Acne is a common skin affliction that affects millions of people. It occurs when the skin’s pores become blocked with dead cells, bacteria, or excess oil from the sebaceous glands. If not treated effectively, acne can leave behind scars and require treatment. Here at River Region Dermatology & Laser in Montgomery, AL, we take acne scar treatment very seriously. Here, we’ll look at how effective treatments are, the different types of acne scars, and the most common treatments.

How Effective Is Acne Scar Treatment?

Acne scarring is a common skin problem that can be improved or even completely removed with the help of treatments designed for this condition. However, the level of effectiveness depends on the type of scar and the form of treatment.

For example, chemical peels are very effective for acne scars that are not very deep, while dermabrasion can help with more severe scars. Some treatments may take a few sessions to produce the desired result.

What Are the Different Acne Scar Types?

It’s essential to identify the type of scarring before determining a treatment plan. There are three types of scars, as well as several subtypes.

Atrophic Scarring

Hypertrophic scars form just below the top layer of skin tissue and create flat or shallow dips. Usually, these scars are due to acute cases of cystic acne. There are three subtypes of atrophic scars:

Boxcar Scars

These scars are named for their box-like indentations in the skin. Cysts can cause them, but so can diseases like chickenpox and varicella.

Ice Pick Scarring

Ice pick scars are slim depressions that are directed deep into the skin’s surface and are typically located on the cheeks. This type of scarring often takes longer to treat.

Rolling Scars

Rolling scars can be shallow or deep and give the skin a bumpy, uneven appearance. They are often described as wave-like scars.

Hypertrophic or Keloid Scars

These scars are raised and lumpy, not sunken into the skin. They often occur when there is a build-up of scar tissue. Hypertrophic scars are the same size as the cyst that they came from, while Keloid scars are larger.

Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation occurs when there is discoloration of the skin that remains after the acne lesion has healed. It’s usually caused by severe cases of acne or when lesions become infected from picking. This discoloration is not a true scar and will usually fade away on its own without special treatment.

What Are Some Examples of Acne Scar Treatments?

There are several courses of treatment for acne scarring, and the best method will depend on the type of scarring and what your doctor recommends for your specific situation. Here are a few of the most common types of acne scar treatments.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are simple treatments that typically use glycolic or salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin, removing the outer layer. This treatment is best for atrophic scarring and is typically not recommended for deep scars. They also work well on hyperpigmentation.

Microdermabrasion and Dermabrasion

Microdermabrasion involves using a tool to lightly exfoliate the top layers of skin. This treatment is typically administered over several sessions and is great for improving the appearance of boxcar scars. Dermabrasion is a more advanced treatment that involves removing the epidermis to stimulate the growth of new skin. It is a more effective option for deeper scarring.

Laser Therapy

There are two types of laser therapies that can treat acne scars: ablative and nonablative. Ablative therapy removes the top layers of skin and boosts the production of collagen, a protein that helps keep the skin looking healthy. Nonablative laser treatment administers heat that stimulates collagen production deeper in the skin.


Micro-needling is a non-surgical option for improving the texture of damaged skin. The treatment is administered with a pen-like device that has many small needles. The needles make tiny, nearly-invisible punctures in the skin that cause the skin to produce collagen and elastin. This treatment may require multiple appointments to achieve the desired effect.

Are Acne Scars Preventable?

Treating acne as soon as breakouts occur is the best way to prevent scarring. It’s also important to avoid picking at acne as that can cause further infection and inflammation. Topical creams and prescription medications can help mitigate the impact of acne when it occurs. Laser therapy is also an option for more acute cases. For example, we use the Aerolase® Neo to treat all kinds of skin conditions, including acne, pigmented lesions, and hyperpigmentation.

Lifestyle choices can also help prevent acne and scarring. For example, wearing sunscreen regularly, keeping the skin hydrated, and eating a balanced diet can help reduce the frequency and severity of breakouts.

Don’t Let Acne Scars Affect Your Life

These treatments can be extremely beneficial to improving the appearance of acne scars. Sometimes it can be helpful to combine several of these treatments for optimal results. While there is no guarantee that any of these remedies will completely eliminate all signs of acne scarring, they can improve their appearance. Do you need help with acne scar treatment? Contact us today at River Region Dermatology & Laser in Montgomery, AL, and book your consultation!

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