People with acne are often told to just wait – “You’ll grow out of it”. This is certainly true eventually, although sometimes it only happens after many years of heartache and shattered confidence. Yet, one thing that you never grow out of is acne scars. Fortunately there is now an enormous range of cosmetic treatments for acne scars, with a process to suit every type of scar and every skin type. Today we go through the full range of acne scar treatments, their suitability for different people and different marks. We’re looking at the range of acne scar treatments in order from the least effective (and usually cheapest and least risky), up to the more effective treatments with greater risks and side effects.
Microdermabrasion (Effectiveness: * )
Microdermabrasion is best used in conjunction with other therapies. It can be useful for acne, but is not particularly effective as an acne scar treatment.
At-home chemical peels (Effectiveness: ** )
Chemical peels, like microdermabrasion, are more effective against acne in its active stages than for remedying scarring. It is low cost but will need to be repeated often.
Medical-grade chemical peels (Effectiveness: *** )
Medical grade chemical peels can be very effective for low grade scarring. They may only need to be repeated once or twice, but they do carry some risk of scarring and the recovery time is far longer than at-home peels.
Dermal fillers (Effectiveness: *** )
Dermal fillers are a mid-range cost, very low risk treatment for deep acne scars. They will also substantially improve the look of an acne scar. However, they are temporary only – you’ll need to keep up the treatments every 6-9 months for the rest of your life.
Subcision (Effectiveness: *** )
Subcision is a great option for single deep scars, but cannot be performed across the whole face. You may need several treatments, but it has a low cost, mid-range recovery time and fairly low risk.
Diode laser (Effectiveness: **** )
There is minimal downtime from this acne scar treatment, but multiple sessions will be needed to help fill in deep scars. The procedure carries very little risk, especially if you are treated in a professional clinic, as the scarred areas are targeted and surrounding skin is spared. Compared to other single-time procedures, diode lasers have a good chance to fill in acne scars with very little associated risk.
Fractional carbon dioxide lasers (Effectiveness: **** )
Fractional carbon dioxide lasers both ablate the surface of the skin (removing the top layers), as well as causing a mild heat injury to the tissue, which stimulates the formation of new collagen which fills in scras.
Skin needling (Effectiveness: *****)
This very effective acne scar treatment has a fairly substantial recovery time, but will show effective improvements for quite some time. The overall risk is quite low compared to the effectiveness of results.
Fully ablative laser resurfacing (Effectiveness: ***** )
This is quite an effective treatment, but don’t let those 5 stars blind you to the major risks that are associated with fully abrading the top layers of your skin. It can also result in permanent scarring or loss of pigmentation in the skin that may look worse than the original scars. Only one acne scar treatment is needed, but it is expensive and you’ll need a fair bit of time off work to recover.