Roughly 80% of people between 11 and 30 will get acne. Of those who suffer from acne, about 1 in 5 will develop scars. Acne scars can be very stubborn, so there is no one treatment that’s perfect for everyone. Instead, a combination of treatments or approaches is usually implemented to help remove acne scars.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is a common skin condition, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. The inflammatory skin condition causes spots and pimples, particularly on the face, back, shoulders, and arms. A range of factors are thought to contribute to acne, but hormonal factors appear to play the biggest role. Other factors that could trigger acne include:
- Emotional stress
- Greasy cosmetics
If one of your blood relatives has struggled with acne scarring all their life, there is a high chance that you might too. At the same time, the risk of acne scarring increases with age as the skin loses collagen. Collagen plays a vital role in the skin healing process; the skin produces new collagen to help repair itself following a breakout. If you’ve reached a point where the amount of collagen produced is insufficient, it can result in scarring.
As mentioned earlier, acne is generally an inflammatory condition. As a result, scar development depends to a great extent on the duration of the skin inflammation. That means that delaying acne treatment increases the risk of developing acne scars. Since scarring is a complication of acne, anyone with a breakout may develop temporary or permanent scars. However, acne scarring is more common in individuals who suffer from inflammatory acne, usually characterised by numerous pimples and cysts.
What Are The Different Types of Acne Scars?
In general, acne scars fall into two categories: atrophic and hypertrophic scars. Atrophic scarring is caused by a loss of tissue. Hypertrophic scars are caused by an excess of tissue. Within these categories, you have four types of acne scars:
- Ice pick – deep, narrow scars
- Boxcar – oval or round depressions with steep vertical sides
- Rolling – wave-like depressions on the skin
- Keloid scars – raised, firm scars above the skin’s surface
Acne scars are permanent, and although they can become less visible over time, you often need professional help to remove them.
With acne scarring, the severity often depends on the depth of the lesion. When the rupture happens pretty close to the surface of the skin, it usually heals well by itself. But when the rupture takes place deep in the skin, the infected area can up damaging the dermis and healthy skin tissue. When you have deep outbreaks that take a while to heal, it typically means that the scarring may be worse.
How Long Does it Take for Acne Scars to Fade?
Anyone who has experienced acne will know how frustrating the condition feels. Acne can be distressing and really impact your self-esteem. Although acne can clear up, some people end up with acne scars.
Some acne scars may fade over time. But it really depends on the type of scarring you have. When acne scars are like dark spots, they may fade over time on their own. When you have deeper tissue scarring, you may need various acne treatments to reduce the appearance of scarring.
Acne Scars Treatment: How to Get Rid of Acne Scars
Depending on the type of acne scar you have, there may be a different approach to help tackle it. Although acne scars aren’t medically serious, they can significantly impact your confidence and self-esteem. There are effective, safe and minimally invasive treatments for acne scars. Popular treatment options may include lasers, chemical peels, surgery, fillers and microdermabrasion. However, before you embark on your acne treatment journey, there are a few factors you need to consider:
- The type of acne scars
- Size and location of the scars
- Scarring severity
- Your age
- General health
- The probability of the acne returning
- Underlying chronic skin conditions
- Previous scar treatments
- Downtime and cost
Below are some of the popular acne scar treatments:
Subcision is a minor surgical procedure to treat depressed scarring. Surgical scar revision reduces and minimises the look of scarring. How your surgeon approaches your acne scar treatment will depend on your individual case.
The treatment involves releasing an acne scar bound to the deeper tissues or muscles so it’s free to move again. The technique uses a needle or surgical probe on deeper scars to bring them to the surface to make their removal easy through other methods like chemical peels, laser and microneedling. You may have minor bruising for a week or two after subcision.
Microneedling for Acne Scars
Microneedling can improve skin and help target certain conditions like acne. During a microneedling session, your surgeon uses SkinPen Precision to create tiny holes within the skin. This helps to boost skin and promote collagen production. The increase in collagen production can help to smooth out scars. You will likely need between 3 and 6 treatments to target acne scarring.
Investing in skincare products that specifically target your skin type and concerns is useful in developing a regular skincare routine. Therapeutic solutions with powerful ingredients can help treat a range of conditions, including acne, sun damage, and hyper-pigmentation.
Chemical Peel for Acne Scars
Chemical peels vary significantly in strength with different ingredients to help target and treat specific skin concerns. Peels include potent ingredients that can help to promote acne scarring healing, stimulate collagen production, and encourage new cell growth. Chemical peels are suitable for those looking to boost the appearance of the skin and can help to improve the look of acne scars.
LED Light Therapy
LED light therapy uses blue light, red light, and near-infrared light to target the skin, promote healing, and boost complexion. Light therapy for acne can help to reduce the visibility of scarring. Light therapy has anti-inflammatory effects and promotes healing. Blue light therapy is also a good option for acne as it targets acne-causing bacteria at its root. LED light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that requires no downtime.
Dermal fillers can help to improve the appearance of acne scarring by lifting depressed scars. A small amount of filler is injected under the skin to lift the scar and improve the appearance. This acne treatment approach is usually best for rolling and atrophic scars. You can expect the results to last up to 18 months.
This procedure is usually reserved for severe scarring; the doctor removes the top layer of the skin with a rapidly rotating brush or a similar device. The procedure can completely remove surface scars and make the deeper ones less noticeable. Side effects may include scarring and temporary or permanent skin colour change.
Laser resurfacing is a popular treatment for acne scars once treated with dermabrasion. The technique is effective but has increased risks and side effects for people with darker tones and those with a history of keloids.
Injecting steroids in areas where raised scars appear can, in the long run, help improve their appearance and that of the surrounding skin.
Wearing sunscreen whenever you go out may not necessarily remove acne scars but may help improve their appearance. Sun exposure usually darkens existing scars making them more noticeable.
Acne Scar Treatments: Preventing Future Acne Outbreaks
Controlling your acne is key to preventing future acne scars. It’s no secret that acne scars can be notoriously difficult to get rid of. Acne prevention is the first step in reducing future acne scars. An acne prevention system that’s unique to your skin type and acne is key.
When you do have an outbreak, try to avoid picking at the skin. Although it’s temping to squeeze or pop pimples, try to resist the temptation. If you squeeze and pick the pimple, it can result in more damage and potentially worsen the inflammation you have. Picking can result in an increase in recovery time and may boost the chances of scarring developing.
The same advice also applies to healing scars. As your skin scabs over, avoid picking up the scabs. A scab is your skin’s response to a wound and is a natural part of the healing cycle. If you pick off the scab before it’s finishes healing, it can extend the healing time, and again, increase your chances of scarring.
The best acne treatment depends on the type of acne scars you have. You may find that you need a combination of treatments to target acne scarring. If you’re considering treatment for acne scars, then the Harley Clinic in London can guide you on your journey.