No matter the severity of your acne scarring, you’re probably a bit embarrassed by their appearance. Acne scarring isn’t always visible until after acne has mostly gone away, so these scars can be a painful reminder of your hardest skin struggles. Fortunately for anyone self-conscious about the appearance of acne scarring, there are aesthetic treatments that can help. At Your Skin RN in Kitchener, ON, we know that treating acne scars with long-term results is possible.
Treating Acne Scars: How Long Does It Take?
Like any other aspect of your skin health and appearance, treating acne scars is a process. Because of how acne scars are formed, there isn’t a magic fix-it topical cream or one-and-done treatment that will completely refresh the appearance of your skin. In general, regardless of what treatment method you are using, you can expect your treatment plan to take several months.
Most acne scar treatments will need to be done in a series of appointments. This is mostly because the treatment of acne scarring involves rebuilding collagen to restore smoothness to the skin surface. To get the best results, most people will need at least three to six initial treatments spaced about four weeks apart – or in other words, it may take three to six months to see your desired results.
How Do We Treat Acne Scarring?
Depending on the type of scar being treated and your skin tone, various methods can be used to reduce acne scars. Ultimately, the goal of any treatment for acne scars is to increase collagen production in the sub-dermal layers beneath the scar so the scar will have volume similar to the surrounding skin tissue.
One of the most popular methods for treating acne scars is laser treatments and IPL light treatments. However, for those who have certain skin tones or types, these energy-based treatments may not be an ideal method for you. At Your Skin RN, we prefer treatments that can be used universally, no matter the tone or type of your skin. Our preferred treatments include:
EndyMed RF Microneedling
Radiofrequency microneedling is an incredibly powerful treatment to rejuvenate the appearance of the skin. This treatment can tackle all types of acne scars and is safe for virtually every patient. This treatment combines the thermal energy of radiofrequency with the regenerative power of microneedling into a simple single-step process that transforms the appearance of your skin from the inside out.
The primary goal of this treatment is collagen induction or stimulating the production of natural collagen in the skin. RF microneedling accomplishes this in two ways; the heat emitted by radiofrequency increases blood flow, while the microchannels opened in the skin by microneedling kick start the skin’s self-healing ability. The results of this treatment tend to be more comprehensive collagen production.
MD Pen is a stand-alone microneedling device that can reduce the appearance of all types of acne scars. Microneedling treatments are minimally invasive and use a 2mm long needle to pierce the surface of the skin to create micro-injuries. These micro-injuries stimulate the body’s regenerative response, including the production of collagen and advanced cellular turnover. This treatment is ideal for mild to moderate acne scars.
MD Pen With PRP
If you want to get the most out of your microneedling treatment, you may want to consider adding PRP to your treatment plan. PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma, which is the portion of your blood that is filled with numerous powerful self-healing tools. To obtain PRP, we perform a simple blood draw and isolate your plasma from your red blood cells.
After the MD Pen has been used on your affected treatment areas, we will then spread the PRP over your skin. The PRP will seem into the lower layers of your skin through the micro-injuries opened by the microneedling device, which will then give your body the resources it needs for faster and more effective wound healing.
Some scars may be better treated with dermal fillers. Using dermal fillers for treating acne scars approaches collagen production differently. Instead of stimulating the production of your own collagen, dermal fillers are used to introduce synthetic collagen to the scarred areas of the skin to restore the smooth texture of the skin. Dermal fillers like Restylane may be able to reduce the appearance of shallow acne scarring.
Three Types of Acne Scars
So, what are acne scars exactly? It’s best to think of acne scars like a footprint left in the sand. Generally, most acne scars leave a depression or a spot of darker pigment on the skin, which marks the smooth, even-toned appearance of the skin. Acne scars generally form while your skin is healing from acne.
