Whether you’ve gotten over your acne phase or you’re still dealing with a zit here and there, acne scarring can be a blow to your self-confidence. Acne scars come in many forms and some of them are more challenging to treat than others. One thing that remains true for all acne scars, however, is the fact that at-home methods probably won’t be effective for reducing the appearance of scarring. That’s why, at Metro Dermatology in New York, we offer several acne scar treatments customized to your exact skin needs so you can feel happier about your appearance.
What Is the Best Acne Scar Treatment?
It’s tough to say which acne scar treatment is the best, simply for the fact that everyone has different skin needs. Some people may respond to laser treatments better than others, or the type of scarring they have can only be treated by a specific skin therapy. That said, there are many popular treatments available for you to choose from.
The treatment recommended for reducing your acne scarring will be determined by several factors during a consultation. For example, your skin tone and skin type may mean that you can’t use certain treatments. The type and severity of your acne scarring will also inform your skin expert about the type of treatment that is most appropriate. Some of the most popular options include:
For certain types of scars, many skin experts like to start with a conservative approach. Whether you need to treat active acne or not, it’s likely a first treatment option for you will be a prescription cream or ointment to address post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Lightening or brightening prescriptions work by encouraging more regular cellular turnover and lightening darker patches of skin so your skin tone will be even.
Prescriptions that lighten the tone of the skin are only appropriate for those who have certain complexions. This treatment will not treat shallow or textured scarring, but it will improve the tone of your skin over time. Sometimes, this treatment is combined with aesthetic treatments or basic acne treatment to control breakouts.
Laser and Light Treatments
By far the most popular treatments to address acne scarring are laser and light treatments. While light treatments are good options for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, laser treatments are designed to resurface the skin to effectively erase acne scars. Laser treatments for acne scarring can include PICO lasers, IPL lasers, and CO2 lasers.
The laser that is selected for your treatment will be determined by your skin type and the severity of your scarring. IPL treatments are generally good for shallower scarring, while both PICO and CO2 lasers provide deeper resurfacing that can address more severe scars. Both light and laser treatments work by increasing the amount of collagen and elastin in the skin to smooth the appearance of scars.
Several aesthetic treatments can be explored to treat minor or shallow scars, as well as pigmented scars. Facials, dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and microneedling are all good non-energy treatments that may be used by people who have sensitive skin or skin that is not qualified for laser treatments. Some treatments can even help control acne breakouts.
Finally, dermal fillers may be recommended for the treatment of very deep scars that haven’t responded to laser treatments or that need help to create collagen in a very localized area. Icepick acne scars are the most common scar that is treated with dermal fillers, particularly on areas such as the cheeks and the chin. Dermal fillers can essentially act as an artificial fill-in for gaps in the skin left by scarring, but the results will generally be temporary.
Can You Treat Scarring Even With Active Acne?
Sometimes you can start to treat acne scarring even if you still have active acne. However, the severity of your breakouts may determine which acne scar treatment you can safely use. Some treatments, such as prescription creams, can be combined with certain non-energy treatments (like chemical peels) to both manage acne and reduce the appearance of certain scarring.
That said, if you do have severe acne and your scarring is also quite severe, you will likely need to use a laser treatment for your scarring. However, many laser treatments can’t be used to treat active acne, so you will likely be recommended an acne treatment plan before you can start on any scarring treatments for your acne. When your skin is free of breakouts, you will have more scarring treatments to choose from.
What Should You Expect From Treatment?
During your consultation, a specific acne scar treatment or treatment plan will be recommended to address your scarring type and severity. Usually, treatments for acne scarring will take 30 to 60 minutes to complete based on the specific treatment being used. Laser treatments may take longer depending on the system being used.
You will likely need several consecutive treatments, usually spaced a month apart, to achieve optimal results. Whether you are using laser treatments or aesthetic treatments, multiple appointments are necessary to stimulate an adequate amount of collagen growth and cellular turnover. Many people will require three to six treatments for final results, or ongoing treatments for certain methods, such as dermal fillers.
Should You Prepare for Treatment?
Regardless of the specific treatment you are using, you will need to prepare your skin for treatment. Most acne scar treatments will prime the skin for photosensitivity, which means you will need to be careful to avoid circumstances that could create hyperpigmentation. In other words, about one to two weeks before any treatment, you should avoid sunlight and other skin-darkening activities (like self-tanners) that can trigger melanin production.
What Should You Do After Treatment?
Most treatments for acne scarring do not involve any downtime, so you won’t need to make significant changes to your routine. That said, almost all treatments for acne scarring recommend avoiding direct sun exposure one to two weeks after the treatment to avoid hyperpigmentation and other sun damage while your skin is vulnerable. Even prescription treatments have this recommendation.
It’s part of your best practice after your treatment to use SPF 30 or higher when you plan to be outside. It’s also a good idea to treat your skin gently in the week following your treatment, which means avoiding hot water, steam, chemical or manual exfoliants, and other activities that may cause skin irritation, such as swimming pools or outdoor sports. Keeping your skin moisturized after treatment is key.
When Will You See Results?
Most of the time, it will take several weeks or months to see results from your treatments. Rebuilding collagen and elastin in the skin is a process that can take two to four weeks, or sometimes longer for mature people who have less collagen in their skin. For topical treatments, it may take four to eight weeks to see any significant results, and even aesthetic treatments will require multiple appointments to produce final results.
That said, the severity of your scarring could determine how quickly you will be able to see the results of your treatment. People who have minor or shallow scarring may see results more quickly than people who have deep or severe scarring. The location of your scarring can also determine how many treatments will be required for your individual needs.
How Long Do Results Last?
Many treatments for acne scars can produce long-lasting results, such as laser treatments and certain aesthetic treatments. Dermal fillers may only last for one to two years. Of course, for the treatment of scars, the longevity of your results will be contingent on your ability to avoid further acne scarring. In other words, your results will last for as long as you can control acne breakouts and avoid new scars.
How Can You Maintain Results?
There are many ways you can maintain your results, such as sticking to an acne treatment that will prevent future breakouts that cause scarring. You can also maintain your results with annual appointments, particularly for laser treatments. By keeping the collagen production in your skin high, you can keep acne scars smooth for the foreseeable future.
Reduce Acne Scarring Today
Treating any type of scar is challenging, but acne scars present the unique challenge of treating scars that are caused by an active or chronic skin condition. During a consultation with one of our skin experts, we can devise a plan to address your active acne breakouts so you can start on acne scar treatments sooner. Please contact us at Metro Dermatology in Elmhurst, NY, Flushing, NY, Elmhurst, NY, or Englewood, NJ to schedule your consultation appointment today.