Having acne can be difficult and even devastating, and acne scars can be a disfiguring reminder of acne that lasts a lifetime. Fortunately, laser treatment offers significant help to those who suffer with acne scars.
Scars from prior acne can either indented or raised. Raised scars are usually thick and reddish in color. Depressed scars can be ice-pick, boxcar, or rolling type scars. Both indented and raised scars can be treated with lasers.
Some people refer to discoloration on their skin as scars. This discoloration can be red or brown. While it is not technically scarring, it can be very bothersome. Fortunately, there are excellent options for treating this type of discoloration including lasers and chemical peels.
Fractional Laser Resurfacing
Fractional laser resurfacing using the Lumenis CO2 laser is the most effective way to treat ice-pick and box car type rolling scars. This laser works by zapping the skin with an array of pinpoint lasers. These drill tiny holes in the skin. By making tiny holes, we are injuring the skin in a controlled way and force it to heal smoother and more even.
What is Treatment Like?
For most people, treatment takes about 15 minutes to target acne scars on the temples and cheeks. It might take longer for those with more widespread scars. Prior to treatment, the area is numbed using a powerful numbing cream. After treatment, the treated areas are red and swollen for about 5 days. There is no physical downtime, but the redness and swelling of the skin may make it uncomfortable to be in the public.
Indented acne scars are one of the most difficult conditions to treat, but fractional CO2 resurfacing gets the best results possible. There is no better treatment. Most patients need several treatments for optimal correction, and each treatment must be spaced at least 2 months or more apart.
Fractional resurfacing works by stimulating collagen, so it takes several months to see the full effect of one treatment.
The best candidates for the fractional laser resurfacing are people with indented acne scars who no longer have active acne. If acne is still active, it should be controlled first. There is less risk in people with lighter skin tones, but even those with darker skin types have been treated safely. However, extra precautions need to be taken including pre-treating the skin with skin lightening agents. Those with an active cold sore cannot be treated.
If there are remaining acne scars after a series of laser resurfacing treatments, other techniques can further improve the results. Fillers such as Restylane can be injected into residual scars to plump them up, and localized chemical peels can get rid of stubborn ice-pick type scars.