Not everyone will form the same type of acne scars. In fact, depending on your genetics and your skin type, some people are more prone to forming certain types of scars. As a note, while it’s more common for people with chronic or severe acne to develop scars, people with sensitive skin types can also more easily form scars, even with mild acne.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is likely the most common type of acne scar. This type of acne scar develops as a result of inflammation on the skin, so even if your acne goes away quickly, you may still have hyperpigmentation afterward. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation most often appears as a patch of skin that is slightly darker than surrounding tissue – it can be red, pink, or brown based on your skin tone.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is an interesting type of acne scar because, in most cases, this scar will go away on its own. This is because this scar only affects the surface layers of skin cells, so as dead skin cells are shed, the hyperpigmentation will also fade. However, hyperpigmentation can take several weeks or months to fade naturally, so aesthetic treatments can help you restore your skin more quickly.
Atrophic acne scars are both the most challenging scars to treat and the scars that have the most variance in appearance. The term “atrophic” is used to refer to any type of scar that creates a depression or “pit” in the skin. These scars can be wide or small, shallow or very deep, and tend to develop on the chin, cheeks, and even the area around the nose or mouth. The common atrophic scars include:
Icepick scars are the most difficult acne scar to treat. Although icepick scars may not seem as severe as other scars, they are very deep and call for a large amount of collagen growth. Icepick scars are very narrow and are sometimes mistaken for enlarged pores,
Boxcar scars have a squarish appearance and can be either shallow or deep. These scars are most often seen on the fatty areas of the cheek where more collagen is present in the skin. Boxcar scars are generally the scars people are talking about when they mention “pits” in the skin.
Rolling scars can be large or small, but they tend to have softer edges and “roll” across the skin. Also common on the cheeks, these scars can make your skin appear to have an uneven texture. Rolling scars are often the result of continual acne for several years. These scars respond very well to microneedling.
Hypertrophic scars are the opposite of atrophic scars. Instead of sinking into the surface of the skin, these scars form bumps on top of the skin. Hypertrophic scars such as keloids are commonly found on the back and shoulders, but can also develop on the face. The treatment of hypertrophic scars may mean you and your provider will need to talk about additional treatment options.
What About Other Post-Acne Skin Problems?
Even when acne is gone, you may still have some evidence that you once had challenged skin. Not everyone forms acne scars as a result of chronic acne, but you may be left with slightly enlarged pores or uneven skin tone after acne has healed. Fortunately, the treatments that can correct the appearance of acne scars can also reduce the size of pores, refine the texture of the skin, and even out the tone of the skin.
Are Acne Scar Treatments Permanent?
Many patients who have acne scars want to know if they can expect permanent results, and the truth is that it will depend on the scar being treated and your skin, as well as the method used for your treatment. For example, treating post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation will often result in permanent results. Treating atrophic acne scars, on the other hand, may require regular treatments to maintain long-term results. We will discuss the reasonable expectations you should have for your treatment during your consultation.
How Can You Maintain Your Results?
The most important tool in your toolbox to maintain your desired results is to attend each of your regular maintenance appointments, which may be scheduled once or twice a year. Your maintenance appointments will ensure that the collagen production in your skin is high enough to keep the surface of your skin smooth. Other things you can do to maintain your results include:
Control Your Acne
The best way to prevent future acne scars is to control your acne today. By limiting your breakouts, you can avoid the incorrect skin healing that causes acne scars to develop in the first place. There are many ways to control your acne breakouts, including professional-strength acne-fighting products prescribed by your aesthetic experts.
Avoid Sun Exposure
Unprotected sun exposure can cause premature ageing – and it can also make post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation worse. When pigmented skin is exposed to UV rays, more melanin production is triggered, which means your skin discoloration may last longer. Wear SPF during the daytime to avoid hyperpigmentation.
Leave Your Skin Alone
Anyone who has ever had acne knows how tempting it is to pop or pick at a zit, but this is something you should avoid doing. By picking at healing acne, you are prolonging the healing process and making it more difficult for your skin to heal correctly or scar-free. If your skin is already prone to scarring, then it’s especially important to leave your skin alone during a breakout.
Treat Acne Scars Today
Treating acne scars takes the right combination of patience and the right acne scar treatment for your skin and scar type. A series of several treatments with your preferred acne scar treatment will be able to smooth the appearance of your skin – sometimes even permanently. If you want to start treating acne scars today so you can feel more confident, please contact Your Skin RN in Kitchener, ON to schedule your consultation today.