Mayo Clinic: What is the best way to treat acne scars that are
a few years old? How effective and safe are treatments?
variety of treatments can be used to help reduce the
appearance of acne scars. To be most effective, the
inflammatory phase of acne that includes active pimple
formation and redness needs to be resolved before treatment
for scarring begins.
to severe cases of acne can result in scars that cause
discoloration and indentations in the skin. In most cases,
acne scars do improve over time without treatment. Thatís
particularly true of discoloration. Indentations may be more
stubborn and less prone to disappearing on their own.
lasting skin color changes, creams that contain a bleaching
agent can help fade discoloration. These products are
available without a prescription at many drug stores and
pharmacies for you to use at home. Itís also important to
consistently use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on your
face and any other areas of scarring to protect your skin and
minimize contrast in skin color.
scarring that leaves skin indentations, you have a number of
options. Dermatologists are trained in procedures that work to
smooth the skin, which is the goal of these treatments. For
example, laser resurfacing can help improve skin tone and
appearance. For this procedure, a dermatologist uses a laser
to damage the collagen beneath your skin and stimulate the
growth of new, healthier collagen. Other energy-based
procedures, such as pulsed light sources and radiofrequency
devices, also can be used to help make scars less noticeable.
cases, soft tissue fillers, such as collagen or fat, can be
injected under the skin or into indented scars to fill them
out. Injections of botulinum toxin, or Botox, also may be used
around acnes scars to relax the skin, reduce puckering and
improve the skinís overall appearance. Both of these
techniques need to be repeated occasionally to maintain their
severe scarring, your dermatologist may recommend a chemical
peel or dermabrasion. These procedures involve removing the
top layer of skin to eliminate surface scars and make deeper
scars less apparent. Healing and recovery after these
techniques can take several weeks or more.
may be useful in some cases of acne scarring, too. Using a
minor surgical procedure called punch excision, a
dermatologist cuts out individual acne scars and repairs the
wound with stitches or a skin graft. Another technique called
subcision involves inserting needles under the skin to loosen
fibers below a scar to help improve its appearance.
these approaches have been approved for treating acne scars,
but each of them comes with the potential for side effects.
Before you decide on any treatment, review the possible side
effects with your dermatologist. If you have any questions,
donít hesitate to ask.
of these treatments work the same way for everyone. Some
people may see better results with one approach than others
do. In addition, acne scars may require a combination of
treatments to reduce or eliminate them. To determine the best
plan for you, make an appointment to talk with a dermatologist
about the range of treatment options that are available. He or
she can review the risks and benefits of each, and help you
decide whatís appropriate for your situation.