Acne scars can be treated through a variety of methods, though few actually work to fully get rid of acne scars. At best, acne scars can be improved and appear to be less obvious. Because scarring occurs at the surface and deep within the pore, only surgery can truly “remove” an acne scar. However, many other treatments available do significantly reduce the appearance of, and therefore treat, acne scars.
Ways to Treat Acne Scars
There are many ways to treat acne scars that can result in drastic improvement in the appearance of the skin. The most invasive means to treat acne scars involve surgery and medical procedures that must be performed in a doctor’s office. There are also ways to treat scars that allow individuals to treat scars at home without the help of a doctor or dermatologist.
Surgery is the only acne scar treatment option that can truly remove an acne scar entirely. Using a process call excision (or another procedure called punch grafting), a doctor can surgically remove all of the scar tissue. While this does create a new wound and a new scar will likely form, the new scar tissue can be better controlled. Doctors may suture the wound closed, which may leave a small line scar in place of large pock marks where ice pick or box car scars were once present.
Alternatively, surgical removal can be followed by a skin grafting procedure in which the doctor affixes a piece of the patient’s skin onto the new wound, allowing it to bond with the other nearby tissue. This may be used in cases of severe, deep acne scarring.
Another surgical procedure is called subcision. Unlike excision, the doctor only cuts away the connective tissue between the upper scar tissue and the deeper underlying tissue. This allows the body to fill the new void with more collagen, thereby, raising the level of the scar tissue to the same level as the surrounding skin. In some cases, dermatologists will inject a special filler to raise the scar even more. Dermal fillers can be made of silicone, fats, or collagen.
Microdermabrasion and dermabrasion are procedures in which a doctor uses an exfoliating agent to remove excess collagen from the skin’s surface. This is not a common treatment for acne scars that are depressed beneath the surface of the surrounding skin and is more suited for keloid and hypertrophic scars that sit above the skin’s surface layer. (They are often used as cosmetic treatments to help eliminate some minor types of acne.) Individuals may treat acne scars at home, too. Over the counter creams can help to smooth out the skin’s surface and correct the colouring of scar tissue. They can also make the scar tissue more pliable so that it stretches better with the skin and is therefore, less noticeable.
Several home remedies, including those that take advantage of the natural healing properties of aloe, honey, and lemon may help reduce the appearance of acne.