Laser acne scar removal is one treatment option for shallow scars from acne. It does not work as well on deep scars. In laser surgery for acne scars, a hand-held laser (like a wand) is used to burn off the scarred skin cells. Fresh new skin cells then replace the burned-off ones.
Benefits of Laser Surgery for Acne Scars
The lasers used for laser acne scar removal are very precise, allowing the dermatologist or plastic surgeon to target only the affected skin and leave any healthy, unscarred skin alone. This may be preferable to some other methods commonly used to treat shallow scars, like chemical peels and dermabrasion, because those methods remove the entire top layer of skin, scarred and unscarred.
Laser treatments for scars from acne may also be preferable to treatments like dermabrasion because they are much less painful. Dermabrasion usually causes significant bleeding of the face (or other area treated). While local anesthetic is usually used during the procedure, the treated skin is usually quite tender afterward. Laser treatments are somewhat irritating to the skin and may cause redness or crustiness afterward for a while, but they are far less irritating than dermabrasion or chemical peels.
Laser acne scar removal is pretty effective for shallow scars. However, multiple treatments may be required.
Risks of Laser Surgery for Acne Scars
While laser treatments for acne scars are less irritating to the skin than some other treatments, like dermabrasion and chemical peels, they are still somewhat irritating. Your skin may be red and crusty for a while. It may be sore. You may experience some bruising.
Allergic-type reactions can occur. These are usually easily treated with medicated creams
Infections may also occur. These can be treated with medicated creams and/or with oral antibiotics.
Both hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) and hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin) can occur with laser treatments. To help prevent this, you should avoid direct exposure to sunlight for a couple of weeks after a laser treatment.
The Cost of Laser Surgery for Acne Scars
Laser surgery for acne scars usually costs around $3000 per treatment, although you can certainly shop around for a better price. Make sure you’re choosing a qualified practitioner, though. Don’t sacrifice quality in order to save a few bucks. Remember that multiple treatments are usually required, so the cost can add up quickly. Health insurance policies usually won’t cover laser acne scar removal, since it’s a cosmetic procedure and not medically necessary.
Alternatives to Laser Acne Scar Removal
There are a number of alternatives to laser treatments for the removal of scars from acne. As mentioned earlier, there are chemical peels and dermabrasion. Both of these procedures remove the top layer of skin, revealing fresh, new skin underneath. Multiple treatments are usually required.
For deep scars, a punch technique is usually used. A punch tool, like those used to do skin biopsies, is used to remove the scar. Then the wound is sutured, or a skin graft from elsewhere on the body can be used to fill the hole.
There are a number of over-the-counter products that can help treat scars from acne, some of which are more effective than others. These products are certainly less costly than laser treatments or other medical procedures, and they are usually gentler on the skin, too. It seems reasonable to at least try one of these products before undergoing something like laser treatments. You can talk to a dermatologist if you’d like advice about what products to try first.
Of course, it would be a good idea to talk to a dermatologist or plastic surgeon about all your options for treating scars. He or she can help you decide the best method for you.