Scars are Unwelcome Souvenirs of Acne: How to Prevent Acne Scars & How to Reduce the Appearance of Acne Marks
Scars are visible reminders of the pain and trauma of acne. The most effective way to deal with scars is to prevent them from happening in the first place by treating your acne properly from day one.
We often say that once a scar, always a scar. A scar by definition is a permanent deep-seated change in the skin that results from an injury, like a pimple. An injury creates inflammation that damages the surrounding skin. Squeezing and picking, as tempting as they may be, increases the inflammatory response and your chance of scarring. You cannot erase a scar but you can modify it, soften it, or replace one kind of scar with another that’s more easily camouflaged.
Some people are more prone to scarring than others, especially those with family histories of severe, scarring acne. The greater the inflammatory response your body mounts to a pimple, the more likely your skin will heal with a scar. If you have severe inflammatory acne with deep nodules and cysts (more common in men), see a dermatologist so you can treat it aggressively to prevent scarring from occurring. Compared to the face, body breakouts are more likely to scar because the body has fewer hair follicles, which are important for the wound healing process.
Types of Acne Scars, Treatment Options & How to Get Rid of Scars
There are two main types of scars, those caused by an increase in tissue, known as keloids, and those caused by tissue loss, which are shallow saucers or ice pick scars. Keloids occur when the body heals by producing excess collagen, creating thick, fibrous, red brown nodules, often linear in shape and significantly larger than the pimple itself. The most common locations for keloids are the jawline, shoulders, chest and back. Dermatologists treat them with a series of cortisone injections until they flatten, then use a vascular laser to remove the keloid’s red color. After the age of 40, you’re less likely to form keloids—one benefit of aging!
Scars caused by tissue loss result in permanent depressions in the skin that are dell or saucer shaped with either smooth or ragged edges. There are many different treatment options for improving the appearance of these scars. Microdermabrasion can lessen very superficial ones. Deeper and more extensive scarring can be improved with multiple fractional laser treatment sessions. Vascular lasers help to reduce a scar’s redness. Hyaluronic filler injections plump up the depressed center of scars, helping the skin look smoother.
Ice pick scars, usually found on the cheeks, are small, deep holes that can look like gigantic pores. Difficult to treat, ice pick scars usually require surgery followed by a laser resurfacing procedure.
Scars generally become less noticeable over time, blending in with your skin. And some dark spots and marks you may think are scars are not, but actually post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).
The most important reason to treat your acne immediately is to prevent scarring. If, in spite of your best efforts, scarring occurs, see a dermatologist as soon as possible to learn about your treatment options for how to get rid of acne scarring.
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