Your Guide to Laser Treatments for Acne Scars
Guest post by Dr. Shannon York
Very few people get away with not having acne at any point in their lives. Most of us have gone through that phase that has eroded our confidence one way or another. And many have been scarred by it, quite literally.
Acne is bad enough, but acne scars are even worse. Your skin may stop being that prone to acne when you get older, but the scars you got from earlier breakouts tend to stay visible for the rest of your life.
Thankfully, there are now so many options available to help you deal with active acne, including laser acne treatment. And if you have to deal with acne scars, you might want to consider laser treatments for it as well.
Lasers for acne scar removal and how they work
There are two major types of laser that are used in acne scar removal:
Ablative lasers – An ablative laser removes thin layers of damaged skin tissue by melting or vaporizing it. The process results in the erosion of the surface of the scar and the tightening of your skin’s collagen fibers. Because an ablative laser is a wounding laser, recovery times tend to be longer. The results, however, tend to be more impressive than acne scar removal treatments that use non-ablative lasers.
Non-ablative lasers—Unlike its ablative counterpart, a non-ablative laser does not remove thin layers of skin. This non-wounding laser primarily stimulates collagen growth and tightens underlying skin. Many lasers fall under the non-ablative category, including diode and NdYAG lasers.
What to expect during treatment
If you’re undergoing acne scar removal with an ablative laser, expect your doctor to numb your skin with local anesthetics. The laser will essentially burn off the outer layer of the skin and heat the underlying skin. The new skin that’s smoother and tighter will then form as the wound from the laser heals. Depending on the technique and the size of the area being treated, the procedure will take anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours.
For non-ablative laser treatment for your acne scars, your doctor will use a topical anesthetic to numb your skin. The laser will not remove any skin, but it will penetrate beneath it to stimulate the growth of new collagen, which should tighten your skin and improve its appearance. The procedure is typically shorter, taking between 15 minutes and 1 1/2 hours depending on the technique used and the size of the treatment area. However, you may need more than one non-ablative laser treatment to get you long-lasting results.
Things to remember
While the procedure is often referred to as acne scar removal, laser treatment for acne scars does not get rid of them. What it does is make your acne scars less noticeable.
Laser treatments for acne scars should always be performed by board-certified dermatologists, who have been at the forefront of laser scar treatment for a long time. Getting it done by someone who doesn’t have the requisite medical expertise may lead to results that will leave you unsatisfied.
Most importantly, you need to follow the post-procedure instructions of your doctor to the letter. If your treatment used an ablative laser, stay indoors as much as possible because your skin will be swollen, itchy, and raw, and exposure to sunlight could lead to more scars. If you’re experiencing any pain, over-the-counter pain relievers and the application of ice packs can help. Your doctor will also give you specific instructions on how to take care of your skin.
With laser treatments, you can say goodbye to the diminished confidence that comes with acne scarring and enjoy that fresh, improved look that will change your life.
Dr. Shannon York is the Medical Director at Expert Aesthetix in Scottsdale, AZ. She has been working in the field of anti-aging and naturopathic medicine for nearly a decade now. An expert in all aspects of aesthetic medicine, Dr. York specializes in women’s health, injectables, medical weight loss, natural hormone replacement therapy, and anti-aging nutrition.