Sooner or later, almost everyone will have to deal with a pimple. For many, however, acne is a much more persistent and serious condition. And even when it clears up, it can leave stubborn scars behind.
Know that acne scarring is treatable. But all scarring shouldn’t be treated the same. The most effective treatment plan will take into consideration the type of scarring you have. And that starts with breaking down the scar into its different components.
Acne is caused by an inflammation on the skin, otherwise known as a pimple, which occurs when hair follicles are clogged with oil, hair, and dead skin cells. The inflammation can destroy the collagen in the area. That’s a big deal because collagen is what gives your skin its strength. When your body can’t produce enough of it to repair the damage caused by deep acne, a scar forms.
The severity of the scar is determined by evaluating its indentations, texture, and redness. A board-certified dermatologist may also diagnose it as a keloid, which is raised acne scarring. The following are some of the most effective treatments for each component.
Once a pimple heals, the area can become sunken if it’s lost some of its collagen and structure. Lasers create micro-injuries in the skin, which, basically, trigger the production of new collagen. So, it’s the best option for treating indentations.
But which type of laser will depend on your skin tone. Fraxel is recommended for those with light skin. For those with dark skin, dermatologists generally prefer to treat indentations with either microneedling or radiofrequency treatments that heat and tighten the underlying layers of the dermis.
Why the difference? The wrong type of laser—one that doesn’t push deep enough and ends up disturbing the melanin on the skin—could cause burns or hyperpigmentation.
Dermal fillers, like Bellafill, Sculptra, and Voluma, are also yielding positive results in the treatment of indented scars.
A combination of microneedling with platelet-rich plasma and lasers (eMatrix, specifically) works well on skin with uneven texture due to acne. eMatrix is safe for all skin types, and it can be used at a high radiofrequency without risking burning or hyperpigmentation.
Pulsed dye lasers, like the Vbeam, can reduce the appearance of pigmented scars. They work by delivering bursts of energy to dilated blood vessels, which effectively destroys the red pigment and allows the natural skin tone to return.
With a keloid, the collagen has kicked into overdrive and the scar keeps reforming. Generally, they respond well to steroid solutions, such as intralesional Kenalog, which shrink the scar tissue.