At some point in your life, you’ve likely come face-to-face with unsightly acne, in fact, 90% of adolescents will experience it in their lives1. While going through it is bad enough, having to deal with the aftermath in your adult years is another thing. Nevermind if you’ve suffered the emergence or recurrence of acne in your adult years as well. Pockmarks, blemishes, blotches, craters – not only are they embarrassing and frustrating, acne scars are as emotionally debilitating as they are aesthetically unpleasing.
So what do you do when your tumultuous teen years or awful adult years are literally written all over your face? Luckily, there are many treatment options available for all scar-types, ranging from topical at-home treatments to those performed in a doctor’s office. Read on as we compare these treatments and help you find the one that’s right.
Your skin leaves a legacy, and sometimes it’s not a good one. Even though you’ve always religiously washed your face and did your best not to pick, you may still be affected with a constant reminder of puberty or adult acne. 95% of people affected with acne get some form of scarring as a result2.
Acne scarring is a direct result of deep skin trauma related to acne. These scars manifest as either as a pit in the skin or a raised bump on the skin, and both have to do with collagen production.
Atrophic Scars vs. Hypertrophic Scars
There are 2 basic types of scars that happen as a result of acne – atrophic and hypertrophic3.
Atrophic scars appear when the healed surface of the skin is below the normal level of dermal tissue – the result of an under-production of collagen at the healing site of an infection. Unfortunately that loss of collagen means skin loses structure, thus forming a divot or a pit4.
Hypertrophic scars are quite the opposite. This type of scar occurs when skin produces too much collagen, causing the healed skin to form an elevated, reddish bump5.
Distinguishing the difference between the two is an important first step towards choosing the best treatment option. Now let’s take a look at what’s out there.
Depending on the severity of acne scarring, there are plenty of effective treatments you can do right at home.
There are a variety of creams, lotions, gels and serums that can help diminish the appearance of mild to moderate acne scars. Here are some ingredients to look out for.
A natural antioxidant known for its aid in promoting collagen formation, vitamin C is an extremely effective ingredient in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like acne and the scars that happen as a result6. Ingesting vitamin C isn’t enough to make a dramatic difference in skin’s appearance so it must be applied topically to work. Many effective products contain vitamin C and are available in various forms, including L Ascorbic Acid and Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate.
L Ascorbic Acid is basically vitamin C in its purest form. While it’s effective in treating skin conditions such as acne scarring, it’s unstable, meaning it easily oxidizes when exposed to heat, light and air7. Choosing a vitamin C-containing product that minimizes exposure to these elements is extremely important in ensuring their effectiveness. So those that come in an opaque bottle (as opposed to jar) are recommended, such as the Riversol Anti-Aging Serum.
Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate is a relatively new derivative of Vitamin C and is being touted with superior stability and effectiveness in products that help with skin collagen reproduction.
An important fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E has been used for more than 50 years in dermatology. It aids in protecting the skin and neutralizing damaging free radicals. Because of its antioxidant activity, it also plays a big role in helping skin naturally exfoliate itself8. So choosing a product rich in vitamin E, like the Daily Moisturizing Cream, may prove very effective in helping fade away the look of scars formed by acne.
An alpha hydroxyl acid derived from sugarcane, glycolic acid is often used in the treatment of effective acne treatments or “peels”. Because it has small molecules, it’s able to deeply penetrate the skin, stimulating collagen reproduction in acne scarring treatments9. Try the Exfoliating Glycolic Peel to benefit from this powerful ingredient.
This one has been around for a really long time. A powerful acid, salicylic has been used for over 2, 000 years in the treatment of various skin disorders. It’s ability to help exfoliate the skin and therefore improving the skin’s appearance, makes it an excellent agent in helping treat acne scarring10.
Light therapy is a fast-growing technology used to help treat acne scarring by helping heal, relieve inflammation and restore the skin11. This type of therapy uses phototherapy with the use of visible light and has been proven very effective in improving skin damaged by acne12.
In more severe cases, a trip to the dermatologist for an in-office procedure may be in order. Here we’ll take a look at some of the most effective treatments used to help those with extreme scarring.
Acne Scar Surgery
There are a couple of different procedures in this category. Punch excision involves a doctor cutting out individual acne scars and repairing the wound with stitches or a skin graft13. Another technique, subcision, involves inserting needles under the skin to help loosen the fibres below the scars, helping improve their appearance14.
Laser Skin Resurfacing Therapy
More powerful than at-home laser or light therapies, in-office lasers are highly effective in resurfacing the skin, improving the texture, tone and appearance with little downtime15. They work by removing the top layer of skin stimulating collagen and new skin production.
Also known as medical skin needling or micro-needling, this treatment uses tiny needles, which are rolled over the skin creating small punctures, or “traumas”16. While it sounds painful, this minimally invasive treatment stimulates the body’s natural collagen production helping thicken or “plump up” the appearance of acne scars17.
Don’t let acne scars get the better of you. As you can see, there are many treatment options available to help you get rid of those unsightly blemishes and restore your self-confidence. Booking a visit with a dermatologist will get you well on your way to finding the best possible treatment for your acne scars.
- Dermatol Res Pract. (2010) Acne Scars: Pathogenesis, Classification and Treatment. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2958495/
- J Clin Aesthet Dermatol (2015) Treating Acne Scars: What’s New? Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4570086/
- Dermatol Res Pract (2010) Acne Scars: Pathogenisis, Classification and Treatment. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2958495/
- J Clin Aesthet Dermatol (2011) Practical Evaluation and Management of Atrophic Acne Scars Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3168245/
- Clinics (Sao Paulo) (2014) Update on hypertrophic scar treatment. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4129552/
- Marianne N. O’Donoghue and Patricia K. Farris. Vitamin C Cosmeceuticals.
- J. Cosmet. Sci. (2009) Skin collagen reproduction increased by ascorbic acid derivative iontophoresis by frequent-reversal bipolar electric stimulation. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1028.9164&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- Indian Dermatol Online J. (2016) Vitamin E in dermatology. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976416/
- Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol (2013) Glycolic acid peel therapy – a current review. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3875240/
- Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol (2015) Salicylic acid as a peelig agent: a comprehensive review. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4554394/
- Semin Cutan Med Surg. (2014) Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
- J Clin Aesthet Dermatol (2009) Clinical Efficacy of Self-applied Blue Light Therapy for Mild-to-Moderate Facial Acne. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2923954/
- J Clin Aesthet Dermatol (2015) Atrophic Acne Scarring. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295858/
- J Cutan Aesthet Surg (2010) Acne Scar Subcision. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956956/
- Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol (2014) Skin resurfacing procedures: new and emerging options. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4155739/
- Indian Dermatol Online J. (2016) Microneedling: Advances and widening horizons. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976400/
- J Clin Aesthet Dermatol (2015) Microneedling Therapy for Atrophic Acne Scars. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4509584/