Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Acne Scar Treatments
The ideal time to receive acne scar treatment is to wait until active acne has stopped or when it is under control. This is because if you treat active acne there is a possible risk of further scarring, so all the efforts can go in vain. Thus, you must treat the underlying acne first. Once it is treated then you can work on scars lightening treatments.
Acne scars are the result of a healing process. When the damaged healthy tissue is healed, the normal cells are replaced by fibrous tissue. Those people who are habitual of picking and squeezing the acne spots are at a greater risk of scar development.
The acne scars can heal and fade for some while it becomes permanent for others.
Yes, the acne scars can lighten or become less depressed as they heal naturally. Some individuals have experienced a decrease in the depth and contour without treatment. The healing ability relies on the following factors:
- Type of skin
- Skin tone
- Skin complexion
- Severity of the acne scar
There are different types of identified acne scars:
- Ice pick scars
- Boxcar scars
- Rolling scars
- Atrophic scars
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to treating acne scar. This is why a single treatment may not be effective and a proper treatment plan may involve different approaches. The best treatment option for you will rely on the following features:
- The discoloration on the skin
- Scar type and severity
- Skin type
The doctor will analyze all these factors before providing a personalized treatment plan.
The extent of improvement depends on the extent of acne scarring. If you have mild to moderate scarring, only a couple of treatment sessions can be effective for you. Number of treatment sessions required may be reduced if one is able to tolerate downtime from selected scar treatment.
In cases where a longer treatment duration is expected, one only sees full results 5 to 6 months after they have started their treatment journey.
Acne scars treatment takes time for results to unfold, so you need to be patient. CO2 laser treatment for skin resurfacing is one of the more effective treatment options. However, you can still expect some irregularities after the first visit prompting a second session for optimal results. The irregularities seen after the first session include:
- Some remaining scars
- Reddish-brown discoloration of the skin
- Uneven contouring of the skin
The need for surgical removal depends on how the skin reacts to the treatment. Surgical or minimally invasive treatments have been used to great effect and may be recommended by the doctor to treat certain scar types.
Mild to moderate cases can be treated using:
- CO2 laser treatment
- Chemical peeling of the skin
- Subcision of skin (the process of fanning a needle under the scar tissue)
- Injecting fillers
Your genetics, severity of scars, and duration of the scars contribute to the complexity of the treatment. Therefore, a skin assessment is needed to determine the treatment approach.
Depending on the treatment type, downtime differs from one treatment to another. Generally, minimally invasive procedures require downtime of around 7 days while the surgical method will take around 7 to 10 days.
In most cases, improvement can be observed from the second session onwards. In some cases, a series of 3-5 sessions may be recommended. This is because the condition of scars and skin healing ability varies between individuals and the number of treatment sessions is decided by the doctor.
There may be slight pain involved in invasive treatments such as skin subcision. However, CO2 fractional laser and laser treatments are generally more tolerable.
The eligibility criteria for every individual are unique and the doctor will carry out a complete analysis of the scar condition before discussing the treatment options with you.
There are a few steps that you can follow to allow rapid healing and optimal results:
A. Keep The Treated Area Of Your Skin clean and Well Moisturized
There is a greater risk of bacterial infection after the treatment. This is because the integrity of the skin is compromised. Keeping the skin clean and well moisturized improves its healing process.
It is generally safe to use a gentle cleanser a few hours after the treatment unless advised otherwise. Light moisturizers prevent the skin from drying out and prolonging the recovery process. In cases where topical antibiotics are prescribed, follow the post treatment care instructions by the doctor for a smoother recovery.
B. Avoid Going Out In The Sun Or Use Sunscreen
It is recommended that you avoid direct sunlight for at least a couple of days. Post-treatment hyperpigmentation is a common phenomenon. Therefore, by avoiding the sun or applying sunscreen you can lessen the risk. Sunscreen should only be applied 24 hours after your treatment.
C. Avoid Wearing Make-Up After Treatment
Makeup and cosmetic products may cause harm to skin that is healing in progress. This is because makeup can interfere with the healing of the wounds and may also increase irritation of the skin. The bacteria exposure from those products can also increase the risk of infection of the wound site.
It is safe to apply makeup after 3 days of surgery. But only light makeup can be used. You can return to the normal routine once the acne scabs have healed.
D. Follow Doctor’s Advice On Skincare Use
Exfoliants are a good source of ridding your skin of dead cells but should be avoided during recovery. You should be cautious in using them and follow the doctor’s advice. Topical retinoids should be applied only after the completion of skin healing. It usually takes 7-10 days for the skin to heal completely.
E. Avoid Picking Your Skin
Many people are habitual of picking their skin. Scabs are common findings after laser treatments. It is recommended you refrain from picking the scabs that go away within 5-10 days.