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Can Laser Treatments Really Help Reduce Acne Scars?

laser for acne scars

Acne scarring can be a source of self-consciousness for many. Thankfully, treatment is available and can help minimize the appearance of scarring. Laser skin resurfacing is often used successfully to eliminate or reduce acne scars, whether they’re on the face, chest, back, or other areas. 

How do acne scars form?

Acne scars are a form of deep scarring that occur when acne damages the tissues in the skin. There are many types of acne scars, but they are often either depressed scars (pitting in the skin) or raised scars (caused by too much collagen production during the healing process). Your doctor can help you determine which kind you have and which type of treatment your particular scarring will respond well to. These treatments range from relatively simple to very involved.

Laser treatment for acne scars — How does it work? 

Laser skin resurfacing is an effective scar treatment option for many types of acne scarring. It works through two mechanisms, both of which contribute to the overall appearance of scarring on the skin. It works by first removing the top layer of skin through a pulsating laser. This is just the top layer of skin — the epidermis — but greatly improves the appearance of the scar. At the same time, the next level of skin (the dermis) is heated. This heating stimulates the skin to ramp up production of collagen, a naturally occurring substance within the skin that contributes to a healthy appearance and improved elasticity. This new skin growing in the place of the skin removed on the epidermis is smoother, firmer (which is why many like laser skin resurfacing for anti-aging purposes as well!), and more evenly pigmented. 

Does acne scar laser treatment hurt?

Acne scar laser treatment should not cause any pain. Topical anesthesia is often used before the procedure. You may feel some warmth as the laser heats the skin, but that should only be uncomfortable at most, not painful. Some laser skin resurfacing tools use cooling mechanisms in order to keep you comfortable. Damp towels can also be used to cool down the skin during the laser skin resurfacing procedure for your comfort. 

Can ActiveFX and DeepFX help with acne scarring?

ActiveFX and DeepFX are two types of laser skin resurfacing. ActiveFX focuses on the overall skin of the target area (face, chest, etc.), targeting fine lines, wrinkles, and scarring. DeepFX targets deeper wrinkles and folds in the skin. So ActiveFX is often what’s used for acne scarring. However, DeepFX can be used for deep scarring. Your doctor will determine which type is best for your particular case of acne scarring. You can learn more about whether DeepFX may be right for you by checking out our blog post on the subject here.

Before and after tips for laser treatment for acne scars

Before: Avoid anything that can irritate the skin and make it more sensitive. This includes shaving, waxing, using skincare products that contain retinol, and receiving any other cosmetic procedures in the area unless your doctor recommends them.

After: You’ll be able to go right back to your normal activities, but avoid sun exposure for a few days after your laser treatment for acne scarring. You may need to avoid wearing sunscreen for a few days depending on your doctor’s orders. If you have to go out in the sun, try to stay in the shade and wear a wide-brimmed hat. Once the redness clears up, you should continue a good sun care skin routine, even in the winter.

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