acne

How To Get Rid Of Acne Scars Fast - Here's What Works

how to get rid of acne scars

Acne is stubborn and tough to get rid of, and you may feel victorious after you've finally managed to get your acne under control! 

However, the side effect of acne that not many people talk about are the acne scars that acne leaves behind.  Acne scars can be tough to deal with, but don't worry, we'll go over many different ways to treat acne scars. 

What Are Acne Scars?

Acne scars can appear due to the damage in collagen caused by acne.  Acne scars are the texture changes, and discoloration that can happen after having acne. Depending on the type of scar, it may remain there for several months, or even years. 

Types Of Acne Scars

Dealing with acne is only half the battle as an inflamed pimple will stretch our collagen fibers over time.  This can lead to long term damage on our skin’s surface. 

types of acne scars infographic

The common types of acne scars are

  • Rolling scars
  • Ice pick scars
  • Boxcar scars
  • Hyperpigmentation 

Out of the above  acne scar types, hyperpigmentation is the one easiest to reduce and some hyperpigmentation can fade on their own even without treatment.  According to dermatologist Dr. Davin Lim, hyperpigmentation and erythema are grade 1 scars - which are flat scars that leave a dark or red mark. 

Hyperpigmentation are the dark spots and discoloration which can range from shades of black, brown, purple, and red and the easiest to treat. 

Boxcar scars are shallow with a strong straight and defined edge. Rolling scars are depressed scars with less of a defined edge or ridge, and ice pick scars are deep and narrow which are more difficult to treat. 

If you have keloid scars, it's best to see a skincare professional to help treat keloids as many typical acne scarring treatments will be contraindicated to treating keloids. 

Acne Marks Versus Acne Scars

What's the difference between acne marks and acne scars?  Acne marks refer to the discoloration or dark spots from post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Most hyperpigmentation can fade on their own although it can take months or years. 

Whereas acne scars are a result of texture change that can be raised or indented that are permanent without treatment.

Acne scars can leave a serious impact on one’s self-confidence. It’s hard for some to look beyond the discoloration and uneven texture after having acne scars, but they can be improved and there are several methods for getting rid of acne scars.

Top Ways To Get Rid of Acne Scars

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Microneedling

Type of scar: rolling scars, boxcar, ice pick scars, and hyperpigmentation.

Microneedling is an acne scar treatment that uses very fine needles to prick the skin to create a controlled injury.

According to dermatologist Dr. Abby Waldman:  

"Microneedling creates tiny holes in the skin to turn on the mechanisms in the skin to make new skin cells, turn over old cells, stimulates collagen and that helps with acne scars"

The great thing about microneedling is that it less invasive compared to laser acne scars treatments and the results are long lasting. 

Microneedling can get rid of acne scars fast and is great for indented or pitted acne scars as well as hyperpigmentation. 

Microneedling promotes the absorption of topical products  so be careful of what products you apply onto the skin after microneedling.  It can be great for absorption of skincare that has trouble penetrating through the skin barrier.   

For an at-home microneedling treatment, use shorter needle sizes that are no longer than 0.5mm and pick a stamp design tool versus a roller. 

Deeper and more aggressive microneedling at be done in office too. 

Take note that the sooner you start treating acne scars, the easier it is to treat them as old scars tend to be more difficult to treat compared to new ones.  

Recommended tool: Banisher 2.0 microneedle tool 

 

Retinoid

Type of scars: hyperpigmentation, minor textured scars 

Retinoids such as retinol, adapalene, tretinoin, or Vitamin A products have been considered a go-to ingredient for both acne scars and acne. 

Retinols promote cell turnover or shedding of dead skin cells and encourage the development of collagen. 

Take note that retinol is not as strong as prescription-strength retinoids so retinol or derivatives of it are what you find in drugstore skincare products. 

You may apply a retinoid once daily for several weeks for you to see improvement in acne scarring.  

A word of warning is that retinoids and its derivatives may cause purging for the first couple of weeks and they can cause irritation to the skin so best to start off slow and use a moisturizer. 

Chemical Peels 

Type of scars: Ice pick, boxcar

Your dermatologist may recommend deeper chemical peels that contain acids with higher concentrations to address moderate scars. 

These peels work in the same way as the kinds you use at home to dissolve the uppermost layers of skin, only that they work on a deeper level.

