Getting Rid of Old Acne Scars

December 23, 2015

Acne is a condition that we’ve all endured as teenagers. Even though acne clears up for many people when they reach adulthood, some people have traces of acne in the form of depressed or raised scars and discoloration. With today’s technology, there are several different dermatological techniques that can make skin look smoother and more evenly toned.

Medical technology has exponentially improved in recent times and its application in cosmetic procedures has become popular. Even though lingering acne scars and irregular pigmentation can fade to a certain degree with time, skin treatments such as lasers, chemicals peels, fillers, and abrasives can treat these unwanted markings and significantly improve the appearance of stubborn acne scars.

Laser therapy

Non-Ablative Laser Resurfacing and Intense Pulse Light Treatment are the therapies used to treat discoloration by acne. By using light energy and corresponding wavelengths, these treatments target the irregular discoloration or damaged skin and gradually cause it to fade. Pulsed Dye Laser Therapy is used specifically to reduce the redness of red marks left behind by acne, as well as reduce the vascularity of larger raised scars such as keloids or hypertrophic scars. Erbium Yag Laser Resurfacing helps for both acne discoloration and deep acne scarring, by stimulating your body's own natural healing process, replacing the old and damaged cells with fresh, glowing, healthy skin.

Chemical peel

A chemical peel is one way to treat discoloration, uneven pigmentation, and minor scarring. The chemicals chosen, the amount used, and the length of treatment is based on your skin’s underlying problem and how deep the treatment is needed. As the effect takes places, the dermatologist will watch the subtle changes in improvement and remove the chemicals when the effects have been reached, typically within a few minutes.


Fillers are used to raise atrophic (depressed) scars such as boxcar or rolling acne scars. One method is to inject synthetic hyaluronic acid (HA), using a very fine needle around the edges of the scar and underneath the skin. This causes the scar to plump up from below with the goal that it becomes flush or nearly flush with the surrounding skin. This technique is temporary because the body absorbs the collagen fillers after several months to 2 years. Patients will have to return to their dermatologist for regular treatment unless they are given the option to use a longer lasting permanent filler.

Thick, raised acne scars can be treated with different chemicals, commonly corticosteroids, which are injected directly into the scar and cause the scar tissue to break down. After several rounds of injections, this technique will flatten or soften the scar.

Speak with a specialist

Keep in mind that some acne discoloration and scar removal techniques take several series of treatments or a combination of treatments to achieve the best results. Additionally, what may work well on darker skin may not work well on lighter skin and vice versa. As a last resort, very minor in-office surgeries that require local anesthesia can be performed to minimize the appearance of scars. Speak with a skin care specialist to get treatment recommendation best suited for you.

By Dr. Nussra Wongrattanapasson, Dermatologist, Skin Center, Bumrungrad Hospital

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