Acne appears when the skin pores get blocked due to the presence of harmful bacteria, dust particles, sebum and other similar entities. Due to this blockade inflammation occurs and pimples start appearing in the outer skin layer. These pimples are termed as acne and sometimes they can also leave behind scars and marks known as acne scars.
When an acne breakout occurs, the pores of the skin become engorged and inflamed and as a result of this red spots and marks start appearing in your skin. Acne can also result in leaving behind red spots, hyperpigmentation, deep pits and rough patches making your skin look coarse and rough. These scars can have different severity and appearance depending upon how deep your acne was.
How acne is formed?
When the sebaceous glands present on the outer layer of your skin produce oil and as a result the hair follicles get clogged due to this oil. Then the dead skin cells and sebum start accumulating in these pores with the passage of time these materials build up inside these skin pores and clog it. As a result of this whitehead or blackhead appears on the outermost layer of your skin. In these conditions the propionibacterium thrives and multiplies in number causing inflammation on the dermis causing acne problems.
The inflammation develops to such an extent that the hair follicle gets ruptured and the pustule gets filled up with a greenish fluid containing harmful bacteria. When the pimple gets picked, this fluid can spread in areas surrounding the pimple causing more acne breakouts so you must avoid doing it. The acne heals with time but the inflammation leaves behind dead skin cells which for scars and dark marks.
Different types of acne scars
The acne scars are categorized further into five different types mentioned below:
Ice pick scars
These scars are termed as ice pick scars because they appear as if these small holes have been made using an ice pick or some other pointed sharp object. These acne scars extend to the dermis layer and look like an open pore. These scars can be deep as well as shallow.
Ice pick scars are formed when an inflamed blemish reaches skin’s outer layer and when it heals with the passage of time the hair follicle becomes empty and a column like scars appears on the inner surface of your skin.
These scars form as a result of loss of your skin tissues and they appear slightly depressed. This is because of the fact that when the inflamed skin gets healed a hollow area is left on the skin forming a depression. The boxcar acne scars are wider than ice pick scars and the depth and severity of these acne scar types can be determined by the amount of inflammation you have suffered from.
Also referred as rolling hill scars this type of acne scars appear like waves or tiny hills sitting at the top of your skin. These scars are shallow but appear grouped and are formed when the epidermis is pulled from beneath the skin. The pulling occurs due to the fibrous connection between the different layers of skin causing shallow depressions.
Also known as Keloid acne scars these appear rose above the skin’s surface and they look like a bumpy small mass of tissue. These types of scars are caused due to the overproduction of collagen in our bodies and in some cases they can grow larger as well specially if these type of acne scars appear on your torso.
Brown or dark acne spots
The acne scars and spots which appear brown in color are also commonly known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation scars and these scars are produced as a result of the inflammation caused due to acne. The inflammatory components result in triggering the production of melanocytes as a result of which some extra pigment is transferred to the surrounding cells and cause brown spots.
Sometimes the acne marks also appear red, these are known as post inflammatory erythematous and they appear pink or red because f the acne lesions and inflammation. The brown or red acne spots take a long time to disappear and make the skin sensitive as well.
How to known your acne scar type?
As I have already explained how different type of acne looks like so in order to determine which type you have got you must use the angled lighting technique as it can helps you in figuring out the depth and severity of these scars. Some people can also suffer from a combination of these acne scar types which can be very annoying.
Why some people scar and some don’t?
Some people have a natural tendency to suffer from acne scars and scars spots while others may not experience this problem. This depends mostly on your genetics, intensity of your acne problem and the inflammatory response of your skin to acne.
How can we treat acne scars and dark spots?
With the advancement in technology a wide variety of treatments have been devised in order to treat acne scars and make your skin look smoother and flawless. In addition to medical treatments acne scars can also be removed using homemade or natural remedies by applying these remedies consistently for a long period of time.
If you are suffering from acne and acne scars then you must get a detailed examination from your dermatologist so that they can determine which treatment will prove to be effective for your marks and dark spots. Some dermatologists also combine multiple techniques in order to carry out treatment of acne scars and spots.
Medical treatment for acne scar removal
The medical treatments recommended by dermatologists for acne scar and dark spots removal are mentioned below:
Laser treatments for acne scars
Laser treatment is the most common type of treatment for acne scar removal and in this technique a high energy and intensity laser beam is focused on the areas of your skin where scars exist. This laser beam burns the skin literally so that new skin cells can grow in place of the scarred ones. The heat which is produced around the areas where this laser beam falls also helps in the stimulation of collagen production as a result of which a younger and healthier looking skin appears.
