Most mild to moderate acne clears up on its own. But some moderate and severe acne can leave scars behind, many of which are shaped like pock marks—pits or craters in the skin. Fortunately, dermatologists have a variety of potential treatments for acne pock mark scars.
Acne, also known as acne vulgaris, is generally caused by four factors, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. These factors include bacteria, inflammation, extra oil in the skin and clogged pores in the skin, the AAD says. Pock mark scars result when acne is severe and when inflammation reaches deep into the skin. Such pock mark scars are permanent unless treated, although they may become slightly less noticeable over time as the skin ages.
Types of Treatments
Some over-the-counter treatments are available that claim to reduce the appearance of acne scars, but medical evidence on their effectiveness is lacking in the case of severe acne scarring involving pock mark scars. However, dermatologists have a wide array of potential acne scar treatments. According to the AAD, treatments such as non-invasive laser treatment, ablative laser resurfacing, skin fillers, dermabrasion and microdermabrasion and chemical peels all can reduce the appearance of acne pock mark scars significantly.
Before non-invasive laser treatments and other light therapies were developed, dermatologists most often treated acne pock mark scars with invasive treatments such as dermabrasion, chemical peels and ablative lasers. However, according to the AAD, many of these treatments cause side effects such as significant inflammation and post-treatment darkening or lightening of the skin. Non-invasive laser therapy and other therapies involving light, such as photodynamic therapy, have changed that, the AAD says.
Non-invasive laser treatment is quite effective against acne pock mark scars. For example, a 2005 study published in the medical journal “Dermatologic Surgery” compared two different types of laser systems and found them both to be effective. About half of the patients treated saw approximately 30 to 40 percent reduction in their acne scars after three treatments, according to the study. Immediate side effects included some reddness and swelling, but no long-term side effects were reported.
Dermatologists often use facial fillers, commonly produced from hyaluronic acid, in addition to non-invasive laser or light therapy to treat acne pock mark scars, according to the AAD. Some people may not be good candidates for laser or other treatments due to their medical history and current health status. Dermatologists urge potential patients to consult with them about their treatment options for acne pock mark scars.