Cosmetic Procedures for Acne Scars

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It would be wonderful if you could eliminate every kind of acne scar just by applying a cream to your face every day. Unfortunately, scar removal isn't that easy, especially with deeply set and pitted scars. Several cosmetic procedures can help decrease the roughness of scars, while plumping up depressions and pits and evening out skin tone. You may need a combination of treatments to achieve the best results.


Dermabrasion involves running a crystal-tipped wand over the skin's surface to remove the top layer of skin. The procedure takes between a half-hour to two hours depending on the size of the area to be treated. Anesthesia numbs the pain and you can expect your skin to be an open wound for several weeks as it heals. Once your face is fully healed, your acne scars should appear softer and less prominent. This is best for moderate acne scars, but it won't eliminate the appearance of very severe depressions or pits.

Laser Treatment

Laser resurfacing treatments burn off the top layer of skin to stimulate new tissue growth. This also creates an open wound that, once healed, reveals smoother, less scarred skin. Local anesthesia minimizes pain and you will likely need multiple treatments to completely get rid of all acne scars. Each subsequent treatment will take off a bit more of the scar tissue. Treatments are typically spaced about two months apart to allow adequate healing time. Laser treatments are best for moderate scarring, which consist of rolling depressions in the skin but no deep pits.

Chemical Peel

Chemical peels are available in numerous strength levels and comprise different substances such as glycolic acid, lactic acid and phenols. In all cases, a dermatologist applies the peel to your skin, then removes it after a few minutes. Your skin will look red and may even burn during the procedure, but the discomfort shouldn't be unbearable. After treatment, your skin will peel, revealing smoother skin underneath. This is only effective for light or shallow scars. Repeated treatments are necessary to completely remove scars. A peel once every six weeks should help speed scar healing considerably.

Filler Injections

Filler materials are sometimes used to plump up depressed acne scars. Common substances used include hyaluronic acid, collagen and fat. The material is injected into your scars to temporarily make them flush with the majority of your skin. You'll need repeat injections to maintain this look unless you opt for a permanent filler material such as Polymethyl-methacrylate or PMMA, which is essentially a suspension of polymer beads in hyaluronic acid or collagen, according to DermNet NZ. The procedure takes only a few minutes to complete and healing time is practically nonexistent. Expect slight bruising or tenderness at the injection site.

Surgical Procedures

For severe acne scars, surgical removal of the scar tissue is sometimes the best option to return the skin to normal condition. Punch excision is a procedure that involves cutting out a scar, then stitching together the surrounding tissue. For very large scars, a punch graft may be used, wherein tissue from another part of your body is grafted onto the removed area to fill in the gap. For very deep scars, a punch elevation is used to plump up the area where the tissue has been severely damaged. During this procedure, the removed scar tissue is reattached but at a point that is more flush with the rest of your skin. All of these procedures are usually completed in under an hour and can be performed under local anesthesia. Discoloration, bruising swelling and additional scarring can develop as a result.