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Acne Scars 101

Aug 25, 2021

Acne breakouts can be frustrating. Worse, if the breakouts are deep enough, they can leave scars. Fortunately, scars can be treated. To find the right way to treat them, though, you’ll need to clear up any existing acne and determine exactly what kind of acne scars you have.

  • Depressed scars are also known as atrophic. These are the most common acne scars on the face, sitting below the surrounding skin. These scars occur when there’s not enough collagen while the wound is healing. There are three types:
    • Boxcar: Wide and U-shaped, with sharp edges, these scars can be shallow or deep. Shallow scars typically respond well to skin resurfacing treatments.
    • Ice Pick: Narrow, V-shaped scars that look like small round or oval holes, these can go deep into the skin, making them difficult to treat.
    • Rolling: These wide depressions usually have an irregular, rolling appearance and rounded edges.
  • Hypertrophic is another term for raised scars. Most common on the chest and back, these scars protrude from the skin’s surface because of too much collagen during the healing process.
  • A dark spot or discoloration is not actually a scar. Whether it’s purple, red, or brown, it will fade over time on its own.

If you have acne scars, see a dermatologist to determine whether in-home or in-office treatment will be best for you. In-home treatments include alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) or salicylic acid to exfoliate your skin, lactic acids to improve the skin’s texture, appearance, and pigmentation, or retinoids, to help scars. In addition, always wear sunscreen to protect your scars from becoming darker or more noticeable.

If at-home treatments aren’t effective, your dermatologist may recommend an in-office procedure. There are several different procedures that can help, including:

  • Dermabrasion: In this treatment, which is very effective for scars, skin is exfoliated using a wire brush or wheel. This works best on shallow scars but can make deeper scars less noticeable.
  • Chemical Peels: A strong acid is used to remove the top layer of skin, reducing deeper scars.
  • Laser Resurfacing: This treatment also removes the top layer of skin but heals more quickly than dermabrasion and chemical peels. It must be covered with a bandage until completely healed and works best on lighter skin tones.
  • Fillers: Collagen or commercial fillers can be injected under the skin’s surface to fill in depressed scars.
  • Microneedling: A small, needle-studded roller or pen is used to create small punctures in the skin. As the skin heals, it will produce collagen and reduce the depth of the acne scars.
  • Injections: Different medications can be injected to soften and flatten raised scars.
  • Subcision: This is a minor surgery in which the scar is lifted to make it less noticeable.

When you need expert advice and help caring for your skin, contact Arlington Dermatology. For over 40 years, our Board-Certified dermatologists have been serving patients, making the health and welfare of our patients our top priority. We offer innovative treatment methods using state-of-the-art medical equipment in our conveniently located, patient-friendly facility in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Contact us or call 847-392-5440.