Removing Acne Scars, from Ice Pick Scars to Keloids
By Sarah Matthews | Published on April 29, 2009 | 0 Comments
Deep, pitted acne scars, particularly those on the face, can make even the most confident among us suffer a self-esteem crisis from time to time. Scarring of any kind can greatly impact an individual, and while acne scars can look “rugged” on some men – think Harrison Ford, Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood – most women usually hate them.
Acne usually begins with the onset of puberty, when we produce more sebum, the oily secretion made by our sebaceous glands, than our bodies can cope with gracefully. Prescription acne medications can often nip those pimples in the bud, but for some of us there is no escaping them – as well as the subsequent scarring.
Luckily, there are myriad treatments available on the market today that can either completely remove scars, or reduce their appearance significantly. Many dermatological procedures to reduce the appearance of acne scars can be carried out either by your dermatologist or at a med spa. Just make sure the person scraping, lasering or digging holes in your face is someone you trust!
Dermatological Acne Scar Removal Procedures
- Laser Therapy. Works by making keloid scars, where this an overgrowth of tissue, and hypertrophic scars, which look similar to keloids but are smaller, less visible. Also works well on atrophic scarring, or tiny pockets in the skin which can be a direct result of acne. The magic of the lasers is that they remove a scar’s outer skin layer, revealing a bottom layer that eventually heals and by doing so minimizes the visibility of the scar itself. The type of laser used will depend on the type of scarring you have. You may suffer redness for several months, but the upside is that in some cases, one treatment is all you need for permanent results.
- * Steroid Injections. Sometimes these are used in conjunction with lasers, jabbed directly into keloid scars, to make them flat and less visible. It is difficult, however, to raise depressions, or pockets, except by regenerating the skin. Steroid injections are usually the only way to treat keloid scarring that occurs from acne scars, as surgical removal of them is seldom instrumented.
- Dermabrasion. Thought to be the best method for acne scar removal, and is a more severe form of Microderm (see below). Instead of abrasive particles being used, your practitioner will use a brush (or fraise) to remove the skin. Superficial scars may disappear completely, deeper ones will be make less noticeable. Does not work for all types of scars, and people with darker skin might require additional treatment to sort out resultant pigmentation problems.
- Microdermabrasion. A technique in which the top, superficial layer of the skin is removed, both to stimulate the production of collagen (and encourage healing) and reveal softer, smoother skin underneath. Often called a “lunchtime peel” because Microderm can be carried out so quickly – in your lunch hour – the procedure works well in areas where acne scarring is not very deep. It can also be done in conjunction with chemical peels, as it will make the chemicals seep in easier.
- Collagen Injections. Injections of bovine-sourced or human collagen plump out the scars, making them instantly less noticeable. Advantage: works well. Disadvantage: may only last for three months; bovine collagen is not good for people with comprised immune systems; does not work on all types of scarring, such as ice pick scars, which leave a tiny hole which looks as if it has been made by an ice pick or other similar instrument.
- Chemical Peels. A variety of chemical peels are on offer that both plump up the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and scars, and also smooth and exfoliate to make skin look better – and reduce future occurrence of acne breakouts. Depending on the nature of your skin you can opt for a light, medium-strength or stronger peel. Just make sure you choose one that doesn’t exacerbate your skin even further!
- Surgery. Some types of scars, such as ice pick scars, can be removed by “punching” them down during surgery, then suturing the skin back together. Or try Z-Plasty, aka zigzagplasty, where a scar is repositioned to blend in better with your face – along the natural creases of the cheek, or elsewhere.
- Medical Tattooing. As scar tissue that is light-colored has no pigment, tattoos can infuse color to make them blend in better with the rest of your skin. Can also help scars to “relax” and re-pigment naturally. Finally, if you have only one tattoo in a not very noticeable area, ask your doctor if you can tattoo it with a pattern or design…
- Fat Transfer. Fat is taken from other parts of your body and injected into a scar to plump it out. Remember, the fat will eventually be absorbed into the body, so you will need to repeat this time and time again to keep up the look.
- Lotions and potions. Some people find that certain types of acne scarring reduction creams work wonders; others find they have no effect whatsoever. A lot will depend on the type of scar you have, as well as the severity of your scarring. It’s all a matter of trial-and-error…
Even the best surgeons cannot completely remodel a face so that it looks completely different – not unless you were willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars having countless operations. While surgery can help get rid of the worst acne scars, you will probably still have some pitting left if your face – or your neck or back – was deeply affected by acne as a teenager.
While it may sound cliched, learning to live with yourself is perhaps the easiest, as well as safest and cheapest, way to deal with physical imperfections of any kind. If that doesn’t work for you, remember that one of the Harley Davidson mantras is “chicks love scars”. Hopefully, you can also learn to love them – or at least love yourself with them!
The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate medical professional.
*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.