The depth of the laser beam is also determined by your dermatologist and depending on how deep these scars are the laser is penetrated to that extent. But the skin specialist must be an expert as these treatments can cause skin hazards if not done correctly and cause damage to your skin.
Laser techniques are generally classified into two different types including:
100 % resurfacing
In this category the whole skin area is treated which leads to open healing and a prolonged recovery time and after the treatment redness is also experienced n your skin. These drawbacks were the reason that fractional laser technique was established.
In this type of laser resurfacing technique tiny columns of skin are targeted by the laser beam and the healthy skin in the surrounding areas remains untouched as a result of which the healthy skin cells are not affected by this treatment. The skin treated by fractional laser resurfacing technique also heals faster and the side effects are also minimal.
Both these laser treatments are quite helpful in treatment of acne scars and can be chosen depending upon the severity of your acne problems and depth of acne scars.
The laser types used in the above mentioned techniques is also categorized into two different types:
CO2 and Erbium
Both CO2 and Erbium laser techniques can be used in both fractional and 100% laser resurfacing techniques but generally erbium techniques are more gently to your skin as compared to CO2. CO2 is more powerful and can prove to be more effective in treatment of acne scars which are deeper. So erbium is used in treatment f acne scars of younger patients suffering from a mild to moderate acne problem and the CO2 technique is recommended for older patient who are suffering from severe acne problems.
How is the laser resurfacing procedure done?
The dermatologist will examine your face with detail and then figure out what type of acne scars you have got and which laser treatment must be applied. Before starting the treatment your acne scars and dark spots are marked and then local anesthesia is applied to these areas of skin where treatment is required. Sometimes a special treatment can also be applied in order to avoid pain and the scarred area is also dressed. After this prep the treatment is started and a laser beam is applied to the affected areas of your skin.
Side effects of laser treatment for acne scars
There can be a few side effects of laser resurfacing procedure which can vary depending upon your skin type. Sometimes you might experience redness on your skin after treatment and this redness can prolong to a few weeks or even months in some cases. Patients who have a history of face flushing or blushing due to the presence of dilated capillaries on their skin specially suffer from post treatment redness.
Another possible side effect includes skin bleaching. Lasers can go too deep inside the skin causing discoloration and pigmentation as a result of it and you might get light patches after getting this treatment. You may also experience swelling, scarring and infection after getting laser resurfacing for acne scar removal.
Downtime for laser treatment
The downtime for this laser resurfacing technique varies from person to person depending upon the depth, aggressiveness and strength of these acne scars and dark spots. In case of fractional laser the recovery time is completed in four to five days and the redness left behind due to these scars also takes three to five weeks for completely healing. In case of 100 % resurfacing technique the downtime is 10 days and the redness takes almost three to four months for completely fading away.
Which types of scars are treated by laser resurfacing techniques?
Laser beam can go deep down into your skin and help you in treating your acne scars. By using this procedure the following types of acne scars can be treated and cured.
- Boxcar scars
- Rolling scars
- Hypertrophic scars
- Ice pick scars
- Brown marks or dark spots
Cost of laser resurfacing methods for acne scar removal
Most laser skin treatments usually cost $4000 to $6000.If you dermatologist has recommended fraxel technique then the cost required for this is relatively lower and generally you will need five to 6 sittings in order to complete the procedure. The total cost is up to $5000 to $6000.
It is a medical procedure for which a tool is used having a abrasive end in order to remove the scarred layer of your skin and encourage the growth of new skin cells. The materials attached to the end of the dermabrasion tool can vary and sometimes it’s a metal wheel or a wire brush. When this tool is turned on the end starts rotating at a very high speed and the dermatologists will gently move this tool over the areas of your skin where acne scars exist.
With the help of this gentle and rapid movement the scarred skin layer is removed and the skin can regenerate. This technique does not reach deep down the skin and only the outermost surface of your skin is removed. The downtown of dermabrasion is relatively shorter as compared to laser resurfacing and it lasts for a few days only. This technique also has minimum side effects and usually swelling is not experienced.
Applying this technique the superficial acne scars and deep acne scars are removed and the texture of the newly grown skin paper younger and smoother. The complexion is also improved as a result of this treatment. The cost per treatment would range from $1500 to $2000.