Acne is often a painful skin issue, both physically and mentally. It can cause a loss of confidence and this can sometimes persist even after the acne clears up due to scarring.
If you have struggled with acne and acne scars, you might be looking into options to have them removed or reduced. In this article, we will take you through the pros and cons of laser therapy — one of the best dermatological treatments to minimize acne scarring.
What are acne scars?
Acne scars are formed as a result of the inflammation of the acne itself. The pore gets enlarged, causing damage to its wall. While some scars are tiny and shallow and fade quickly by themselves, others go deeper into the surrounding tissue causing larger, more noticeable marks
The scars take on two broad forms. The first, known as atrophic scars, results from a loss of tissue that leaves an indentation on the skin. The second, known as hypertrophic scars, appear raised or bump-like on the skin. The latter is actually an indicator that your skin is doing its best to create the collagen needed for healing but that it is possibly producing a little too much.
There are many specific types of acne scars under these two major categories.
- Boxcar Scars: Boxcar scars are wide atrophic scars with sharp edges that create a depression on your skin. They can be shallow or deep, with the former being more likely to respond to scar reduction treatments like microdermabrasion and gentle peels.
- Ice Pick Scars: Ice Pick scars are named that because they make your skin look like it has been punctured by an ice pick. They have a sunken or pitted appearance, with their V-shape going deep into the skin. The depth of these scars is the reason they are usually the most difficult to heal.
- Rolling Scars: Rolling scars are wide scars that make the skin look as if it is rolling underneath. They have the rough shape of the letter ‘M’ and are usually 4 to 5 millimeters wide. They occur due to the bands of scar tissue that form under the skin.
- Rolling scars happen because of bands of scar tissue that form under the skin. They give the surface of the skin a rolling and uneven appearance. They also develop because of dermal tethering to the subcutis tissue. They are typically 4 to 5 millimeters wide and add a rolling or undulating appearance to the skin. They appear like the letter ‘M’.
The laser acne treatment process
As is the case with any skin treatment, there is a specific procedure that dermatologists and aestheticians follow during laser treatment for acne. Getting a rough understanding of this might help you decide to try it out.
The treatment for acne scarring works largely in 2 ways. The first step is when the heat from the laser zaps off the outermost layer of the skin where the scar is. The removal of this layer gives you a much smoother visage. Second, the scar tissue breaks up, and the heat and light emitted from the laser nudge the skin to create new and healthy cells. Blood also flows towards the heat of the laser, and this causes inflammation levels to reduce.
The combination of these two functions makes your scars less raised and flushed while boosting the healing properties of your skin.
The most common types of lasers used for acne scar reduction are erbium YAG lasers, carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers, and pulsed-dye lasers.
How long will the effects of laser acne treatment last?
Since you are probably going to invest a lot of time and effort into your laser treatments, it is only natural to ask the big question: can laser treatment remove acne scars permanently? That said, the answer to this question depends on many factors, including the type of treatment you are undergoing, your skin’s healing speed and the depth of your acne scars.
Ablative laser treatments usually have permanent results. It is not common for additional treatment to be required in this type of laser treatment unless the scar appears again. Non-ablative laser therapies like laser resurfacing are highly effective on a permanent basis when the acne scars are mild.
While scarring can go away permanently with laser acne treatment, this is not always the case with discoloration caused by acne. Discoloration might go away for a long time, but it still presents the possibility of returning.
Additional treatments for acne scars
Some acne scars need additional or more rigorous treatment.
– Erbium YAG Laser Treatment: Erbium YAG laser therapy is an ablative treatment that works to remove the whole upper layer of your skin pertinent to the place in which the scarring is found. It is extremely effective but can take between 3 to 10 days before the redness from it subsides.
– Acne Fillers: Dermal fillers are another way of removing indentations and depressions resulting from acne scarring. They are injected into the skin at the site of the scarring and work to lift the skin up, thereby reducing the appearance of the scar. However, the effects of dermal acne fillers are not permanent or lifelong.
Results from laser treatment for acne
It is important to note that different treatments work differently for different scars and skin types. Other factors include age, natural skin turnover speed and the nature of the treatment. It is likely that you will need multiple sessions over a few weeks or months to see visible results from the treatment.
It is also likely that your skin will look slightly red or swollen, especially if you are undergoing laser resurfacing or ablative treatments. But this is temporary, and your skin should look radiant and glowing after.
Is laser acne treatment safe?
Yes, laser acne treatment is FDA-approved and safe for usage on all skin types. Before undergoing laser therapy, you should do your research to find the best dermatologists and clinics available. Additionally, you should inform your doctor of any conditions that might get aggravated by laser treatment like pregnancy, allergies and other existing skin conditions.
If you have been stressing about your acne scars, laser treatment can be the big confidence boost you are seeking. If you find yourself Googling things like ‘does laser scar removal work’, book a consultation with us to see how we can help your skin shine its brightest!