At Metro Dermatology in Elmhurst, Flushing, and Bronx, NY, and Englewood, NJ, we understand the unique nature of each person’s skin. That’s why we also recognize acne scar treatment cannot be approached from a one-size-fits-all perspective. Instead, we consider each patient individually and craft specific, results-oriented treatment plans. Thanks to this careful process, scar removal is possible.
How Do You Get Rid of Acne Scars?
The good news is we offer multiple solutions for acne scar removal. Depending on the severity, acne breakouts can affect the top as well as the underlying layers of skin. It’s after pimples have resolved, while the skin is trying to heal itself, that scar tissues can develop. These are often the effects of severe inflammation, delayed onset of treatment, and/or external factors like picking.
After thoroughly reviewing your concerns, we will choose the acne scar treatment best suited to your skin tone and type. The most important step is identifying the scar type you have: atrophic, hypertrophic, or ice pick, each of which has a different size, shape, and contour. Atrophic scars are shallow with smooth borders and a pit. Hypertrophic scars may appear lumpy or thick, while ice picks have sharp edges and deep pits.
Understanding the Difference Between Scars and Marks
Many patients believe they have acne scars when in fact they have superficial acne marks. Scars permanently affect your appearance if not treated and are most notably defined by depressions or indentations in the skin. They can be pigmented, appearing darker or redder than the rest of your skin, but don’t have to be. Marks, on the other hand, are red or brown in color and eventually resolve themselves.
You can easily determine if you have acne marks or scars by running your fingers over your face. Marks are smooth and flat and hard to detect by touch. This means if you feel textural changes, you likely have scars.
Acne Scar Treatment Options
Lasers continue to be commonly used for resurfacing skin and smoothing away scars. The fractional CO2 laser, for instance, remains among the safest and most effective scar removal treatments. It targets specific areas – those impacted by scarring – without damaging surrounding tissues. This makes for a faster recovery process and also ensures smooth, consistent results across your face.
The CO2 laser is ideally suited for moderate to severe scar removal. By using a gas mixture comprised of roughly 20% carbon dioxide, this treatment generates a concentrated laser beam absorbed by water in the skin’s cells. The beam’s heat destroys those cells damaged by scarring, allowing new, healthy tissues to grow in their place.
All the Benefits
Typically, we apply treatment to scars as well as small portions of surrounding tissues to ensure skin looks blended and natural. Depending on the severity of your scars, two to six sessions may be necessary, although most patients see significant improvements within a week of their first treatment.
Results then continue to develop in the coming weeks and months. On average, the CO2 laser reduces between 50 and 70% of acne scars to deliver a smoother and softer appearance.
Recognized for its long-lasting results, Thermage relies on radiofrequency (RF) technology to tighten and contour skin. By heating the skin’s underlying layers, it induces the body’s regenerative response – collagen production. This creates an opportunity for the skin to heal itself from within, building new collagen that lifts and supports your facial framework and reshaping existing collagen for a healthy, glowing appearance.
Ramping up collagen is usually the single most important factor in rejuvenating your appearance, a fact especially true for correcting scars. While adequate levels of collagen keep your skin looking plush and youthful, too much can cause the dips and pits that often remain in the skin after acne.
New Structures for a Renewed Appearance
The problem arises when inflammation caused by acne forces skin to stretch to accommodate the irritation. Once the blemish is gone, collagen rushes to create new support structures for your skin. But these new structures don’t visibly match the old structures, creating the appearance of scarring.
Thermage encourages the body to produce new proteins that take the place of the old. In short, it repairs the overcorrections made by the skin to truly heal scars. Results can be seen in just one to three days after your session and last for years. Meanwhile, improvements will continue increasing for the next several months.
Pico lasers are widely known for reducing pigmentation and eliminating tattoos, but they’re also ideal for acne scar treatment. One of the pico lasers we use in our office is PICOCARE from WonTech, noted for its superior engineering and clinical performance. Its 450 ps pulse duration and 1.33 GW peak power can effectively treat a variety of scars and are even safe for darker skin types.
