Everyone struggles with acne at one point or another in their life, but most of us would rather forget about those times once we get past them. However, that is nearly impossible when your acne leaves behind scars that last long after the acne has gone away. Acne scars develop as a result of collagen damage that is often caused by inflammation occurring beneath the skin during an acne breakout.
Just as there are different types of acne that one can struggle with, there are also a variety of different kinds of acne scars. If you have dark spots or skin discolouration that is black, brown, purple, or red, that can be referred to as hyperpigmentation.
Shallow scars with a strong and straight defined edge are considered boxcar scars. Depressed scars with less of a defined edge or ridge and more of a rippled or layered look are classified as rolling scars. Finally, deep and narrow scars are known as icepick scars.
Fortunately, there are ways to treat acne scarring, although these processes are all rather time-consuming and cannot be rushed. The best treatment method for your acne scarring will depend on the kind of scarring that you have, as there are certain methods that are better suited to each type.
Some of the most common acne scar removal methods include microneedling, retinoid treatment, chemical peels, laser treatments, and dermal fillers.
How can microneedling treat acne scars?
Microneedling is one of the most common treatment methods for acne scars and can be used to help with hyperpigmentation, rolling scars, boxcar scars, and icepick scars. This treatment method uses controlled trauma by pressing fine needles into the skin that penetrate through the epidermis and, in doing so, stimulate the skin’s natural healing process.
These microneedles bring about the production of new collagen fibers and elastin, which pushes the old, damaged skin out and fills in the acne scars over time.
Microneedling’s popularity mostly comes from the effective results that it initiates, but it is also well-liked because it is a relatively quick and painless procedure. If you are seeking to get microneedling in Toronto, you may be wondering what the process is like from start to finish.
Prior to the start of the needling process, you will be given a topical numbing cream that you can apply to the treatment area about an hour in advance. This cream will minimize any potential discomfort during the needling. The microneedling process is done with a small hand-held device with tiny needles that prick certain parts of your skin, and it is usually over within 15 minutes or so.
After the microneedling is finished, it is common for the doctor to apply a solution to your skin that helps to further stimulate the recovery process, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or vitamin C serum.
No downtime is necessary following a microneedling treatment, so you can immediately return to your normal activities as long as you stay out of the sun while you are healing. Although you may experience some redness or irritation during the first day or two after the procedure, the chances of other side effects occurring are minimal, and you should start to see results almost immediately.
It is generally best to have at least three microneedling sessions that are spaced one month apart. During the weeks after each follow-up session, you will likely notice increasingly better results. Of course, depending on the condition of your skin, the type of scars you have, and your appearance goals, more or fewer treatments may be necessary.
Other Non-Invasive Cosmetic Treatments for Acne Scarring
Although microneedling may be one of the most common approaches to treating acne scars, it certainly is not the only option. In fact, there are a wide variety of non-invasive cosmetic treatment options that are aimed at reducing the visibility of acne scars so that they blend in with the tone and texture of your skin.
The following are some other common and effective methods for treating acne scarring:
A laser resurfacing treatment is a great option if you have widespread acne scarring. This treatment involves the use of a fractional carbon dioxide (CO2) laser, which delivers beams of energy to the deeper layers of your skin to break up the scar tissue and trigger your skin’s collagen remodelling process. Laser resurfacing tends to work best when you undergo three to five sessions every two to four weeks.
Unfortunately, this kind of treatment approach is not suitable for all skin tones. It works best for people with relatively fair skin, specifically those whose skin can be rated as type 1, 2, or 3 on the Fitzpatrick scale. People with darker skin tones have a higher chance of their skin being damaged by the heat from the laser.
Another common skin-resurfacing procedure is dermabrasion, in which the outer layer of your skin will be removed by a rapidly rotating device so that it can grow back smoother. Depending on the extent of your procedure, your doctor may numb your skin with anesthetics, or you may be given a sedative or general anesthesia.
