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Treating Acne Scars: Know Your Options

As if the experience of dealing with acne wasn't devastating enough; many are faced with unsightly marks at the end of the ordeal. These scars serve as a reminder of the challenging condition that often begins during adolescence and may continue on into adulthood. The scarring itself may create feelings of self consciousness and a general dislike of one's physical appearance. When seeking ways to end this phase once and for all, there are a number of effective treatment options available.

Acne scars come in two basic types; those caused by an increase in tissue, also known as keloids, and those that are due to a loss of tissue, which are more common. This second type of scar can vary in size and depth, and variations will help determine the type of treatment that might be most effective. By understanding different types of scarring that can occur, it is easier to choose the right treatment option.


Dermabrasion may be the most common treatment for acne scars; in part, because it is generally a fairly effective choice. Dermabrasion involves removing the surface skin layer, leaving smoother skin underneath. The process entails a local anesthetic and a high speed brush to remove the outer skin layer. This treatment can remove shallow scars entirely and greatly reduce the depth and appearance of deeper pits. Dermabrasion requires recovery time to allow the skin to heal, which may range from ten days to three weeks. The treatments can be expensive, and multiple sessions are usually required to achieve the desired result.

Laser Resurfacing

Lasers are commonly used for many surgical procedures today, including treatments for acne scars. Lasers vary by wavelength and intensity, and the type of laser used will depend on the type of scarring that is present. Laser resurfacing tends to work best on shallow scars, because it removes the surface layer of skin and tightens and firms the layer directly underneath. The procedure usually requires the use of a local anesthetic and the procedure will take up to an hour. The skin needs approximately three to ten days to heal completely, although redness can remain for longer periods. Laser resurfacing is more expensive than dermabrasion and repeat sessions may be required to complete the process.

Punch Procedures

For deep ice-pick acne scars that don't respond well to other types of treatment, there is a surgical procedure known as "punch" excision. In this treatment, the scar is cut loose from the rest of the skin and either removed entirely or moved up to match the rest of the skin's surface. In cases where the scar section is removed, the hole that is left can be stitched closed. For exceptionally deep scars, a skin graft may be necessary to cover the area. This type of treatment often takes a number of weeks to heal completely, but it tends to be less costly and more permanent than other options. Punch excisions can also be combined with dermabrasion or laser resurfacing for best results.

Acne scars don't have to get in the way of life any longer. With the right treatment, this skin problem can be effectively diminished so that patients can feel good about their appearance once again.

Submitted by:

Beth Munoz

More information on acne scars, acne scarring and a Portland dermatologist of Oregon in your area is just a click away.


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