Treating Patients with Acne and Acne Scars

Acne is a terrible condition that affects upwards of 50 million Americans every year and 85% of teens and young adults. Patients will often come to their practitioners looking for ways to not only treat their acne but then treat the scars that are left behind.

A lot of times, acne treatment is focused on skin repair after the fact. However, the best treatment option is prevention. We as practitioners should be focused on helping patients treat and manage their acne before scars develop. Especially if a patient comes in looking for injections or fillers and they are struggling with acne, treating their acne should come before treating wrinkles or lines.

These are some of the most common ways to help treat your patient’s acne scars:

Dermabrasion: This is a procedure involving a rotating, exfoliating device that basically removes the skin’s top layers in order to give the skin a smoother appearance. A topical numbing cream or anesthesia may be administered to minimize discomfort and you can return home immediately after the procedure, but it will take a few weeks for your skin to heal. Your doctor will instruct you on how to change dressings, cover the treated area, and which products to use. Redness, swelling, burning and tingling sensations may occur. Microdermabrasion is a less invasive option that does not require numbing and has a quicker recovery time.

Chemical Peels: A chemical peel also removes that top layer of skin by using certain chemicals. The chemicals cause the top layer of skin to exfoliate and eventually peel off. There are many different types of chemical peels that can be used, depending on your skin type and the severity of your acne scars.

Laser Therapy: Laser therapy or intense pulse light (IPL) uses short pulses of micro-fine laser light to reach deeply into the skin’s top layer. The body sweeps away the damaged tissue and rebuilds with new collagen, promoting a smoother skin appearance. There is no downtime involved but multiple treatments may be needed in order to achieve desired results.

Dermal Fillers: Dermal fillers such as Belotero, Restylane, or Juvederm can be used to lift depressed scars. Acne scars are just like any type of scar and usually have dermal attachments that need to be released prior to filling.  If the dermal attachments are not released, the filler will follow the path of least resistance and will go around the scar. To release the attachments, simply insert the needle below the scar and make a back and forth movement of the needle.  When the needle moves freely, the dermal attachments are released and the filler can be injected to lift the scar. The effect is almost immediate and there is little to no downtime, but effects are temporary, so multiple treatments will be needed. Any type of “injury” to the skin, such as an injection, will help stimulate the collagen in general and help the appearance of your skin.

If a patient comes to you looking to treat their acne scars, there are multiple ways to do so depending on the patient and the severity of their scars. Every patient is different. It is also imperative that we look at preventing and treating acne before scarring actually occurs.