What is Acne Scarring?
Acne scarring occurs as a result of damaged tissue from acne blemishes that have been present for long periods of time, generally more severe lesions. However, sometimes individuals develop acne scarring from short, minor blemishes. Any untreated acne runs the risk of developing scar tissue, so early and adequate treatment should be the goal. Early intervention is especially critical if a patient has a family history of severe acne or acne scarring.
Types of Acne Scars
- Flat with reddish or brownish discoloration: These forms of scars are easily treated.
- Thickened or raised scars: May occur commonly on the jaw line, back and chest.
- Indented scars: May occur anywhere, but more frequently on temples, cheeks and chin. Their appearance can be sharply punched out (“ice pick scars”), or more gently sloped softer scars.
Acne Scar Treatment
Acne scars can be approached in three main avenues. Methods of treating acne scars become more invasive if the scars are deeper, so it’s important to diagnose and treat acne scarring early. Superficial scarring is usually treated by resurfacing techniques like dermabrasion, laser treatments, and chemical peels. Deeper scaring can be treated with injectable filler agents or the patient’s own tissues through grafting or fat transfers. Deep, thick scars can be separated and removed from the surface of the skin, called subscision.
What are the risks of Treatment?
The risks are technique-dependent. Laser resurfacing may cause persistent pinkness or abnormal pigmentation. Scarring and infection are also possible complications. Filling agents can result in allergy, but very rarely. Side effects are usually temporary. However, not all side effects improve or resolve with time.
Does Photodynamic Therapy Work?
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a type of acne treatment that uses a topical medication applied to the skin along with light treatments. PDT is promising but not quite a reality, and it doesn’t work for everyone. Additionally, most insurance companies don’t cover the treatment for acne.
Photodynamic therapy with topical porphyrin precursor drugs can be a good therapeutic alternative in countries where oral isotretinoin (Accutane) is prohibited such as Japan, in patients with acne refractory to conventional therapies, those with multiple bacterial antibiotic resistance, or those unable or unwilling to use oral Accutane. PDT for acne is an “off label” indication in the USA for treatment of acne. PDT is currently only approved for actinic keratosis.
If you would like to learn more about how to erase your acne scars, contact the Skin & Vein Center today.