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What are the Treatments for Acne Scars?
A chronic inflammatory skin disease, acne is characterized by the presence of whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, pustules and cysts. Besides the face the other regions of the body which are affected by acne include the neck, back, chest and upper arms.
How is Acne Formed?
When the pores produce excess amount of sebum, it forms a thick plug which closes the opening of the pore. This prevents any further sebum and dead skin cells from escaping the pore. As the sebum and dead cells accumulate inside the pore, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria which feed on the sebum. Once bacterial infection sets in it can cause the pore to become swollen. The swelling of the pore is called acne.
Types of Acne Scars
Acne scars can broadly be classified as atrophic and hypertrophic scars. Atrophic scars normally form as a result of loss of tissue while hypertrophic scars are caused by the excess production of tissues.
The four common type of acne scars are ice pick scars, boxcar scars, rolling scars and hypertrophic or keloid scars.
Treatments for Ice Pick Acne Scars
Deep narrow scars which extend well into the dermis are called ice pick scars because of their similarity to the deep fissures created with an ice pick. Some of the common treatment options available for correcting ice pick scars include Carbon dioxide laser skin resurfacing, erbium laser skin resurfacing, usage fractional lasers and skin needling or rolling.
Carbon Dioxide Laser Resurfacing
In Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing method a laser beam is passed over the area which bears acne scar marks. This procedure which is repeated about three times removes the upper damaged layers of the skin while encouraging re growth of new skin.
Erbium Laser Treatment
Most people opt for erbium laser treatment to remove their acne scars as the side effects from this treatment are much lesser than those posed by carbon dioxide laser resurfacing treatment. Erbium laser is one of the newer procedures for treating acne scars.
Fractional Laser Treatment
Comparatively milder than the carbon dioxide laser treatment procedure, the fractional laser treatment gives better results when it comes to erasing acne scars. The laser beams are directed in spots or pinpoint the exact regions which have to be treated.
Skin Needling or Rolling
A roller which has been studded with needles or a tattoo gun without any pigment is used is used to create trauma to the skin. The skin reacts to this trauma with the production of collagen. Once the collagen remodeling occurs, the skin appears much smoother without any scars.
Treatments for Boxcar Acne Scars
Boxcar scars left behind by an acne breakout can be identified by the oval or round depressed crater like appearance. Light, medium and deep chemical peels along with steroidal injections are the best options which are available for treating boxcar scars.
Light Chemical Peels
AHA or alpha hydroxyl acid and BHA or beta hydroxyl acid peels which are considered mild skin peels are used to treat boxcar acne scars. This treatment sloughs off the outer skin to reveal newer smoother skin underneath. Other than mild skin sensitivity to the sun there are no major side effects for this acne treatment.
Injecting the inflamed areas with a powerful cocktail of steroid can not only help to reduce the inflammation but also reduce the formation of acne scars. Most people opt for this treatment for boxcar acne scars as there recovery time is zero.
Medium Chemical Peels
A qualified dermatologist will used slightly stronger peels like TCA peels and Jessner peels to reduce the acne scarring. These peels can help to reduce but will not completely remove the acne scars. Costing anywhere between one hundred and fifty to five hundred dollars, this treatment can cause some mild
Deep Chemical Peels
These peels are extremely strong face peels which are generally administered by a medical surgeon under full anesthesia. While crusting of the skin is observed after the treatment it can help to remove most of the deep boxcar acne scars.
Treatments for Rolling Acne Scars
Rolling scars create a wave like appearance on the skin. These scars appear both shallow and wide. People whose other wise normal skin has a wave like
appearance is having rolling scars. For treating rolling scars augmentation or usage of filler materials, cytotoxic injections, microdermabrasion and subcision techniques are commonly used.
In this treatment the scar tissue is cleaved from the skin surface allowing the blood to pool and clot under the cut. This procedure helps in hastening the
formation of connective tissue and in the process gives the skin a smoother appearance.
Body Fat, silicone or bovine collagen is injected as a filler material into the scars. The patient who has undergone this treatment may suffer from quite a bit of pain in the first twenty four hours following the treatment.
To improve the appearance of the scar and make it less visible some people opt for the cytotoxic treatment wherein antibiotics like bleomycin or a cancer medication like fluorouracil is injected directly onto the scar surface.
Fine crystals particles are rubbed on the skin surface with a hand held vacuum pump which removes the outer layers of skin. While it does not help in removing the acne scars it can improve the general appearance of the skin.
Treatment for Keloids or Hypertrophic Acne Scars
Raised and lumpy scars that appear on the face, back and chest are commonly referred to as hypertrophic or keloid scars. Cryosurgery, dermabrasion, punch techniques and topical creams are used to combat keloid scars.
Extremely cold liquid nitrogen is applied on the scar tissue to freeze it and later to slough it off. This technique helps to even out the skin texture.
This treatment option is used to remove the upper layers of the skin and give the skin an even smooth appearance. This technique is effective for mild keloid acne scars.
The common punch techniques employed to treat keloid acne scars are punch excision, punch elevation and punch grafting. These treatments work well or deeply scarred skin.
Topical creams which have been specially formulated for treating acne scars can be brought as OTC drugs and help to reduce the skin scarring caused by acne.