Types of acne scars
Although many people recover completely from the skin ravages of acne, others are left with facial scars of various types that can leave them feeling self-conscious about their appearance. Acne scars fall into four basic types, three of which show up as indentations or depressions in the skin. The three depressed acne scar types are named after their shapes. The first is an ice pick scar, which is a sharp, pointed indentation. The second is a boxcar scar, which has sharp, square sides to it. The third is a rolling scar, which is wide and shallow and gives the skin a wavy look. There are many approaches you can take if you want to reduce the impact of your scars on your looks.
Surgical procedures for addressing acne scars
Fortunately there have been recent advances in medical technology that allow dermatologists to treat acne scars with a high degree of success. The goal of scar surgery is to raise the scar to the level of the surrounding skin, thereby creating a smooth appearance. Sometimes the scar is actually cut out and the edges of the remaining skin are brought together. Fillers may be used to raise the affected area. Collagen can be used as filler as can fat removed from another area of the patient’s body.
Following surgery for indented scars you may experience some bruising for a week or two. You may need to use antibiotics and keep the skin bandaged for a while. Even after the immediate healing you may notice that it takes a while for the surgery to have its full desired effect.
Laser skin treatment
Laser skin treatment, sometimes called laser skin resurfacing, can be quite effective for smoothing skin affected by certain kinds of depressed acne scars. Ice pick scars and shallow box car scars are most responsive to this treatment. In this surgery a laser is used to cut away at the skin. Since this leaves a visible wound, careful treatment of the area is necessary following surgery. It can up to a year and a half for the effects of this surgery to be fully noticeable.
A chemical peel might be suggested to you as a way to treat acne scars that are not too deep. In this process an acidic mixture is applied to the scarred area to exfoliate the top layer of skin. When new skin replaces the old, it will be smoother and less pock-marked. After the procedure you should avoid the sun and follow the after-care instructions of your doctor carefully.
Injection of fillers
Fillers of various kinds can be injected under indented scars to raise them up to the level of the rest of your skin. Collagen, fat, or artificial materials have been used for this purpose. Most fillers will last anywhere from three months to three years, and so require repeated procedures. A newer treatment involving the injection PMMA (polymethyl-methacrylate) is said to be permanent. Some swelling and bruising can be present for a few days after this treatment.
Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion
These two procedures both aim to smooth the skin by removing the top layer and allowing the skin to rejuvenate itself. Dermabrasion is the older, harsher method and can require many days before you can resume your normal activities. Your skin may feel raw and painful after dermabrasion.
Microdermabrasion is a gentler method. The dermatologist will use a handheld device that sprays very fine crystals onto your skin, sanding off the upper layer. Your face might feel pinkish after microdermabrasion but it should not be raw, and you should be able to resume your normal activities fairly quickly.
Consult your doctor
Before committing to any medical treatment for acne, be sure you have all the knowledge you need to make an educated decision. Talk to the doctor so that you fully understand the risks and benefits of each treatment.