generally require advanced treatments from a dermatologist who will select the treatment that is most ideal for your scarring type and your skin type.
How to Get Rid of Acne Scars
So, how can you get rid of acne scars? For the most part, when you are learning how to get rid of acne scars, you will want to seek advice from a dermatologist who knows to select the correct acne scar treatment for you. Some of the most common methods to reduce the appearance of acne scarring can include chemical peels, microneedling, topical medications, laser treatments, and good skincare.
Chemical peels are non-invasive facial treatments that exfoliate the first several layers of the skin to reduce the appearance of shallow scarring. A chemical peel is usually most appropriate for hyperpigmentation scars, but it can also be used to treat rolling scars and boxcar scars. Chemical peels usually use TCA or AHAs to slough away the affected layers of skin and promote healthier-looking skin.
Chemical peel treatments can be done regularly such as once a month, or they can be done a few times a year based on the strength of the peel. Chemical peels are appropriate for most skin tones and skin types and can be a good way to maintain the health and appearance of your skin.
Over the last few years, microneedling has emerged as one of the premier skin care treatments in the world. Microneedling treatments can be used to reduce the appearance of both pigmented and textural acne scarring. This treatment works by using sterile 2 mm long needles to repeatedly pierce affected skin, which then prompts the skin’s natural healing ability and increases collagen production.
Microneedling can be done once a month for several months to drastically improve the appearance of acne scarring. You can maintain these results with annual treatments once or twice a year.
For pigmented scarring, one of the most effective treatments to reduce hyperpigmentation is to use topical medications. Skin brightening ointments and retinol are both frontline options to improve the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Using a topical medication to reduce your visible acne scarring may be combined with other types of treatments for acne scars. Some strong retinoids may also be able to reduce the appearance of shallow textural scars, particularly on the cheeks.
Laser treatments are by far one of the most effective treatments to improve the appearance of both textural and pigmented scars. Laser treatments essentially exfoliate several layers of the skin at one time, while also inducing collagen production on a deep subdermal level. Laser treatments can be customized to your skin type and skin tone, which makes them compatible with most people.
Because laser treatments will produce gradual results, usually you’ll need at least three to six treatments to see any significant improvements in the appearance of your acne scarring. Maintaining your results can be done once a year for most people. Some laser treatments are effective enough to permanently reduce the appearance of shallow scarring on the skin.
Good Skin Care
Some people even have acne as adults, which means it’s possible to form new acne scars. By taking good care of your skin and preventing acne breakouts, you can also prevent scarring as an adult. When you are learning how to get rid of acne as an adult, it’s important to focus on the overall health of your skin. You will want to work with a dermatologist to identify skincare products and prescription medications that will help you control acne breakouts and restore skin health.
The key to good skincare when you have acne is to use products consistently, so be sure to select products that you can easily work into your lifestyle. And because many acne skincare products can cause photosensitivity, it’s important to wear SPF when you plan to be outside to protect against hyperpigmentation.
Who Are Good Candidates?
The best candidates for acne scar treatment are those who have visible scarring on the face that has not gone away within the last six to 12 months. If you have used over-the-counter scar reduction products without much success, then you may need the help of a dermatologist to identify advanced treatments that can improve the appearance of your scars.
Adults who are seeking acne scar treatment are common and can include anyone who has generally healthy skin. Some treatments may have medical restrictions, such as laser treatments not being able to be used by pregnant women.
How To Get Rid of Acne Scars? Acne Scar Treatments
If you want to learn how to get rid of acne scars, then you will need to learn about the treatment options that are available to you. Some of these treatments can include chemical peels, microneedling, laser treatments, and topical medications. Contact Metro Dermatology in New York to discuss your acne scar treatment options during your initial consultation.