Home Health Acne How to Get Rid of Acne Scars

How to Get Rid of Acne Scars

The best treatments to get rid of acne scars include laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, chemical peels and other therapies. Acne scars are difficult to treat with natural home remedies and may persist after the acne heals. Consult a dermatologist for the best treatment to remove acne scars.

Last Modified: August 4, 2022
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Do Acne Scars Go Away?

Acne scars, an unfortunate and common result of acne, typically won’t disappear on their own. A dermatologist can help treat scars to help heal skin and minimize their appearance.

Unlike dark patches called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which can fade without treatment over time and consistent sun avoidance, acne scars usually remain even if the acne fades.

Treatments to Get Rid of Acne Scars

Dermatologists usually complete acne treatment if there are still active breakouts before beginning treatment for acne scars. This often includes ways to minimize further scarring.

Typical acne treatment methods include:
  • Laser resurfacing
  • Dermabrasion
  • Fractional laser therapy
  • Subcutaneous incisions
  • Steroid injections
  • Skin tightening
  • Chemical peels
  • Cryosurgery
  • Microneedling

Scars are assessed for their severity, which determines treatment options. Dermatologists also consider the location of the acne scars and depth of the scars.

Type of scars also makes a difference in determining treatment. Two types of acne scars can affect your skin:

  • Atrophic acne: Which will present as sunken or hole-like depressions on the skin
  • Hypertrophic acne: Will appear as swellings on the skin during the acne healing process

Inflammation and damage to healthy cells causes atrophic acne scars. Your body can overproduce collagen tissue during healing, leading to hypertrophic acne scarring. Scars persist until you remove the damaged cells and collagen.

Laser Resurfacing

Dermatologists use a laser to remove the acne-damaged skin layers and then tighten the middle layer to smooth the skin. Two types of laser resurfacing treatments available are ablative and nonablative.

Pros
  • Improves skin appearance and texture
  • Tightens the skin, encouraging collagen production
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
Cons
  • Adversely affects people with dark skin
  • Risk of bacterial infection

Ablative resurfacing heats the top layer of the skin to remove scars while the nonablative procedure removes affected underlying tissues without treating the top layer. The procedure takes about an hour, and you’ll heal in three to 10 days after treatment.

Dermabrasion

Dermatologists use an electrical device with a rotating wire brush to scrape (abrade) the top skin layer, removing scarred tissue. As the skin heals from resurfacing dermabrasion, it becomes smoother and fresher.

Pros
  • Useful for removal of delicate skin tissue
  • Effectively removes deep skin acne scars
Cons
  • Long healing process
  • Risky for people with the Herpes simplex virus as it can lead to complications during the healing process

The procedure takes a few minutes to an hour, depending on the scar’s severity. The healing process takes 10 days to three weeks.

Fractional Laser Therapy

This is like laser resurfacing, except that it uses carbon dioxide laser systems and treats scars at a deeper level, focusing only on the affected region.

Pros
  • Quick recovery period
  • Causes less damage and swelling (edema)
  • Encourages up to 50% wound renewal process
Cons
  • Excessive treatment can cause complications such as infections and scarring, especially around the eyelids.

For optimal results, you’ll need six to eight treatments spread over four to six weeks. One session takes 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the surface area that needs treatment. Recovery takes about two weeks after the last treatment.

Subcutaneous Incisions

With subcutaneous incisions, a probe separates the scar from the skin tissue below it, allowing the skin to rise and occupy the affected area.

Pros
  • Permanent removal of acne scars
  • High success rate compared to other forms of treatment.
  • Safe, simple and inexpensive
Cons
  • Associated with a lot of pain and swelling
  • Skin discoloration can occur

Dermatologists perform the treatment three to six times over about a one-month period. Recovery takes seven to 14 days.

Steroid Injections

You will receive an injection of a drug called intralesional into the raised scar tissue. The steroids soften the fibrous tissue inside them to remove scars.

Pros
  • Fast-acting causing scar shrinkage within 24 to 72 hours after injection
  • Reduces swelling and redness within a few days
Cons
  • Can cause tissue thinning (atrophy)
  • Can result in hypopigmentation

The procedure usually takes place in a dermatologist’s office after a scar has healed. It takes about 15 minutes and usually does not require anesthesia. Gently massaging the scar after the procedure can help further break up scar tissue and increase the injection’s impact.

Skin Tightening

Skin tightening involves a specific radiofrequency to remove ice pick scars that acne left in skin. This newer procedure for addressing scars can help level skin.

Pros
  • Safe and effective
  • Helps reduce face wrinkles
Cons
  • Can cause skin redness and soreness
  • Risk of skin burns

Most people need about six treatments and will see results within a month. Some people may have to wait two to eight months to see significant results.

Chemical Peels

Dermatologists apply chemical agents that act as exfoliants and cause skin cleansing. The peel destroys and removes the affected skin layers, resulting in the regeneration of healthy skin tissue.

Pros
  • Done at different depths
  • Treats wrinkles and skin discoloration
  • Can combine it with other treatment methods
Cons
  • Risky for pregnant mothers
  • Can cause skin crusts and hyperpigmentation

Doctors conduct the procedure on various portions of your face, with each portion taking about 15 minutes to perform. An entire face procedure takes about 90 minutes, and the healing process usually takes a week to two months.

Cryosurgery

With cryotherapy, doctors pump nitrogen into your skin, freezing scar tissue, which later falls off. This has become a common procedure for treating acne scars.

Pros
  • Can remove cancerous tissue
  • Removes age spots and skin tags
Cons
  • Rare cases where it took 12 months for sensation to return in the treated area

The procedure is usually painless and takes less than three minutes, but the session lasts 15 to 30 minutes. Recovery takes seven to 10 days.

Microneedling

Doctors prick your skin with tiny needles to stimulate collagen formation. Microwounds result and trigger skin regeneration.

Pros
  • Simple and inexpensive
  • Minor risks of skin discoloration
Cons
  • Causes inflammation and redness
  • Can result in acne formation

The treatment takes 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the size of the area that needs treatment. Healing takes less than three months.

Protecting Skin from Further Damage

To help deal with long-term acne scarring, you must protect your skin from further damage. Always wear sunscreen when outdoors. While it might not protect against scarring, sunscreen will shield your skin from absorbing the harmful ultraviolet rays that cause skin burns and cancers. It will also help your pigmentation long-term.

Also, maintain a healthy skin care regimen through proper moisturizing, daily gentle cleaning and eating a balanced diet.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
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