As we age, acne scars often become more noticeable because our skin loses collagen. The key to effective acne scar treatment is to select the best treatment for each scar type. Puberty affects us all in different ways, but odds are you experienced acne at some point during adolescence. Acne vulgaris afflicts from 80% to 90% of all teenagers in the western world, with varying levels of severity, of course. Most people can use traditional acne treatments such as creams and astringents as acne breakouts begin to fade around the early twenties. However, about half of the people who suffer from acne continue to experience the issue into their thirties.
The consequences stemming from acne can range from light blemishes to deep and unsightly scarring. When acne is severe, consequences to a person tend not only to be physical, but can heavily affect a person’s self-esteem and cause psychological and social problems. For this reason, acne is one of the most treated and investigated skin conditions in the world of dermatology. If you have suffered from acne at any point and live with visible acne scars which have impacted your life, know that help and treatment are available.
TYPE OF ACNE SCARS
It is first important to understand the condition and the different types of acne scars that can be caused by acne. Acne basically happens when hair follicles become clogged with excess oil and dead cells produced by the skin. This causes the follicles to blister and produce pustules, papules, comedones, and even nodules in severe cases; these in turn cause the skin to become inflamed and sometimes infected, leading to acne scars in about 95% of cases. Acne scars come in two main types, depending on whether there is an excess or loss of collagen during the healing process:
Atrophic Acne Scars
The most common type of scarring, they happen when collagen is lost, creating rifts and holes in the epidermis. They are known by the terms “Icepick” scars, which resemble punctured holes in the skin, or “boxcar” scars which resemble box-like depressions. Another kind of atrophic scar is rolling scars which appear as indentations with wave-like shapes.
Hypertrophic or Keloid Acne Scars
Hypertrophic or keloid acne scars occur when too much collagen is produced by the skin. Scar tissue can form around a raised bump which can result in bloated, tough scars.
ACNE SCAR TREATMENT
There is treatment available for either type of acne scarring but options are different for each. Mild acne scars can be initially treated with cortisone creams that will help the skin increase collagen production and regenerate itself. For more severe scarring, an appointment with a dermatologist for a more elaborated treatment is often necessary. Icepick and boxcar acne scars can be treated with either laser or dermal filler treatment; the former functions by vaporizing thin sections of the skin’s surface, getting rid of old damaged layers and promoting the growth of new skin. Fractional non-ablative lasers are also available, which do not damage the skin but still promote collagen generation. Dermal Fillers on the other hand are made out of a hyaluronic acid gel which is injected directly into the area of the scar. It is especially effective on facial rolling scars and some boxcar scars; the downside to filler treatment is that the procedure needs to be repeated as often as every four months as the skin eventually absorbs the injected material. The great thing about dermal filler treatment, on the upside, is that it shows immediate results and will continue to improve the appearance of the scar over time. At Utah Valley Dermatology we offer an ample catalog of dermal fillers including Juvederm, Restylane, Belotero®, and Radiesse®, to name a few.
Keloid scars are treated differently altogether. Keloids can often grow for months and even years and can often be painful and tender. They are resistant to treatment so they must be handled properly and with care. There are different treatments available for keloids such as cortisone injections, cryosurgery which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze-dry the scar, as well as laser treatment that can help the keloid look flatter. Ultimately, surgical excision can be practiced on a keloid, with the risk of it re-growing, but this procedure can be done in conjunction with others such as laser in order to increase the effectiveness of treatment.
If you have suffered from acne that has left you with unwanted acne scars, please consult your dermatologist to see which acne scar treatment is the best option for you.