If you suffer from acne scarring, you’re not alone. Acne affects approximately 50 million Americans and, regardless of age, is often embarrassing, and scarring can only worsen the issue.
Not all acne scars are the same, however, and there is no single, one-size-fits-all treatment. The dermatology experts at Tucson’s Pima Dermatology, led by our team of board-certified dermatologists, understand how acne scarring can impact your life. That’s why you can find a variety of cutting-edge options that can be tailored to treat even the most severe acne scarring and boost your self-esteem.
Effective Acne Scarring Treatment Options
At Pima Dermatology, you’ll find a range of effective acne scar treatments that can be tailored to meet the needs of your skin and help achieve your aesthetic goals.
Topical antibiotics and retinoids like Retin-A® can be very effective for reducing uneven texture and pigmentation.
A surgical rotating brush removes the top layer of skin for dramatically smoother, more refreshed-looking skin. Results are long-lasting with minimal side effects (redness, soreness, swelling).
Surgical Scar Excision
A surgical procedure in which the scars are gently cut out and then stitched with sutures to heal.
This acne scar treatment utilizes radiofrequency (RF) energy delivered through microneedles to gently heat the skin and smooth out rough texture. Learn more about micro needling.
Laser therapy gently treats acne scarring with concentrated beams of light that do not damage the surrounding tissue. A laser skin resurfacing procedure rejuvenates your appearance by removing the scarred surface and stimulating collagen production. A skin toning procedure improves skin quality and tone.
The acne specialists at Pima Dermatology offer the following laser and light energy devices to treat acne scarring:
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Laser
- Erbium: YAG Laser
- Gentle: YAG
- Pulsed Dye Laser
- QuadraLASE Carbon Dioxide Laser
- Sciton ProFractional
- Sciton® Halo
- SmartXide DOT Laser
- Smoothbeam Laser
- StarLux Fractional Resurfacing Erbium Laser
- Vbeam Pulse Dye Laser
In general, laser therapy does not incur much pain or downtime. You may experience temporary mild swelling, soreness, itching/stinging, and skin discoloration for 3-5 days.
But the results can be dramatic – smoother, clearer, more refreshed skin that practically glows.
What is Acne Scarring?
Acne can form in a variety of types:
- Pimples or pustules
Color or pigment changes from acne are often mistakenly called scars, but they may simply be changes in color to the skin once the acne lesion has healed.
Acne scarring is actually a permanent change in the texture of the skin and occurs when collagen is damaged as a result of inflammation.
Scarring can result from any type of acne, but cysts and nodules cause the most damage because they leave deeper depressions in the skin. Picking at acne can also make scarring worse.
More problematic is that these more deeply rooted types usually don’t heal properly without treatment, which leads to flawed, scarred skin.
As a result, you should contact an acne specialist at Pima Dermatology as quickly as possible for the best solution to your acne issues.
What Are the Types of Acne Scars?
In general, acne scarring takes the following forms:
Hypertrophic scarring – raised, lumpy scars common to the back and chest
Atrophic scarring – pitted, round skin depressions with smooth borders
Icepick scars – deep, pitted skin indentations with steep edges
The effect of acne and acne scarring varies depending on your skin type. For example, if you have light skin, nodules and cysts are more common and lesions more noticeable, yet lingering post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (red spots) disappear more readily once the lesion disappears. If you are of Latin/Hispanic descent, pimples and cysts are more common and there’s a higher occurrence of post-inflammatory pigmentation and scarring, which doesn’t fade easily or quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How does laser resurfacing work to improve acne scars?
A. This technique works by creating a controlled abrasion of the skin, relying on the skin’s natural healing capacity to heal the treated area in a smooth manner. Like a superficial scrape on the knee often heals without a trace, facial skin is very rich in normal healing elements, allowing for an excellent healing response. Pima Dermatology uses a combination of laser techniques to sculpt and re-contour the shoulders of the scars, utilizing the CO2 and/or Erbium Lasers to obtain the best result. By smoothing the raised contours of the scars, stimulating a tightening and remodeling of the skin’s collagen, a more even skin texture is achieved.
Q. How much improvement can I expect from a single laser resurfacing treatment?
A. While our goal is to achieve an optimal result with a single procedure, this is usually not obtainable. Most patients will see an improvement in the depth and severity of scars and overall skin texture. This is a reasonable expectation with a single treatment. The amount of improvement can be enhanced with excisions to deep scars prior to, or at the time of, the procedure. A second treatment is often advised after about one year to obtain an even better result.
The final result is related to the type and amount of lesions present and the patient’s ability to heal. As with any surgical procedure, it is not possible to accurately predict or guarantee the quality of results. And, in some instances, improvements may be minimal. There is no surgical procedure which can remove all skin defects.
Q. Is laser skin resurfacing treatment painful?
A. We treat patients in our outpatient surgical facility under sedation and local anesthesia according to patient preference. While the procedure is not totally painless, our staff will go to great lengths to keep you comfortable throughout the procedure and during the entire healing phase.
Q. How long does the skin take to heal after the treatment?
A. Most patients heal within 7-14 days. Healing is related to the patient’s innate healing response (longer for a smoker), dressing used after the procedure, post-care compliancy, and the depth of treatment necessary to remove the scars. There can be persistent redness which lasts for weeks and in rare instances, 6 months or more. Most patients will be able to return to work within 10-14 days. The return to normal daily activities and use of skin care products (including makeup), will be determined by your provider.
Q. What are the risks of the procedure?
A. Like any surgical procedure, there are certain risks and side effects of treatment. The most common risk is a change of color or pigment in the skin after the procedure. Darker pigment is usually temporary and is treated with skin lightening creams. Lighter pigment is possible after deeper treatments, especially with the CO2 Laser. We may recommend additional treatments to alleviate changes in pigmentation. Antibiotics and antivirals are prescribed at the time of the pre-op visit, one week prior to the procedure.
Q. Does insurance cover acne scar revision?
Acne scar revision by laser treatment is not a covered benefit. These treatments are usually considered cosmetic or not medically necessary. Therefore, the responsibility for payment is with the individual. Costs of treatment are discussed as part of your consultation.
Don’t Suffer from Acne Scarring – Contact Pima Dermatology
If you have acne scarring, don’t let it disrupt your life and affect your self-esteem. Pima Dermatology provides a variety of safe, effective solutions that can be customized to fit your budget and unique needs. To schedule a consultation for the best solution for you, contact our dermatology office in Tucson today.
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