Acne is a troublesome and rather embarrassing clinical condition that is commonly seen in adolescence, though even older individuals can suffer from this. In some cases, acne resolves completely without leaving a mark on the skin, but in some cases, it can leave rather unsightly scars that can have an impact on one’s self confidence.
Scars are not just seen on the face; acne can also affect the back and leave multiple scars on there as well.
Removal of acne scars is a frequently sought treatment by patients suffering from acne, and in this article, we shall look at some of the ways that acne scars may be removed.
Procedures to remove acne scars
There are number of different clinical treatments that are now available to clear acne scars. Below are discussed a few of the commonly practiced ones.
Dermabrasion is a commonly performed procedure to remove acne scars. However, this procedure is not just limited to this condition, and is used for many others.
The principle is simple – the dermabrasion device rotates at a high speed, and when it comes in contact with the skin, it gently removes the surface layer of the skin, causing a small amount of bleeding. This stimulates the growth of new cells over this area, thus covering up the scar with healthy skin cells. The procedure is performed by experienced dermatologists, and different thickness of skin may be removed depending on how thick the scar is.
The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic, though sometimes cryogenic sprays may be used to freeze the skin first. Following the application of the dermabrasion brush or burr, the skin is given time to heal, and the scar is treated effectively.
Micro-dermabrasion refers to the same procedure, but only the more superficial layers of the skin are removed.
2. Dermal filler treatments
Dermal fillers are becoming more and more popular these days, as treatments are quick and relatively cheaper than advanced plastic surgery. Acne can result in ‘pitting’ of the skin – a condition where there are indentations in the skin giving it an irregular appearance. Dermal fillers consist of hyaluronic acid, a natural component of collagen in the skin. By injecting these dermal fillers under the skin, these indented scars can be elevated giving the skin a smoother, more natural look.
Other than collagen, fat is also injected sometimes under the skin to act as a filler.
Dermal filler treatments produce fairly decent results, and procedures are performed by plastic surgeons or healthcare professionals qualified to inject dermal fillers such as dermatologists.
3. Laser resurfacing treatments
Laser treatments act by destroying the skin cells on the surface of the acne scar, allowing for the growth of new cells and healing of the rash. The lasers used for deeper scars are a lot more intense, and tend to cause more skin damage. Using low intensity laser can be less effective, so the right dose must be given in order to produce the right amount of change and subsequent healing. The commonly used lasers are carbon dioxide (CO2) and Erbium:YAG (Er:YAG) lasers. Following the procedure, the skin must be cared for so that healing occurs well.
4. Exfoliation creams
These are readily available in local drug stores and supermarkets, and claim to help reduce acne scars. However, these can, if anything, help manage small acne scars but not larger, more long standing ones. Treatments take a long time to show any effect, which can be fairly unnoticeable for quite a while.
5. Chemical peels
This is a form of treatment where a chemical is applied to the skin that removes the superficial layer of the acne scar. It is more effective for more superficial scars and less effective for deeper scars. Once the top layer of skin is removed, an opportunity is created for new skin cells to form, thus helping cover up the scar completely.
6. Punched skin graft
A punched skin graft refers to a procedure where a small piece of skin is ‘punched out’ and implanted into the required area as a skin graft. In the case of deep acne scars, the entire scar along with its deep tissues are removed, and a punched skin graft is implanted, which ultimately takes and becomes a part of the area where it is implanted. Results can be good.
Another similar procedure is called punched excision. Here a acne scar is punched out using a special device, and the skin margins are sutured close.
Cryotherapy is a clinical procedure where the affected area of the skin is flash frozen using liquid nitrogen, which instantly kills the skin cells. These skin cells then die and eventually fall off.
8. Subcutaneous incisions
Subcutaneous incisions are small incisions that are made in the acne scar that release the fibrous bands within the scar, allowing for fresh tissue to form and heal, thus clearing up the scar. The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia, and a needle is passed in between the outer dermis of the skin and inner subcutaneous tissue.
The fibres are broken down, and new skin grows at the site. Patients may notice a slight amount of bruising which disappears after a few days.
Which are the best treatments?
Well, as you can see there are many different treatments available, and in most cases a combination of treatment may be required. Some state that surface micro-dermabrasion combined with carbon dioxide laser is the best treatment as micro-dermabrasion will treat the surface of the scar, while the laser will treat deeper tissues. Others advocate the use of dermabrasion with filler treatment. It is worthwhile discussing all options to see which treatments best suit you as a patient.
Acne scar removal treatment is being sought after more and more these days. With different treatments available, it is best to discuss options available and decide which treatment is best for you.
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