There are few things more frustrating than getting rid of bad acne—and the embarrassment that sometimes goes with it—only to be left with visible acne scars. If you’re like many people with leftover scarring, the look of your skin may be a blow to your confidence. In fact, 56% of people with blemishes say they have a negative impact on their mental health.
Treating lasting scars may feel like an impossible task, but you don’t have to do it alone. Acne scar reduction can be a great way to minimize your scars or even make them look invisible —as long as you’re a good candidate.
How can you tell if your acne scars are right for treatment? Let’s take a quick look at what makes a good candidate for these procedures.
Though most acne clears away on its own, some patients find themselves with lingering reminders: lasting scars that refuse to fade. Severe flare-ups can form different types of acne scars, some of which may need professional help to treat:
Atrophic scars change the texture of your skin and cause pitting and shallow depressions. The depressions can form in different ways, creating different shapes, like squarish “boxcar scars,” narrow “ice pick scars,” or sloping “rolling scars.”
Though many types of acne can cause atrophic scars, you’re more likely to have them if you’ve been dealing with cystic acne. Unlike other types of acne scars, atrophic scars have no chance of fading on their own; in fact, they can worsen with time. If you want to reduce their appearance, you’ll need professional help.
There are two types of raised scars that are oftentimes confused by the general public: hypertrophic scars and keloid scars. Hypertrophic scars remain the size of the original acne flare-up and fade over the years, while keloid scars grow larger than the original flare-up and can continue growing over the years. Both can happen after acne lesions, although they rarely appear on the face. Hypertrophic scars are treatable with different modalities. For keloid, you will need to see specialists.
Scar tissues may appear redder, pinker, or shinier than normal skin tissues. They are also tighter than healthy skin tissue, as their collagen alignment is different from healthy skin.
PIH is not a scar, but many people mistakenly think it is, so we include it here. Just like the acne scars discussed above, you may find it after acne (and other wounds) fade. PIH forms on the skin after inflammation, leaving a discolored or dark patch of skin behind. It can linger for months or years, but it eventually fades away.
PIH is more likely to form if you have a darker skin tone, if you pick at your acne, or if your skin gets a lot of sun exposure. Chemical peels and quality home skincare can reduce the dark spots and help them fade away quicker.
Even though PIH is not a scar, some of the scar reduction options below can also help.
Not everyone is a good candidate for acne scar reduction. You’ll need to meet these requirements if you plan to get treatment:
Not everyone needs the treatments below. If you are comfortable in your own skin, there is no need for professional help. However, if you feel like you need to hide or filter your scars, or if you look at them in the mirrors wishing they weren’t there, stop and come get the treatment! Life is too short to waste on those.
As we’ve discussed above, acne reduction only treats hypertrophic and atrophic scarring, as well as scar tissues and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These types of scars can be hard to eliminate on your own, but a professional can help you find the right combination of treatments to minimize their appearance.
If you’re still experiencing active acne outbreaks, it can be hard for a specialist to treat existing scars. There should be no acne present at the time of your scheduled treatment.
Having your acne under control can not only make your treatment easier, but it can also help prevent new scars from forming over the treated skin after a bad breakout.
If you are struggling to control your acne, find a media spa. They can help you with that.
Acne scar reduction can help minimize the appearance of existing acne scars, but there are a few caveats.
Most treatments won’t offer instant results, as it can take time for visible scars to improve. Often, it takes weeks to months, and possibly years. In addition, while some people will get the results they need after a couple of treatments, others may need to return several times depending on the severity of their scars and the areas that need treating.
Though acne scar reduction can treat existing scars, it’s important to remember that these procedures don’t prevent scars from forming. Future acne outbreaks can cause additional scarring, which is why we often advise clients to have their acne under control before they start treatment for the scars.
If you do meet the criteria above, what treatments should you look for? Below, we’ll discuss some of the best scar reduction procedures to consider, but keep in mind that a specialist may recommend one or more of them at once to treat your unique acne scars.
Also called “dry tattooing,” skin needling is a CIT (collagen induction therapy). It’s perfect for treating acne scars, as specialists can target small scars directly by choosing the right needle configuration and technique. It can also improve hyperpigmentation. It stimulates your body’s collagen and elastin synthesis, which helps to improve the texture of the skin and elevate the bottom of pitted scars.
Microneedling uses surgical-strength microneedles to improve the texture and look of your skin. The procedure encourages new collagen and elastin production, and it can also promote skin cell regeneration. All of these can help your skin get back a smoother, more healthy glow. However, this works best if the scars are very shallow.
With this non-invasive treatment, non-UV, low-level light energy treats atrophic scars on your skin. This treatment is particularly beneficial for those with medical conditions, such as pregnancy, who are not candidates for needling. It is also a great treatment for active, inflamed acne.
Note that not all of the treatments above are suitable for all clients, and meeting with a professional can help you understand which procedures will work with any existing health conditions you have. Skin needling and microneedling, for example, are inadvisable for pregnant people, uncontrolled diabetics, and some patients with keloid scars. Be sure to mention any conditions, symptoms, and medications during your initial visit.
Knowing what makes you a good candidate for acne scar reduction can help you decide if these treatments are right for you. This simple list is a great place to start, but don’t forget that only a specialist can help you decide whether a scar reduction treatment will work for you.
During our consultations, we’ll take into account your skin’s texture, tone, and the severity of your scarring as well as your lifestyle and medical conditions to create a personalized treatment plan. We’d love to discuss your needs, answer any questions, and help you say hello to clear skin! To learn whether you’d be a good candidate for acne scar removal, reach out to us today.