Acne is among the most common skin conditions in the U.S., affecting nearly 17 million people. While most acne clears up by itself or can be controlled, some forms can lead to permanent scarring. This can cause a loss of self-confidence, especially when the scars are prominent in the facial area. However, with today’s technology, acne scars can be revised and improved. While there are several ways to treat acne scars, two of the most popular methods are CO2 laser skin resurfacing and injectable fillers.
Nearly 20-25 percent of people develop acne sometime between the ages of 12 and 25. Up to 20 percent of women develop mild acne. Scarring most commonly results from cystic acne (a localized infection formed when oil ducts become clogged and infected), and when the blemish is irritated by squeezing or touching. Before undergoing scar treatment, it’s important that the patient is free of active acne.
The most common types of acne scars are boxcar, ice pick, and rolling. It’s important to consult an experienced facial plastic surgeon or skincare professional to determine which treatment is best, according to the scar type.
The CO2 laser method, the “gold standard” of laser skin resurfacing, involves the use of an ablative laser to resurface/ plane down the skin, as well as regenerate collagen. The laser penetrates deep into the skin, and new skin and collagen forms, reducing the appearance of the scars. It’s usually performed in the comfort of a physician’s office under local anesthesia or IV sedation, and takes about one hour.
The newer fractional CO2 laser procedures offer many of the benefits of traditional CO2 without a prolinged recovery time. With these fractional CO2 lasers, gradual improvement of the skin is seen following the completion of the initial five-seven day healing phase. The fractional CO2 laser is safe for most skin types, however caution must be taken in darker skin as healing can be prolonged and problems with pigmentation can arise. While the cost of a CO2 laser procedure is typically higher than that of receiving injectable dermal fillers, it offers permanent results.
FDA-approved injectable dermal fillers such as Restylane, Artefill and Radiesse can help “plump up” indentations caused by acne scarring. The procedures raise the surface of the skin and give it a smoother look. Most of these injections do not permanently correct acne scars, so repeat injections are necessary. Artefill is a much longer lasting dermal filler that touts longer lasting/permanent results. suing the more temporary filers such as restylane and radiesse is a good way to “try it on for size” and see if the results meet your goals and is something that you are pleased with prior to taking the more permanent fillers.
The majority of fillers last from six months up to two years. The procedure is usually performed in an office procedure room, and a topical and/or local anesthetic can be used. Patients usually return back to work after the procedure; occasionally, there may be redness or bruising.
Thanks to modern technology, acne scarring can be treated, and does not have to affect one’s self-confidence. As with any medical procedure, it’s important to consult with an experienced, knowledgeable plastic surgeon or skincare professional prior to undergoing any type of acne scarring treatment.