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If you suffer from acne, then you know that the only thing worse than a new breakout is acne scarring. Acne is a heartbreaking, difficult skin problem because it often strikes twice in this way! Acne scarring is such a permanent, psychologically damaging condition that many people seek treatments such as Accutane to prevent it.
If you didn’t seek treatment for your acne or if you suffer from severe acne, then chances are you have acne scarring that concerns you. We are here to tell you that you don’t have to suffer forever with acne scars! There are treatments available that can help and dramatically improve the appearance of your scars, but you need to be thoroughly evaluated and discuss which treatment options are right for you before you dive right in.
Not all acne scars are the same, and neither are all acne scarring treatments. Some target the color or pigmentation of scars while others are better suited to improve the texture of your scarring. This page will talk about treatments that help the texture changes that can happen after acne.
The medical definition of atrophic is “wasted away”. When an acne lesion forms, it is essentially a bundle of inflammation in the skin. This inflammation damages the part of your skin that gives it its firmness and elasticity and it hardens or “wastes away” in response. This produces a change in the texture of your skin that makes it look bumpy and uneven. This is what we call atrophic acne scarring.
There is often a redness that comes along with this type of acne scarring, but we would refer to that as pigmented acne scarring. Although both types happen together, the treatments we use to help each are very different.
The term “textured acne scarring” is often used interchangeably with atrophic acne scarring. There are many types of these scars: pitted scars, raised scars, boxcar scars (scooped-out, box-shaped), cliff edges, keloids, and rolling scars are all types of textured acne scarring. Pictures of these types of scars can help you understand their names better.
All these scars are just specific ways to talk about the main underlying problem: unsmooth skin. These scars can’t be covered with make-up and are hard to hide if they’re on your face. There is good news! Laser treatments can help with this type of acne scarring!
In the laser world, we separate lasers into two, different categories: non-ablative and ablative. Non-ablative lasers are ones that don’t remove any tissue or skin. These lasers are also called “non-invasive” or “no downtime”. While they cause visible changes in the skin, it is left fully intact after treatment, so you can go about your life immediately after. With ablative lasers, skin is removed. We can control the aggressiveness of ablative laser treatment (remove more or less skin) depending on your skin type, problem and available downtime. However, ablative lasers are considered invasive treatments because you will need time away from school, work, and activities for your skin to heal. Both types of lasers work, but the trade-off for the downtime with ablative lasers is that they can produce more dramatic results.
Generally, as a rule, we will treat mild to moderately textured acne scarring with one or more of our non-ablative lasers. These treatments are safe no matter what skin type (color) you have. They work by using thermal or heat energy to trigger changes in the deeper layer of skin called the dermis. The heat stimulates your skin to make more collagen, helping it look firmer and smoother. Another name for this process is collagen remodeling. Again, the outer layer or epidermis is left intact, so you don’t have any downtime after this type of laser resurfacing treatment. This treatment takes about 30 minutes in the office.
If you have more severe, deeper acne scarring or if you just want to see the most dramatic improvement in the shortest amount of time, then we will suggest ablative laser resurfacing. Again, this type of treatment removes part of your epidermis while also damaging your dermis forcing collagen remodeling. It is much more aggressive and you will definitely need to schedule a time to recover. These types of treatments can take varying amounts of time to perform in the office and they are not for every skin type (color). Beware of anyone who offers you this type of laser treatment if you have a darker skin type.
We understand the pain and difficulty of having acne scars. Our goal is to provide you with the safest, most effective laser treatment plan for your skin type, budget and schedule. This is why we take extra time to discuss and fully evaluate your skin and goals before we ever suggest a treatment for you. We want to under-promise and over-deliver your results!
Absolutely! As we mentioned before, pigmented acne scars (dark or red) often go hand-in-hand with textured acne scars, but they require a different type of laser treatment. And to add to that, red scars require different lasers than darker, brown (or hyperpigmented) scars. Again, it is so important for you to have a full evaluation and skin exam to determine which treatment(s) are right for you – it is a very individualized, custom process. What worked for your friend may not work for you or worse yet, may not be safe for you!
It is important to discuss that pigmented acne scars sometimes do go away on their own. This typically depends on your specific skin type (color) and the severity of your acne. In some cases, the color change fades within a few days after the pimple clears; in other cases, it can take years to go away or be permanent. Either way, there are treatments that can speed up the process if you want.
We would love to sit down with you and talk about the ways that Celibre Medical can help your acne scarring. We have friendly, well-trained laser practitioners that are passionate about helping people just like you deal with this painful and frustrating problem. Don’t wait any longer! Give us a call today to set up your free consultation!