Deeper peels such as TCA peels should be done by a professional and can improve moderate to severe acne scars with the proper aftercare and with the supervision of a professional.   

Having a series of deep high concentration glycolic acid peels also can show good results for acne scars. 

Be careful not to try these deep peels by yourself, as not all skin types are suitable for this acne scar treatment and it can run the risk of causing more scarring or hyperpigmentation especially for those with darker skin tones. 

You can use skincare products that are made with more gentle acids or lower concentration of exfoliating acids for light acne scarring and discoloration.  Look for ingredients like glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, and salicylic acid. 

Radiofrequency Microneedling or PRP Microneedling

Type of scars: Ice-Pick, Rolling scars, Boxcar Scars

These type of microneedling procedures are done by a professional which use longer needles and numbing cream is commonly applied to numb the skin.  Professional microneedling may be better able to address deep severe scarring.

PRP microneedling is a procedure in the office with a device that injects your own plasma into your skin for the healing properties to heal acne scars. 

RF microneedling combines radiofrequency with LED which uses heat and microneedles together.  The device is handled by a professional. The needles and heat will both break down scar tissue, and stimulate collagen to fill in scars. 

In office microneedling treatment prices may vary, but downtime may take 4-5 days. 

Laser Treatments  

Type of scars: ice pick, boxcar, rolling, dark spots

Most laser treatments work by sending pulses of light that create heat energy to  damage the top layer of skin.  These lasers can induce the wound healing response, so that new tissue and collagen can form in its place. 

Certain types of ablative laser such as co2 laser may not be suitable for darker skin tones as they could increase the risk of hyperpigmentation since darker skin tones contain more melanin. 

Depending on the type of laser, they can treat mild to severe acne scarring.  It requires a consultation with a dermatologist before you can undergo laser resurfacing and a few sessions may be needed to see desired results. 

Non ablative laser treatments such as fraxel dual are less aggressive and may be suitable for skin types that are more prone to scarring or pigmentation issues. 

 

Alpha Hydroxy Acids or Glycolic Acid

Type of scars: hyperpigmentation, discoloration

Glycolic acid is an AHA which stands for alpha hydroxy acid.  This AHA is one of the most effective AHAs and a very popular ingredient for fading acne scars. Glycolic Acid can also get rid of hyperpigmentation, acne, and discoloration.

Glycolic acid is a naturally occurring substance that offers many benefits to the skin such as rejuvenation and exfoliation. Glycolic acid can be found in chemical peels and it is an ingredient in consumer skincare products that most people can tolerate withou much irritation with the right PH, concentration, and frequency of use. This ingredient is also included in the  BANISH Pumpkin Enzyme Masque.

Pumpkin Enzyme Masque

Vitamin C 

Type of scars: hyperpigmentation and dark spots, minor texture. 

Vitamin C is one good source when it comes to getting rid of acne scars for its wound healing, collagen production, and brightening properties. Try to look for vitamin c in the form of l-ascorbic acid, or ascorbic acid.  It's best for discoloration related acne scars. 

Vitamin C is great for treating acne scars as it is responsible for our skin’s  elasticity, collagen synthesis, and it prevents excess melanin production. 

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to prevent acne scars, and Vitamin C applied topically in the form of L-Ascorbic acid has been shown to reduce dark marks as well as stimulate collagen production to heal acne scars.

Apply a Vitamin C Serum daily and try not to apply it at the same time as a retinoid product for optimal effectiveness.  Wear sunscreen daily too for optimal effectiveness on acne scars and hyperpigmentation. 

Vitamin C in it's most effective form, l-ascorbic acid, can be found in the  Banish Vitamin C Serum,  and Vitamin C Creme.

Subscision

Best for: boxcar scars, rolling scars

Subscision is a type of surgery where your doctor will break down the fibers adhering the acne scar down to the deeper layers of skin which is causing the pitted acne scar.   

This type of treatment will require an in person assessment by a dermatologist to check if your scars are tethered down and if it would benefit you.  

Fillers

Best For: If you only a small amount of boxcar or rolling acne scars

Fillers are a type of injection that go under the skin to fill in acne scars.  Only go to a certified practitioner to get fillers done.  When done well, fillers can smooth out the appearance of acne scars.  

Fillers are a temporary acne scar treatment and you may need injections every 6 to 18 months depending on the type of filler you get to maintain the result.   This is best if you only have a few scars and cost ranges on how many units of filler you need.

