Acne scars can be highly visible and last a very long time or even become permanent. How can you prevent them, and how can you treat them once they’ve set in?

 

Acne scars: what treatments are effective?

Minor acne marks may disappear spontaneously, sometimes after several months or weeks. Depending on the type of scars – sunken or raised, pigmented or non-pigmented – and how long they have lasted, various techniques can be used to reduce or eliminate them.

The best thing you can do is speak with a healthcare professional, who will be able to assess the situation, determine which type of scars you have, and choose the most appropriate method. But you’ll need to wait until your acne has fully healed before anything can be done. Furthermore, this type of treatment is usually performed in the winter to avoid any risk of photo-pigmentation.

Woman - Facial Exfoliation

1. A peel with glycolic, salicylic or fruit acids can achieve good results if applied to red pigmented marks caused by acne. Among other things, it can restore radiance to the complexion and possibly tighten pores.

Woman cleaning her pores in a beauty salon

2. Dermabrasion is a mechanical method that consists in sanding the outermost layer of the skin to induce epidermal regeneration.  The procedure is performed under local or general anaesthesia and results can be seen after one week. Sun exposure should be avoided for at least two months following dermabrasion.

Woman applying cream on her face

3. Depigmenting creams are mainly intended for dark or olive skin with dark spots.

Woman having skin therapy

4. While laser treatment is recommended, the technique used will depend on the type of scars you have:
- Vascular lasers (LED, Q-Switched) are indicated for flat red pigmented marks.
- Fractional lasers (Erbium, CO2, ablative or non-ablative) correct large, shallow sunken scars within several sessions.
- Ablative lasers (CO2, Erbium) are dedicated to raised, rope-like scars. The skin is numbed with an anaesthetic and burned to generate skin tissue renewal and resurface the skin. At least one week of downtime is required.

 

Woman receiving treatment by a doctor

5. Needling or micro-needling consists in using a sort of electric pen equipped with micro-needles. Once again, the idea is to induce healing by puncturing – more or less deeply – the areas to be treated.

Woman with Dermatologist - Cosmetological Clinic

6. Hyaluronic acid injections can successfully fill in indented (atrophic) acne scars, the most common type.

Female patient

7. Surgery is reserved for deep and narrow scars. It requires at least one week of downtime and should be followed by laser treatment for final skin resurfacing.

Injections under the skin

8. The injection of corticoids produces results with raised keloid scars, when the skin is bumpy. The aim is to reduce the volume of scars before resurfacing them with ablative laser treatment.

How can you prevent acne scars?

The prevention of scarring from acne lesions is simple and revolves around two basic rules:

Don’t touch your blemishes

Touching, popping or squeezing your blemishes in front of the mirror will considerably increase the risk. If you deeply damage your skin, it will further break out and will then have a hard time repairing itself, possibly resulting in the formation of scars.

 

Don’t expose yourself to the sun

This is partly because the sun aggravates acne, even though it appears to improve the skin at first.

In addition, many anti-blemish treatments are photo-sensitising and react to the sun, causing dark spots.

 

Lastly, and most importantly, lesions in the healing phase – like any other lesions – can become pigmented in the sun. If the skin is damaged, UV radiation causes local hyperpigmentation that can be permanent.