How Can I Treat My Acne Scars?

Dr. Cybele Fishman

Dermatologist Dr. Cybele Fishman with Advanced Dermatology PC explains this common challenge and offers tips on treatment options

Getting rid of acne scars can take time, and some fade but never go away completely or permanently. You’ll have the best chance for success by working with your doctor.”

— Dr. Cybele Fishman

NY, NY , UNITED STATES, May 12, 2022 / — For some, acne doesn’t totally vanish with adulthood: Many are left with unsightly souvenirs of their younger years known as acne scars. But various treatment approaches can help you can fade or even erase these embarrassing marks, according to Cybele Fishman, MD, of Advanced Dermatology P.C.

Pimples on the face, chest and back are extremely common, with 80% of people between 11 and 30 dealing with acne. But for 1 in 5 of these folks, acne scarring will develop in the months and years that follow. These unsightly patches often stubbornly persist, prompting their unhappy owners to seek over-the-counter or dermatological treatments.

“When blemishes become inflamed, sometimes the skin responds by trying to repair the skin with new collagen formation,” explains Dr. Fishman, also an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “But if too much collagen is produced, raised acne scars can form. Acne scars can also develop when there’s a loss of tissue, resulting in an indentation or ‘pit’ in the skin surface.”

Visit a dermatologist

Fortunately, not all acne scars are permanent. Some types of treatments can almost eliminate the scars, while others can help the skin heal itself with new collagen, says Dr. Fishman.

Ideally, you’ll see a dermatologist to examine your skin and assess whether your marks resulted from acne or another skin condition. A dermatologist can also determine how severe and what type of acne scarring you have, pointing toward a targeted treatment approach.

“Some acne scars can be covered with makeup and are barely noticeable, while others can be seen from far away,” she explains. “This information factors into the best treatment path.”

Treatment options

Before you invest money and time in treatments to treat scarring, you want to make sure your acne is under good control so you will not make new scars. Work with your dermatologist on a good acne regimen so that you have less chance of new scarring” – or something along those lines,” says Dr. Fishman says.

Once you’re working with clear skin, Dr. Fishman says a variety of over-the-counter remedies can be effective for some types of acne scarring. These include products containing alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acid, retinoids, and/or salicylic acid.

Cosmetic procedures are perhaps more intensive but can also be more effective for stubborn acne scarring, she says. These include:

• Microneedling: This technique is Dr. Fishman’s favorite acne scarring treatment. It can be quite effective, creating tiny “injuries” in the skin with special needles to trigger collagen growth and smoother skin. Microneedling can be done alone or with heat and can even prevent new acne from forming

• .Chemical peels: Special chemicals are applied to skin to remove top layers, promoting new, smoother skin growth.

• Microdermabrasion: A form of dermabrasion, this treatment uses a special machine to slough off the upper layer of the skin.

• Laser resurfacing: Laser heat is used to “wound” the collagen under acne scars and create new skin growth.

• Steroid injections: Injecting corticosteroids into acne scars can improve inflammation, leading to better skin appearance. This only works with hypertrophic or keloid scarring, not on boxcare or ice pick scars and if used incorrectly can make most acne scars worse.

• Skin fillers: Injections of collagen or fat can “plump up” the skin over scars, making them less noticeable. Repeat treatments are needed to maintain the effect.

• Minor surgery: Acne scars can be surgically cut from the skin, with stitches closing the wound.

• Subcision: This technique uses a needle to break apart fibrous bands of tissue that pull acne scars deeper into the skin, releasing them to lay more smoothly on the skin’s surface.

What treatments don’t work? Dr. Fishman says derma rolling and spa microneedling are popular but don’t go deep enough into skin to affect scar tissue in the deep dermis, where acne scarring forms.

Of course, the best treatment for any condition is always prevention. Try to avoid acne scarring by not picking, squeezing or scratching new pimples; treating acne quickly; and wearing sunblock.

“Talk to your dermatologist about all your options,” she says. “Getting rid of acne scars can take time, and some fade but never go away completely or permanently. You’ll have the best chance for success by working with your doctor.”

Cybele Fishman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. She is in practice at Advanced Dermatology PC at 111 Broadway, Suite 1000 NY NY 10006.

Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) is one of the leading dermatology centers in the nation, offering highly experienced physicians in the fields of cosmetic and laser dermatology as well as plastic surgery and state-of-the-art medical technologies.

Melissa Chefec
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