The infection and inflammation associated with acne can permanently damage the skin and underlying tissue, leaving behind acne scars. While the most important thing is to take immediate action to control your acne and prevent further damage, there is hope for people who have from acne scars. The best choice of acen scar treatment depends on the type of scarring. Minor damage can be repaired with relatively mild topical treatments. Repairing moderate to severe acne scars may require surgical treatments. In this section you can find answers about how acne scars form, an overview of the many types of acne scars, and links types of treatments available for acne scars.
What Causes Acne Scars?
Acne Scars result from damage to the skin and the underlying tissue. Acne scars are primarily caused by moderate moderate to severe acne inflammatory acne (Acne Types: 3-4).
In the area within and around an inflammatory acne lesion (pimple, nodule or cyst), white blood cells release enzymes that damage the surrounding tissue. This process can cause permanent damage to the underlying collagen matrix that supports the skin. Large areas of damage may not be properly repaired and damaged tissue is instead replaced by fibrous scar tissue, leading to permanent acne scars. For a more detailed discussion about how acne scars form, continue reading here.
There are many types of acne scars. The development of acne scars depends on the severity, location and duration of an acne lesion, along with other factors, such as the genetics of the affected person.
Ice pick scars are deep narrow scars that look like little holes in the skin. Boxcar scars are larger depressions in the skin. Rolling scars result from scar-induced collagen remodeling that gives the skin a rolling, uneven appearance. Hypertrophic and Keloid scars are raised, often discolored, areas that are usually composed of scar tissue. Rough or mottled patches with uneven pigmentation or constantly dry/rough/papery skin are a common result of persistent acne infection. Hyper pigmentation, which manifests as darkened, freckle-like spots are also common. Permanently red spots are called erythema and result from damaged capilaries near the skin surface. For a more detailed discussion about the many types of acne scars form, continue reading here.
Topical Pharmaceutical and Over The Counter (OTC) Treatments are excellent options for mild to moderate acne scars, and many types of abnormal pigmentation. Topical retinoids have been shown to stimulate cell turnover at the skin surface and the growth of new tissue and collagen in the dermis. Topical hydroquinone can inhibit the production of melanin, helping to gradually lighten dark spots. OTC and Spa-type exfoliating treatments can help relieve minor uneven and rough skin tone. Glycolic acid, azelaic acid, alpha hydroxy acid and others are available as part of OTC and prescription chemical peels. For more information about Topical Acne Scar Treatments, continue reading here.
Light and Laser Treatments are excellent options for all types of acne scars, from mild to severe. Red light therapy can be helpful in accelerating healing and collagen production. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is very effective at improving the appearance of many types of abnormal pigmentation. Laser-based therapies are quickly becoming the dominant technology in cosmetic dermatology. Laser systems can be used for both ablative (invasive) and non-ablative (non-invasive) skin resurfacing. Specialized laser treatments are available for the treatment of irregular pigmentation, erythema (permanent redness) and a wide range of scar types. Because the wavelength (color) and intensity of a laser determines the depth that it penetrates the skin and what kinds of molecules it excites, laser therapy is a highly flexible and functional tool. In this section we overview many of the available laser technologies and their applications. For a more detailed discussion about the many light and laser-based treatments for acne scars, continue reading here.
Clinical/Surgical Treatments are generally the most effective approach for repairing the damage associated with moderate to severe acne scars. There are many different types of surgical approaches that are used in acne scar treatment. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are frequently used to treat moderate cases of acne scarring. Surgical approaches (subcision, punch excision, fillers, etc) are generally the most effective treatments for severe acne scars. Clinical microdermabrasion is a technique that superficially abrades the skin with a high-pressure flow of crystals. For a more detailed discussion about the many clinical/surgical treatments for acne scars, continue reading here.