Medical Procedures for Acne Scar Removal
For the most severe acne scars, medical treatments may be necessary to significantly reduce their appearance. While over the counter products may help, they may not be enough or work quickly enough. In these situations, some people turn to medical procedures to get rid of their acne scars.
Without a doubt, medical procedures are the fastest ways to get rid of acne scars. However, medical procedures also very expensive, can be painful, may have serious side effects, and have long recovery times. Read on to discover what you can expect from each of the most popular medical procedures for acne scar relief.
Mechanical Techniques: Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion
Mechanical therapies use physical stimulation to try to remove the top lairs of skin and scar tissue in an effort to remove the most scarred skin tissue and allow new tissue to form in its place. The idea and hope here is that the newly formed tissue will heal in a smoother, more natural pattern, increasing skin smoothness and reducing discoloration.
Dermabrasion is a medical procedure that involves scraping off the top lairs of skin with a special tool or brush. This is done in a doctor’s office as it can cause serious bleeding and infection if not done properly. This technique leaves the skin looking very bloody and raw but after it heals over in a few months, the skin underneath looks new and fresh. Of course, if done improperly, this can actually cause scarring. There is no guarantee this will work either.
Microdermabrasion is similar to dermabrasion but instead of piercing the skin, microdermabrasion just lightly scratches the surface. No living skin cells are removed with microdermabrasion, only dermabrasion. You can purchase microdermabrasion tools and perform it from the comfort of home. However, microdermabrasion does not really do much and may not be very effective at getting rid of scars.
Note that some products with small needles advertise themselves as microdermabrasion tools, but they are actually dermabrasion tools. True microdermabrasion should not hurt as no tissue that is innervated is touched.
Surgical Techniques: Removal and Subcision
Two surgical procedures that can be used to get rid of acne scars are scar removal and subcision. Scar removal is a very rare procedure while subcision is somewhat commonly performed.
Scar removal involves physically cutting the scar out and removing it as if it were a tumor. This procedure is almost never performed because the scarring that results from the surgery is often worse than the scar being removed. Instead, it may be used to remove keloid scars that are particularly painful. However, keloid scars removed in this fashion have a very strong chance of recurrence, so this is seen as a “last ditch effort” procedure.
Subcision is used to smooth out skin that may be pock-marked or bumpy as the result of acne scars. In this procedure, small incisions are used to physically cut the link between the skin and the deeper scar in the collagen tissue, causing the two to separate and loosen up some. With the skin not so tightly adhered to collagen, it will appear less lumpy. The incisions do cause some pain and require a few weeks if not months of recovery time, but the procedure itself is can be effective at smoothing out skin.
Unfortunately, subcision does not address discoloration or dark spots that often go along with acne scars.
Chemical Techniques: Chemical Peels
Chemical peels work similar to dermabrasion but use harsh acids to destroy the top layer of skin. These dead skin cells are then peeled off. The hope is that the new skin cells that form in their place will be smoother and more uniformly colored.
Sometimes this works, sometimes it does not. The side effects and recovery time depend on the strength of the chemical peel. Strong chemical peels may burn the skin whereas others may be very mild. Ask your dermatologist for specifics on the chemical peel they recommend.
Chemical peels are generally used in conjunction with subcision or laser therapy for best results.
Laser Therapies for Acne Scars
The newest and most exciting form of acne treatment is laser therapy. There a lot of different lasers and tools used to treat acne scars, so be sure to ask your dermatologist which type they particularly recommend. Some dermatologists may perform one type of treatment but not another, so be sure to question anyone you are going to allow to work on your face or body.
The two most common methodologies are laser ablation and non-ablative laser techniques. Laser ablation refers to using laser light to actually cut into the skin tissue. The idea here is that the laser can be used to break up the tight bands of collagen that form scars, reducing the appearance of scarring. This does cause a bleeding and has a very long recovery time as the laser actually pierces the skin. It also has the risk of causing hypopigmentation, in which the treated skin loses all color.
A more advanced form of laser therapy to reduce acne scars is non-ablative laser therapy. This does not actually cut directly into the skin but instead uses different wavelengths of light to particularly target the deep collagen fibers responsible for scarring. Intense cold can be applied to the surface of the skin while using a non-ablative laser in order to prevent the laser from actually “cutting” the skin. Recent advances have allowed non-ablative laser therapy to be just as effective as ablative laser therapy with significantly less side effects and a faster recovery time.
However, not all dermatologists offer non-ablative laser therapies and those that are certified to use these tools may charge more than dermatologists who are not. Laser therapy definitely works but is also very expensive. Treatments run $1,000 or more and a single treatment may not be enough to get rid of all scarring.
An Easier Alternative
Given the extreme cost and long recovery time of medical procedures for acne scars, you might want to consider trying out an easier solution before jumping into surgery. A scar-fading cream like Revitol may be all you need to reduce the appearance of your acne scars. Rubbing in a cream is certainly much more convenient than getting surgery. You can read more about Revitol on their website, which you can visit by clicking here.