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Hiding the Evidence: Acne Scar Removal

Hiding the Evidence: Acne Scar Removal

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The existence of nearly 28 million acne-related websites testifies to the fact that people want a solution for bad skin. Acne affects adolescents, adults, males, females, celebrities, and non-celebrities alike; even Jessica Simpson, Vanessa Williams, and Elle Macpherson have appeared in ads for products intended to eliminate or prevent zits. However, even after treatment, acne often leaves scars that linger, affecting a person’s appearance and self-confidence. Are there ways to reduce or eliminate the effects of acne to reveal beautiful, radiant skin?

What Is an Acne Scar?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne scars are areas of the skin that have gained or lost tissue while healing after being affected by acne. This process typically results in “ice-pick” scars or thick, raised tissue (“keloids”) that do not disappear. If you have recently wrestled a zit to the ground but still have some lingering redness or inflammation, take comfort: it may not be a scar. You may be experiencing post-inflammatory pigmentation or “pseudo scars,” both of which generally disappear in about 6 to 18 months.

Acne Scar Removal Options

Depending on the level of scarring, dermatologists may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

Dermabrasion– Not to be confused with microdermabrasion, dermabrasion treatments remove shallow skin imperfections, using a rough, diamond-edged wheel to scuff away the top layer of skin. In a few weeks, healthy, unscarred skin forms in its place.

Laser Skin Resurfacing Also effective for surface-level flaws, laser skin resurfacing techniques quickly remove the top layer of skin with great precision and less trauma to the skin than dermabrasion or chemical peels.

Chemical Peels For patients with very mild scars, a chemical peel may be effective. The procedure involves the use of various types of gentle acids to remove the skin’s top, scarred layer, allowing new, healthier skin to take its place.

Augmentation– Patients with deeper scars may benefit from augmentation, in which the dermatologist injects collagen or fat taken from the patient’s own body below the scar, thereby elevating the scar tissue and creating a smoother appearance.

Punch Techniques– “Punch techniques” are aptly named, since they involve punching out and replacing pitted scars with skin grafts, fat, or collagen. Another punch technique, “subcision,” involves loosening the scar tissue from the surrounding skin, around which healthy tissue forms to elevate the depressed area.

To Treat or Not to Treat…

If you are not bothered by the scarring, or are willing to wait to see if the scars fade, it may be best to forego treatment. It is also important to consider these facts: Hollywood images are airbrushed, few people have perfect skin, and other people most likely do not examine your pores as closely as you do. If you pursue dermatological treatment, the degree of scarring will dictate which treatments will be most effective. Finally, a professional’s opinion should be the deciding factor. Ultimately, if the scarring is severe, will respond well to treatment, and has affected your confidence, scar removal may be worth the investment.

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