Most people survive acne outbreaks without any permanent marks, but some – especially those with very sensitive skin or severe acne – end up with noticeable scars. Scars usually happen when a new pimple or lesion appears on a spot that is still healing from a previous one, a process that takes six months to a year. While scars are no cause for alarm, they tend to be disfiguring, and can sometimes make the skin more sensitive and prone to further imperfection. This is what often leads people to seek acne scar removal.
Simple, topical scars can be removed using an acne scar removal cream, which can be bought over the counter or with a prescription. These creams basically work by lightening the affected area so that it matches the surrounding skin. Needless to say, they are only effective on pigmentation problems, or scars caused by mere discoloration.
Deeper scars, which cannot be treated with scar removal cream, can be classified into three types. “Icepick” scars are sharp and narrow, as if they were made by an icepick. They can be corrected with any resurfacing treatment, such as dermabrasion (which basically works like sanding, using non-allergenic crystals) or laser acne scar removal. “Boxcar” scars are round or oval with sharp edges, and can be deep or shallow. Shallow ones can respond to resurfacing, but scars deeper than half a millimeter may require punch excision (cutting out the scar itself and pulling the edges of the skin together) or skin grafts.
Rolling scars have a textured, wavy surface, usually caused by the outer skin being “stuck” to the underlying tissue as the lesion heals. This requires a more advanced procedure called subcutaneous incision, also called a subcision. In this procedure, a specialized needle is inserted under the skin and moved back and forth so that the fibrous bands are cut and the outer skin is freed. It’s the most intrusive type of scar removal and naturally can have some side effects, which include bleeding and bruising. This is why it’s normally recommended only in severe or debilitating cases.
Of course, prevention is better than cure, and it’s best to prevent acne scars rather than shell out to have them removed afterwards. Always keep affected areas clean and avoid touching them at all if possible. When it starts to heal, you can speed up the process with antioxidant, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E products, although if you have sensitive skin you may want to get a recommendation from your doctor.