Although this treatment approach tends to work well on depressed acne scars that lie flat against the surface of your epidermis, it is not as effective for deeper scars like icepick scars.
Another way of repairing and rejuvenating areas of skin that are damaged by acne scars is with chemical peels. This treatment approach involves the application of a chemical solution to the affected areas of your skin, which results in the damaged skin cells on the surface peeling off to expose a healthier layer of skin underneath that has a more even texture and appearance.
It may be necessary to repeat the peel procedure in one- to four-week intervals until you achieve your desired results.
Botox injections can be another method for battling acne scars. Receiving botox injections in the areas of your skin that are affected by acne scarring can help limit the stress on your scar tissue, making your scars less visible. However, since there is a loss of collagen in areas affected by acne scarring, it may be necessary to pair botox injections with dermal fillers made up of collagen or hyaluronic acid to better fill in the scars.
The fillers add volume to the scarred areas, which helps even out the texture of the skin. Although this method has proven to be effective, it typically needs to be repeated every 12-18 months to maintain your skin’s smooth appearance.
Skincare Products and Routines for Scarred Skin
The best way to prevent acne scarring is to treat acne properly in the first place, which can be achieved with a proper skincare routine. Acne is the result of clogged pores and excessive oil production, and can also stem from hormonal or diet changes.
A good skincare routine can help remove excess oil, keep your pores clear so that acne-causing bacteria have limited opportunities to grow, and support your skin’s healing to promote the fading of existing blemishes. If you maintain a quality and consistent skincare routine, you can limit the frequency and severity of acne breakouts.
A skincare routine works best when you apply the proper treatments. It is usually a good idea to start the process with a good cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, as this will help it to kill acne-causing bacteria. A cleanser is best followed by a toner that will remove oil from your skin while hydrating it.
Depending on the severity of your acne, you may also want to apply acne medication, such as clindamycin, or a retinoid, like retinol or tretinoin. The final step of a good skincare routine may involve applying a quality moisturizer.
Before and After Microneedling Treatment for Acne Scars
One of the keys to achieving successful results from microneedling is following proper aftercare instructions to ensure that your skin fully heals. The most important part of this is avoiding situations when your skin is exposed to the sun for prolonged periods. You should also apply sunscreen to your skin whenever you will be in the sun for some time.
Aside from avoiding excessive sun exposure, it is necessary to avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. Although it is rare to experience pain after a microneedling treatment, if you do have any pain, you should avoid using ice to soothe it.
Instead, you can use Tylenol or paracetamol to help manage the pain. It also helps to maintain a healthy diet during the healing process, which includes avoiding the consumption of wheat, sugar, and dairy as much as possible.
Immediately after the treatment, some slight irritation is a natural side effect. However, this discomfort is typically no more intense than the sensation of a sunburn. Your skin may also feel dry, tight, and sensitive for some time.
If you find that your skin is beginning to flake after a few days, allow it to naturally flake off without peeling it. If you notice any more severe side effects, such as bleeding, bruising, or infection, it is a good idea to call your doctor and schedule a consultation so that they may suggest the best course of action.
Effective Treatment Options for Acne Scars
Acne scars are naturally something that many people are rather self-conscious of, as they can permanently change the appearance of one’s skin if left untreated. There can be many different types of acne scars, some of which are deeper and wider than others.
Fortunately, no matter what kind of acne scars you suffer from, there are quick, easy, effective, and non-invasive treatment methods that you can take advantage of.
These methods, which include microneedling, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, chemical peels, and botox injections, apply various techniques that aim to improve the smoothness, evenness, and appearance of your skin over time. In some cases, the best approach is to combine a mixture of these methods for optimal results.
Erin Gregory is a blogger in Toronto. She is currently working as a Community Manager for several small businesses. She has graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing. When not working, she eagerly shares her wealth of knowledge about all things health and business solutions. Erin’s unique insight and expertise makes for powerful content.