What are Acne Scars?
Acne doesn't always leave scars, but it can sometimes cause permanent marks on your skin. Sometimes there will just be a slightly discolouration, which should fade as the skin heals. However, you can also be left with more severe scarring that changes the texture of the skin.
The three main types of acne scar are:
- Boxcar scars: round pits or craters in the skin
- Ice pick scars: deeper holes in the skin that look like puncture marks
- Rolling scars: bands of thickened scar tissue that look like ripples under the skin
You are more likely to be left with scars if you have severe acne with deep spots such as cysts and nodules. You will also be at risk of scarring if you scratch, pop or pick at your spots as this can damage the skin and increase the chances of infection.
Acne scars are usually permanent, so it is important to see a dermatologist if you are developing them. Acne treatment can prevent scarring by stopping more spots from forming. However, these kinds of medication won't help with any existing scars. If you want to get rid of them then you will need to try a different approach once your acne is under control.
Should You Have Treatment for Your Acne Scars?
Acne scars are permanent, although some may become less visible over time. The scars aren't harmful, so there is no medical need to have them treated, but that doesn't mean that you have to put up with them. Scars can have a big impact on your confidence, self-esteem and mood. They can also be an unhappy reminder of your experiences with acne. If you aren't bothered by your acne scars, then there is no need to seek treatment for them. However, if you feel self-conscious, depressed or dissatisfied with your appearance then it is worth seeing a dermatologist to find out if treatment could help.
Treatments for Acne Scars
Various treatments are available that can lessen the appearance of acne scars. Different approaches can be used to tackle different types of acne scars. For example, if you only have mild scarring then it may be possible to improve the texture of your skin with dermabrasion. Deeper scars may need to be surgically removed so that the skin can heal more smoothly.
One of the most popular treatments for acne scars is laser therapy. Lasers can be used to treat mild to moderate scarring in several different ways:
- Ablative laser treatment will remove a small patch of skin around the scar. When the skin grows back, it should look smoother. This treatment can be used on deeper scars, although it isn't as effective on severe scars as surgical excision.
- Non-ablative laser treatment doesn't remove any skin, but it can improve the appearance of acne scars by stimulating collagen production. This will help with the natural healing and regeneration process, which should improve the appearance of your skin.
- Fractionated laser resurfacing is another type of non-ablative laser treatment that can be used to break down the material that is causing discolouration. It can help the scar to return to the same colour as the surrounding skin.
Both types of laser treatment can reduce the appearance of acne scars, but the effects will depend on the type of scars that you have and on which approach is used to treat them.
How Long Will the Effects Last?
One of the most common questions about laser treatment for acne scars is whether the results will be permanent. If you're paying for private treatment to get rid of your scars, then you will want to be sure that the effects will last as long as possible.
- Ablative laser treatments should produce permanent results, but the effects of the treatment will depend on the severity of the scarring and how well your skin heals. Additional treatment is rarely needed for this type of laser therapy, but the scar can sometimes re-appear.
- Laser resurfacing (non-ablative treatment) can produce permanent results, especially when the scarring is mild. It can take some time for the full effects of the treatment to become apparent as collagen is produced, but once these are visible they will usually be long lasting. In some cases, further treatment sessions may be needed in the future.
- Laser treatment can help with some kinds of pigmentation changes caused by acne. The effects should last for a long time, but they aren't always permanent. The discolouration can sometimes return after many months. This is the least permanent type of laser treatment, although it can have long lasting effects for many people.
It usually takes multiple sessions to complete the laser treatment. You may need to wait weeks or months to see the full effects of the treatment. Since you are committing a substantial amount of time to the treatment, you will want to know beforehand how long the effects will last.
Your skin can actually look worse for a while if you are having laser re- surfacing or ablative treatment. The surface of the skin can look red and swollen while it is healing. However, once the treatments are complete and your skin has healed, the effects should be lasting.
If you're considering laser treatment for acne scars then it's important to get personalised advice from an experienced dermatologist. The effects of the treatment can depend on many different factors, including the type and severity of scars that you have, and your skin's natural healing abilities. How well the treatment works and how long the effects will last can therefore depend on you. Your doctor will be able to give you a better idea of what to expect after examining your skin.
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