A variety of different treatment options to improve the appearance of acne scarring
As a result of acne, some people experience acne scars which may only become apparent after the acne has settled. Acne scarring can have a negative psychological impact on sufferers and therefore at The London Scar Clinic, we specialise in improving the appearance of scarring.
Depressed acne scars form when there is loss of dermal collagen due to deep seated acne inflammation. These are called atrophic scars and are the commonest type and are further subdivided into rolling, ice pick and boxcar scars. Raised acne scars form when the body produces too much collagen. Raised acne scars generally occur more often among those with darker skin tones.
When acne scars are treated an individualised approach is best as each type requires a different approach to treatment due to the nature of the scar.
Ice pick scars
Ice pick scars tend to be narrow and deep and are best treated with punch excision or localised chemical peeling technique called TCA CROSS. This is a technique in which the individual scar is completely removed surgically or by peeling and the resultant shallow scar is much more amenable to laser treatment afterwards.
Boxcar scars tend to be less deep with sharper shoulders and are often rectangular or round in shape. These scars often respond well to CO2 laser resurfacing or small “punch” excisional procedures.
Rolling scars tend to have the appearance of hills and valleys and can appear as shadows on the skin and can vary in severity. Treatment for severe acne scars often includes an initial procedure called ‘subcision’, in which the scarred tissue underneath is cut, allowing for the release of the tethered scarring. Following this, laser resurfacing is used for optimal results. In some patients, injections with dermal fillers can also help reduce the appearance of the scar and help a little to regenerate the scar.
Acne scarring treatment
The following acne scarring treatments are available, including microneedling, medical grade skin chemical peeling techniques, UltraPulse CO2 laser, Non-ablative fractionated laser (M22), dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, soft tissue fillers, subscision and punch excision.
It is vital that there is no residual inflammatory acne before embarking on scarring treatments, and our dermatologists can help restore your skin prior to recommending scarring treatments.
We pride ourselves on providing personalised plans for our patients, recognising all patients’ personal requirements and delivering a specific pathway to address all your needs individual needs and skin types. The resulting treatments to improve acne scars may be one or a combination of the wide range of treatments we can provide.
UltraPulse CO2 laser
The UltraPulse CO2 laser by Lumenis is considered the ‘gold-standard’ in the treatment of many different conditions, notably the treatment of acne scars. At The London Scar Clinic, we offer some of the most advanced treatments in laser skin resurfacing and dermatology.
The laser inflicts a controlled injury to the skin which then encourages the skin to produce more collagen and stimulate the body’s natural healing processes. The production of collagen leads to the skin surrounding the scars to smooth out, improving the overall appearance of your scars whilst encouraging growth of new skin to create a more even-looking result.
At The London Scar Clinic, UltraPulse CO2 laser treatment is performed under local anaesthetic by one of our expert dermatologists. Laser resurfacing treatments generally require multiple treatments over time in order to achieve lasting results but the CO2 laser acne scar treatment has minimal downtime.
Dermabrasion can help to improve acne scars and smooth the skin surface. It is a surgical procedure which removes the top layers of the skin and debris from the pores clearing the way for new healthy skin growth and a smoother, fresher appearance.
Local anaesthetic is administered during this procedure to manage any discomfort. After the treatment your skin is likely to be very sensitive but this should begin to heal a few days after the treatment and it may take around three months for your skin tone to go back to its original colour.
Microdermabrasion is similar to dermabrasion however it is more gentle. A hand held device is guided over the skin to provide light and gentle abrasion. Microdermabrasion is less intensive than dermabrasion and only removes superficial dead or dying skin cells, while dermabrasion goes deeper and removes some of the layers of the skin that are still viable (alive).
Soft tissue fillers
Soft tissue fillers can help improve the appearance of indented scars by injecting hyaluronic acid or fat, or other substances under the skin. The goal is to make the scars less noticeable, and results are usually temporary, meaning that repeat treatments may be needed to maintain the effect.
Subcision is a minor surgical procedure to improve the appearance of acne scars. It works best for rolling scars and involves the insertion of a hypodermic needle underneath the scar. During this process, the scar tissue underneath is disconnected from the scar lifting the scar and improving the appearance of the scars on the skin surface. In addition to lifting the scar, the needle also leads to increased collagen production as the body tries to heal the area which smooths the skin out, improving the appearance of the scars further.
Punch Excision is a surgical procedure to treat acne scars and works best for ice pick scars. A specific tool (punch biopsy tool) is used which reflects the size of the scar. The tool is used to excise the scar and completely remove it from the skin. Following this, the wound is closed with sutures and allowed time to heal. This can lead to another scar on the skin surface; however, this is much finer and can be improved with laser treatment.