What is acne scarring?
When patients develop acne or breakouts which if not adequately treated can leave behind marks known as acne scars. They can have devastating consequences on the mental health of the patients. But the good news is a lot of treatment options are available to treat these scars.
How to prevent acne scars?
- Adequate and timely treatment of acne and breakouts is the most important step in prevention of acne scars. Various topical medicines such as retinoids and oral medicines are available which can reduce the inflammation and the risk of scarring.
- Use sunscreens regularly.
- Avoid smoking.
- Do not scratch or pick your acne.
- Consult a dermatologist to treat your scars. Longer you wait, it becomes difficult to treat the scars. So early intervention is the key for treatment.
What are the various types of acne scars?
Dark or red scars: They are very common types of scars which present as flat red colored or dark colored marks.
Depressed scars: They present as depressed lesions with atrophic shiny surface. They are further of many types:
- Ice pick scars: commonly known as open pores. They are V shaped scars.
- Box car scars: They are U shaped scars
- Rolling scars: They are scars with rounded margins and disappear when the skin is stretched.
Hypertrophic or keloidal scars: They present as raised hard nodular lesions especially over chest and back. It can also rarely occur over face.
What are the various treatment options for scars?
Consult a dermatologist for proper treatment of acne scars based on the type of scars.
Topical medications: These medicines can help improve the texture of the scars and help in reducing the red colored or pigmented scars. Various medications which can be used are alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid, retinoids and sunscreen.
Chemical peeling: In this a chemical is applied carefully over the scars for a certain duration of time to remove the upper layers of skin. New skin which comes afterwards will have less scars. It also helps in reducing formation of new acne. Multiple sessions are required every 2-3 weeks to see beneficial results. Your dermatologist will decide the best chemical peeling agent for the type of scars and your acne.
Dermaroller: It is device with fine needles which is rolled on over the scars after numbing the area. Multiple sessions every 2-4 weeks are required for proper results.
Microdermabrasion: It is a device which removes upper layers of skin to resurface the scars.
Laser resurfacing: Fractional CO2 lasers can be used to treat acne scars. In this, a numbing cream is applied over the skin. Fractional CO2 laser beam is passed over the skin which damages the scarred collagen in the skin. New collagen is produced by the body’s healing response which leads to improvement in scars. Multiple sessions are required every 1-2 month.
Steroid injection: Raised or hypertrophic scars can be treated by giving steroid injections inside the scars which reduces the fibrous tissue and flattens the scars.
TCA CROSS (chemical reconstruction of scars) : It is specialized technique used to treat ice pick scars with the help of acid.
Subcision: It is technique which uses needles to break the fibrous tissue beneath the scars to help raise the scars.
Excision: In this scarred tissue is removed surgically.
Punch grafting: Scarred tissue is removed with the help of punch and new skin (which is taken from other body area) is placed over the scarred area.
Dermal fillers: In this, depressed scars are filled with hyaluronic acid underneath to help raise them to the surface.
Autologous Fat grafting: In this fat is taken from the thighs and placed underneath the scras to help raise them.
What are the various risk and side effects of acne scar treatment?
Risks and side effects are minimal in the hands of trained and experienced dermatologist.
You can have minimal pain, swelling, redness post the procedure depending upon the type of procedure done. There is downtime in some procedures. If sun protection is not followed properly then there’s risk of pigmentation.