Treatment Options for Acne Scars

Acne is a very popular skin condition that affects up to 80% of people sometime in their life. Many people recover from acne without any scarring, but there are a few people that are left with scars on their skin. After an acne outbreak has healed, there is usually a red or hyper pigmented mark left on the skin, but this is not a scar. This will go away within the year and if no more lesions are produced in that area, the skin will heal normally. Acne scars usually form when a person has had many outbreaks and has suffered with acne for quite some while. Acne scars are also caused by people picking their lesions and their scabs. If they pick at the skin, the skin is constantly aggravated resulting in scarring of the skin. If you suffer from acne scars there are a couple of treatments available, but your skin must be clean of any active acne outbreaks before any of the procedures can be done.

Also, there are different kinds of acne scars. The first is called “icepick” scars. These scars are usually narrow and extend deeply into the skin. They look they a person was punctured with an icepick. The second type of scar is boxcar. A boxcar scar is round or oval and have sharp edges. Boxcar scars can either be shallow or deep. The third type of acne scar is rolling. A rolling are caused by tethering of normal appearing skin, resulting in the skin looking like it is rolling. Now, let’s go over the type of treatments.

Dermabrasion
Dermabrasion is the process of “sanding” the skin away. A doctor does this to get rid of the top layers of skin to slough off the scar tissue. This procedure is only used for shallow scars and imperfections and could not be used on “icepick” scars. The approximate cost of the procedure is $1500 and more than one procedure is usually required. For a few days after treatment your skin will look like it has been scraped and then a scab will form. After the scab has fallen off, the skin will be red for a couple more weeks and then will return to normal color.

Laser Resurfacing
Laser resurfacing involves the use of a laser to remove skin so that new skin can grow in it’s place. This is a fairly new procedure but some doctors claim that this procedure is quite successful as they are able to have better accuracy with the laser to remove the scarring. There are two different tyopes of lasers available, the CO2 and the erbium. Laser resurfacing is also only used on shallow scars. A procedure will cost you around $300 and more than one time may be neccessary. After treatment, the skin will most likely be swelled up and red and you will be provided with an ointment to apply to the skin. The skin will have a red appearance to it for several weeks and will slowly fade back to normal color.

Chemical Peels.
Chemical peels consist of applying different acids to the skin to remove the top layer of skin so that a smoother layer can appear. Chemical peels are only used on minor acne scars. The procedure only takes approximately fifteen minutes and they are often repeated for optimum results. Chemical peels cost approximately $750 and usually must be repeated. After treatment, some redness and swelling may be seen. Also some flaking and drying of the skin is common.

Punch Techniques.
There are a couple of different punch techniques. The first is punch replacement. This is were the scar is removed with a punch , much like hair transplants, and then replaced with a skin graft. This is usually the best technique to remove deep scars. The second technique is punch excision. This consist of removing the scar and closing up the wound and letting it heal on it’s own. The last technique is punch elevation. This is were the scar is cut loose, but not removed and then it is put back with the level of the normal skin. Punch techniques may take up to several weeks to heal. Punch techniques cost approximately $50.

Subcision.
Subcision is were the scar is detached from the underlying deeper tissue. A blood clot develops under the surface and helps to even out the skin by pooling into the scar area. Usually 1-3 treatments are needed for this to be successful. Bruising and swelling occur after treatment. This treatment can be used on all types of scars. You can get costs of the procedure by calling your doctor as there is a wide range.

Augmentation.
Augmentation involves injecting fat or collagen into the scar so that is becomes level with the surface of the skin. Collagen injections are temporary and only last about six months. This treatment is best for the deeper acne scars. Collagen can cost anywhere from $300-$700 per treatment. There is no recovery time after the procedure.

Saline Injections.
Saline is injected into the scar which causes more collagen to grow and fill into the scar. Four to five sessions a couple weeks apart are needed for this to work. Saline injections are most successful at shallow scars and rolling scars. The cost is approximately $100 per session. Recovery is relatively quick on this treatment.

As you can see there are quite a few options for the treatment of acne scars, but even with all these options, not all scars are to be removed completely. There still may be some residual scarring even after several treatments. You need to discuss the treatments with your doctor to see which one is best for you.

Source: National Acne Organization

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