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Acne Scars – The Whys and Hows

Scars left behind by acne are the most common skin problem seen here at The Retreat Clinic. Acne is inflammation caused by bacteria & excess oil. This inflammation causes intense collagen damage which in turn causes scarring. Scars are part of the healing process of any injury on our body. When you get a cut or a pimple, scars may form and the severity of the scar is dependent on a few factors.

What Does an Acne Scar Look Like?

Acne scars develop in areas where former cystic blemish lesions have been present. Acne scars come in three varieties;

  • Atrophic, which are mostly shallow
  • Boxcar-shaped
  • Ice pick-shaped, which are narrow and deeper.

People with deeper skin tones may also notice darkening (or hyperpigmentation) within the scars, while people with lighter skin tones may show redness (or erythema) within the scars.

Acne Scars can come in 3 varieties and each have their optimal treatment plan

Acne Scars come in 3 varieties and each have their optimal treatment plan

What Makes Acne Worse?

1. Sun Exposure

Exposing scars to the sun can cause them to darken and slow the healing process. How? Ultraviolet rays stimulate melanocytes (pigment-producing cells), leading to further discoloration. Your safest bet: Before heading outdoors, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher (like this awesome UV Armour) that contains the ingredient zinc oxide. Also, limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and wearing protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat, are also recommended.

2. Picking and Squeezing

Scars, which are made mainly of collagen (a protein fiber normally found in the skin’s second layer), are the body’s way of repairing itself. Acne scars are typically indented because of collagen loss from intense inflammation. Picking leads to further inflammation and injury of the skin, which adds to the skin’s discoloration and scarring. Squeezing or trying to pop a pimple causes pus and bacteria to filter deeper into the skin, resulting in more collagen damage.

3. Vitamin E

You may have heard that applying topical vitamin E to a scar will help it heal faster. But according to a study from researchers at the University of Miami, applying the nutrient directly onto a scar can actually hinder its healing. In the study, vitamin E had no effect (or made matters worse) for 90% of the patients, and 33% who used topical vitamin E developed contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction. So don’t put Vitamin E creams on your scars!

What Makes Acne Scars Better?

1. Remove the Source

The source of acne scars is obvious. We need to first reduce acne occurrence if you are still getting acne outbreak. This can be easily achieved with a combination of lasers, gels, peels, facial treatments, antibiotics & of course isotretinoin. It is important to reduce the occurrence because otherwise, more scars will form.

With proper treatment, acne scars & blemishes can fade especially when treatment combines antibiotics, lasers, & facial treatments

With proper treatment, acne scars & blemishes can fade especially when treatment combines antibiotics, lasers, & facial treatments

2. Patience

The main key to seeing acne scars fade is patience. A few weeks after you break out and subsequently scar, new blood vessels move into the injured area to provide nourishment to the skin, which is why most early scars look pink. Months later, collagen (the building blocks of the skin) start to reform, filling in the injured section of skin. Because cystic acne destroys skin and fat, it can take up to a year for the scars to fade.

3. Laser and Filler Treatments

If your acne scars don’t fade away on their own, it may be time to consider other avenues of treatment. Within three sessions, laser skin resurfacing using fractionated laser technology can even out the skin surface and increase new collagen formation to help fill in acne scars.

Non-ablative lasers stimulate the production of collagen without damaging the skin’s surface. Meanwhile, ablative lasers (i.e. CO2 and erbium) vaporize the scar, allowing smoother skin to take its place. However, ablative lasers have a tendency to cause Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation in darker skinned individuals.

At The Retreat Clinic, we have our proprietary Scar Eraser treatment which uses fractionated radio frequency allowing the laser to reach deep down into the dermis (deeper layer of skin) and promote collagen. Studies have shown that fractionated radio frequency is a safer alternative to CO2 lasers as they cause minimal damage to the superficial skin but maximum collagen renewal deep down in the dermis. Our Scar Eraser also comes with reduced downtime and patients can apply make up/foundation to cover up the micro dots left behind by the laser 24 hours after undergoing the procedure. With a CO2 laser, patients are to refrain from applying any skin care product for at least 72 hours!

Dermal Changes After Scar Eraser

Changes can be seen as soon as 4 days after just 1 treatment of Scar Eraser

Dermal filler injections can also prove beneficial at filling in the indentations left behind from deep acne scars. Treatment with dermal fillers are best done along with laser treatment to get the best and optimal results. With the latest dermal fillers such as Juvederm Volbella, the texture of the filler is very soft and this allows superficial injecting of dermal fillers without any adverse reaction. These latest dermal fillers also last beyond a year and the best part is that after injecting dermal fillers, collagen is also stimulated and although the fillers are not permanent, the results are long lasting and get better with time. While injecting dermal fillers, we also perform a simple procedure called subcision which frees up all the fibrous bands (sticky tissue which holds your scars down) and this also helps to flatten scars and make them more shallow.

Before & After Scar Eraser

Scars can be significantly smoothened with multiple sessions of laser treatments combined with the right dermal fillers

So do you have any scars that need to be erased?

If you need more info or you would like to book your appointment today just click here for more info!

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