By Mei Tsuruta
There are generally two types of acne scarring: hypertrophic scarring, which is characterized by raised lumps of scar tissue where an acne lesion was, and atrophic scarring, which is characterized by small depressions in the skin due to a loss of collagen. Depending on the shape of atrophic scars, these are further classified as rolling, icepick, or boxcar scars.
There is also hyperpigmentation which is a type of scar too, but generally can fade on it's own although it may take years to fade and it is characterized as a flat pigmented spot on your skin.
Although I’ve gotten my acne under control in the past year, unfortunately for me, I’m left with boxcar scars in the hollows of my cheeks. Atrophic scarring is quite difficult to treat, and costly treatments such as the TCA cross method are not 100% guaranteed to make your skin look as you expect it to.
For those of us with acne, skin care to achieve our once pristine complexions is a long journey and difficult to accept, as it may never be completely smooth again, depending on the severity of the scarring.
Obviously the best way to prevent scarring is to treat the acne as soon as possible, with absolutely NO PICKING. When treating your acne, be as gentle as possible. This means on top of no picking, popping, or squeezing, don’t wash your face more than a couple times a day, don’t over-exfoliate, and above all, don’t get too frustrated. After all, frustration leads to more stress, which in turn reflects in the state of your skin.
For depressed acne scars, surgery is commonly performed by a dermatologist to create a less noticeable scar, which hopefully fades over time. In this process, the scar is lifted closer to the surface of the skin to make it less noticeable.
An alternate method may involve the breaking up of scar tissue. To address more widespread scarring, a dermatologist may perform resurfacing (which removes layers of skin and allows the body to produce new skin cells), skin fillers, micro-needling, or skin tightening.
The type of surgery recommended by a dermatologist depends on the severity and type of scar, from deep ice pick scars to raised hypertrophic scars. As we age, acne scars tend to become more noticeable because our skin doesn’t produce as much collagen. It’s easy to forget the long-term consequences of popping those stubborn pimples, but the best way to ensure the long-lasting health and appearance of our skin is to take the time every day to treat our skin right. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!