The novel fractional handpiece allows for various spot treatments ranging in size from 3 to 10 mm – meaning we can adjust the setting based on your particular concerns. For acne scar treatment, we commonly use a range between 3 and 4 mm. Benefits of pico lasers include:
- Fewer sessions
- Little to no downtime
- Clinically proven results
- Targets only the concern to be removed
- Delivers quick visible results
- Protects surrounding healthy tissues
Intense Pulsed Light Treatments
Although commonly characterized as a laser, intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments work differently. Lasers deliver energy in a concentrated beam, while during an IPL photofacial light of numerous wavelengths is emitted in short pulses. IPL photofacials therefore impact the skin in unique ways.
Essentially, the multiple wavelengths from IPL allow for a larger number of skin cells to be targeted. Treatment is more impactful and can address multiple concerns at once, including:
- Scars that are both pitted and discolored
- Active breakouts
What to Expect
Treatment sessions are relatively short and usually last less than an hour. Whether you visit our main office in Elmhurst or one of our locations in Flushing, NY, Bronx, NY, or Englewood, NJ, you can expect a similar process: we use a handheld device to direct light to the targeted area. Treatment is non-invasive and allows you to immediately resume your daily routine once completed.
IPL is effective for most patients and, in addition to reducing the visibility of scarring, can also improve skin’s tone and texture. It can additionally reduce the severity and duration of current breakouts to prevent future scar tissue formation.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is versatile enough to enjoy a variety of medical uses, from arthritis relief to hair growth. It’s especially exciting as a facial treatment because, in addition to acne scar removal, it can brighten your appearance to restore a luminescent glow.
PRP contains growth factors that help the skin heal; those growth factors promote collagen and elastin regeneration for healthier tissues overall. As for acne scars, PRP jumpstarts cell regeneration to remodel tissues. Over time, damaged skin cells get replaced with those that are silky smooth. For the broadest results possible, you can use PRP as a stand-alone treatment or pair it with another therapy.
A Substantially Different Treatment
The entire process is simple: we draw a blood sample from your arm, place it into a centrifuge to isolate the platelets, and then inject it into facial tissues for targeted scar improvement. One of the key differences with PRP Is that it uses your own blood for an inherently safe, non-invasive treatment. And unlike other cosmetic therapies that only provide temporary results, PRP stimulates new tissue growth for continued improvements.
Why Some Acne Scars
You might be wondering why you have acne scars but your friend, who has suffered similar breakouts, doesn’t. The best explanation comes down to genetics, especially in people with skin of color. Keloids, for instance, are more common in Black, Brown, and Asian populations. But regardless of skin color, if your parents or siblings have struggled with acne scar removal or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, chances are you will as well.
Different Types of Acne
We should also point out that some pimples leave behind scars and others don’t, as you likely know. This is owed to inflammation, which must be present in significant quantity to leave a scar. When skin becomes inflamed, extra blood cells respond by moving into the area. As explained earlier, these cells ignite specific wound-healing enzymes that produce collagen; when collagen functions normally, you won’t see a scar.
But sometimes, collagen-inhibiting enzymes interfere with routine healing processes. This is especially true of cystic acne, which tends to be pustular in nature because it’s infected. Comedonal acne, comprised primarily of blackheads and whiteheads, is less likely to scar but will do so if you persistently pick at it. The lesson here, then, is to keep your face a hands-free zone.
A Solution for Your Skin
Regardless of skin type, breakouts suffered in the past, or current scars, we have an acne scar treatment that can help you. From lasers to PRP, different options can accommodate different needs. But it’s up to you to take the first step. Schedule your consultation today by calling Metro Dermatology in Elmhurst, Flushing, and Bronx, NY, and Englewood, NJ.