A question that we hear a lot in the clinic has to do with acne scars: can we remove them? While the general answer is ‘yes we can help’, it’s important to realise that there are limitations on what can actually be achieved because there are several factors that can limit the degree of improvement possible.
Depth of scarring
While CO2 Laser Resurfacing can help scars up to a certain depth, scarring that goes deeper than the laser can safely reach can only be improved, not eliminated completely.
Amount of scarring
If you have only mild to moderate acne scarring, you can realistically expect to see an overall improvement of the scarring of around 30-50%.
Type of treatment used
There are a number of different treatments that we can use to remove or lessen the appearance of acne scarring:
- Dermal Fillers are very commonly used to fill out the so-called ‘valley’ shapes of acne scars.
- CO2 Laser Resurfacing is probably the most effective tool overall to reduce acne scars.
- Subcision with/without Dermal Filler can be very effective for selected types of acne scars.
- Surgical Excision of an acne scar that is unlikely to be improved by other methods will totally remove the acne scar but you must remember that it will always leave a surgical scar, so you need to seriously consider which type of scar you would prefer: the acne scar or the surgical scar!
- Skin Needling stimulates the production of the skin’s collagen framework under the scars with a series of tiny needle punctures.
- Microdermabrasion, although widely promoted by non-medical clinics, is a very superficial treatment that removes only the very top layer of dead skin cells and therefore cannot effectively reduce the depth of the acne scars.
Please note that a Chemical Peel, although a worthwhile option for other skin conditions, is generally not useful for acne scarring unless the scarring is very fine.
Are there any reasons that treatments might not be for me?
If you have been taking Roaccutane for acne, you must wait for 6-12 months after finishing it before having any resurfacing treatments.
If you are still experiencing acne then you should defer any acne scar treatment until all active acne has been eradicated and there are no more major outbreaks.
Want more information?
Find out more about Acne Scars and their Treatments.