Rosehip Seed Oil:

Rosehip seed oil treatment after 12 weeks could decrease erythema which is redness, and slightly improve the look of atrophic scarring when applied immediately 

It is believed that the essential fatty acids in rosehip seed oil give the most scar healing and wound healing benefits when applied onto skin. 

 

Niacinamide

Type of scars: Dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Also known as nicotinamide, niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B-3 which is an essential nutrient when it comes to  treating acne scars. Niacinamide works by lightening dark marks, reducing inflammation, and improving tissue regeneration.

While niacinamide may help with dark marks, it may not help with textured or deep acne scars.

Niacinimide is commonly found in many skincare products, even if the products are not directly targeted for acne scarring. 

     

    Natural Remedies For Acne Scars

    If you want to stick with home remedies for your own reasons, natural home remedies to get rid of acne scars could give mixed results and aren't able to show results for deep and pitted acne scars.  

    If your acne scars are limited to mild hyperpigmentation or discoloration, these home remedies could work for you. 

    ALOE VERA

    Aloe is one of the best household products anyone can use to treat their hyperpigmentation. 

    Aloe contains aloesin which has some evidence of destroying melanated cells, and in preventing hyperpigmentation caused by UV radiation.  

    Aloe improves wound healing by strengthening collagen structure.   Aloe Vera has been a popular plant remedy or solution for many skin problems such as acne, so if you are still dealing with acne, aloe vera is fine to use.   

    To Use: Purchase Aloe vera gel and apply onto skin daily. 

    APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

    This fermented vinegar has a lot of useful functions, including fading your acne scars by naturally exfoliating and shedding away dead skin cells. 

    It contains Vitamins A, B2, B6, C, and E along with the natural lactic and malic acids which are responsible for gently exfoliating the skin for a more even-toned complexion.  Dilute it with water so it doesn't cause too much stinging and to help lower the acidity. 

    It takes a lot of patience and consistency to see  positive results, no matter what products or options you choose in treating acne scars. Don’t be afraid to try different options should the first one fail.  You may even need a combination of treatments if your acne scars are on the moderate to severe side. 

    Keep the healing up with some emotional treatment as well. Acne does not only leave with deep physical scarring but emotional scarring too.

    You’re still beautiful with or without acne.

    If you are still struggling with acne scars or need extra guidance, we recommend booking a teledermatology call with dermatologist Dr. Anna Chacon.  She's licensed to practice in the U.S. in all 50 states.  

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    how to get rid of acne scars infographic banish

     References: 

    1. Singh S, Gupta A, Gupta B. Scar free healing mediated by the release of aloe vera and manuka honey from dextran bionanocomposite wound dressings. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018 Dec;120(Pt B):1581-1590. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.09.124. Epub 2018 Sep 21. PMID: 30248422.

    2.Erbağci Z, Akçali C. Biweekly serial glycolic acid peels vs. long-term daily use of topical low-strength glycolic acid in the treatment of atrophic acne scars. Int J Dermatol. 2000 Oct;39(10):789-94. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-4362.2000.00076.x. PMID: 11095203.

    3. Choi S, Lee SK, Kim JE, Chung MH, Park YI. Aloesin inhibits hyperpigmentation induced by UV radiation. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2002 Sep;27(6):513-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2230.2002.01120.x. PMID: 12372097.

    4. Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013 Apr;4(2):143-6. doi: 10.4103/2229-5178.110593. PMID: 23741676; PMCID: PMC3673383.

    5. Valerón-Almazán, P. , Gómez-Duaso, A. , Santana-Molina, N. , García-Bello, M. and Carretero, G. (2015) Evolution of Post-Surgical Scars Treated with Pure Rosehip Seed Oil. Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications5, 161-167. doi: 10.4236/jcdsa.2015.52019.

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    3 comments

    John Navarro

    John Navarro

    Appreciate for your valuable content. It is helpful and gives the reader a useful information.

    venukumari

    venukumari

    Thanks for great information! we are looking forward for more updates. even thanks for specific content for updating our knowledge.

    Jolly Potter

    Jolly Potter

    Extremely grateful for this guide on treating acne scar treatments. You can find similar services at Skinworks Clinic. Skinworks Clinic offers advanced facial, skin consultation, and expert-tailored treatment to help you reduce the appearance of scars, skin pigmentation, as well as sagging skin. Visit our website now for more details.

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