By: Tony Edwards for Scars1
If you are an adult or teenager who has acne breakouts, you’re not alone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, millions of Americans have acne at this moment and we spend more than $100 million a year on nonprescription acne treatments.
Despite all this effort and trips to the drug store for cleansers, foams, pore masks, and the like, millions of people will unfortunately develop scars from their acne.
The best way to prevent scars is to prevent acne. Wash your face to remove built up oils and dead skin that may contribute to acne formation.
Don’t squeeze or pick at your pimples. Squeezing them forces infected material deeper into your skin and may cause inflammation or scarring.
Acne has to be under control before any scar treatment can be undertaken. Talk with your physician/dermatologist about your skin care routine and pointers on clearing up your skin.
There are two types of scars that result from acne: scars caused by increased tissue formation, known as keloids or hypertrophic scars and those caused by tissue loss. The scars caused by tissue loss are more common than keloids. There are five different categories of these scars: ice-pick, depressed fibrotic, soft scars, atrophic macules, and follicular macular atrophy scars.
Scars that result from acne are treatable by numerous methods, including collagen injection, chemical peels, dermabrasion or laser abrasion. It is important to remember that the condition must be under control before any type of scar removal can be performed.
Collagen is injected under the skin to fill in certain types of scars. Chemical peels are solutions applied to the skin of the face, neck, or hands. The skin will blister and then peel off, leaving the skin below the blister smoother. Dermabrasion is the process whereby a dermatologist or skin surgeon freezes an area of the skin, then uses a special instrument to plane the skin, similar to the process of using sandpaper to smooth a rough wooden object.
The fourth treatment option is abrasion using a laser. Done by a dermatologist or a skin surgeon, this process has been successful in millions of patients. To perform this treatment, physicians use light to literally resurface the skin.
At the recent American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting in San Francisco, numerous studies were presented on using lasers for the treatment of acne scars. The studies examined different types of lasers used to treat the scars, compared laser treatment to non-laser treatment, and even considered the use of certain types of lasers to clear acne and reduce the amount of oil produced by the face.
In one study, physicians from Detroit studied 15 patients, 12 of whom were African-American, all with acne scars. The patients had five monthly treatments with a 1550-nm fractional laser. All patients saw noticeable reduction in their scarring. In another study, dermatologists from Brazil used a different kind of 1550-nm fractional laser on 20 patients with moderate scars. These scars came from acne and after surgery on their breasts, abdomen and forehead. After four to five treatments, spaced two to four weeks apart, patients’ scarring was reduced by as much as 50 percent.
A third study, from South Korea, compared treatment with a laser with treatment using a chemical peel, trichloroacetic acid. Physicians treated one side of a patient’s face with the laser, one side with the peel. Twenty patients participated in this study. The doctors found that the patients responded well to both treatments and there were few side effects.
If you are dealing with scars from acne, talk to your doctor about what type of treatment might be best for you. The location, severity and age of your scars will help determine the best course of treatment. To learn more about different scar treatments, visit the Education Center