If your acne has finally cleared up, then you may be left with scarring that keeps you from finally feeling happy about the appearance of your skin. Thankfully, with the help of a dermatologist, you can get rid of all types of acne scarring today fairly easily, including depressed scars that used to be very difficult to treat. Read on to find out what type of scarring you have based on the appearance of your skin and what treatments can get rid of it quickly.
1. Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation
Post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation is extremely common after acne subsides, but thankfully, it is the easiest to treat. Often called PIH, these dark marks left after acne heals are not actually scars, but deposits of excess skin melanin that your body's defense mechanisms sent to the area of inflamed acne. These marks will often fade on their own with time, but they can take from a few months to a year to fade.
There are several products your dermatologist can prescribe for you to use at home, and the most commonly prescribed medications are tretinoin, azelaic acid, and prescription-strength hydroquinone.
Tretinoin works by speeding up your skin's natural cycle of renewing itself, called cell turnover, and this leads to your old, pigmented skin being replaced by new even-toned skin more quickly than usual. Hydroquninone helps break down the pigment in the spots. Azelaic acid is an anti-tyrosinase medication, which means it stops melanin from being created, but it has also been shown in studies to help erase existing pigmentation as well as hydroquinone or even more quickly in some people. It is a natural component of wheat, barley, and rye, which makes it a great option if you like natural products.
All treatments are available in cream or gel form and at several different strengths. If your skin is not too sensitive to using both, your dermatologist may prescribe tretinoin along with either azelaic acid or hydroquinone to get rid of your pigmentation very quickly. The great news is that if you still have some active acne or are worried you will get it again, both tretinoin and azelaic acid also help prevent new acne from forming.
2. Atrophic Scarring
If you have scars that look depressed or sunken in, then you have atrophic scarring. There are many sub-types of this type of scar with different names like pitted scars, ice-pick scars, or box scars. The sub-types just describe the shape of the scars, but they are all atrophic forms of scars. This is true scarring and will be permanent without treatment. However, treatment today is easier than in the past.
For shallow atrophic scars, your dermatologist may first recommend that you try tretinoin and/or chemical peels to see how you scars react when your skin is forced to renew itself more quickly. Chemical peels remove the damaged surface of your skin to allow your body to replace it with healthy skin. This may be all you need to do with shallow scars, but deeper or more stubborn ones may need additional treatment.
Micro-needling is a modern, effective way to force your skin to fill in atrophic scars with new skin tissue. Also called "collagen induction therapy", a doctor performs it by taking a small roller covered in tiny needles that are very short. Your skin is numbed, and then the doctor simply rolls the areas of scarring creating tiny holes in the surface of your skin. This kicks in your skin's natural healing process and make it produce new collagen to fill in the scars. It only needs to be performed once a month, and your doctor may apply a special healing serum or ointment afterwards to encourage even and successful results. It usually takes a few sessions before scars are filled in completely with new tissue.
If your acne has cleared up, but you are left with scarring, then realize that you can get rid of the scars and finally have skin you love without invasive surgery. A good dermatologist can help you get rid of the scars quickly and relatively simply using today's modern skin-regenerating techniques. For more information, contact Scott Callahan MD or a similar medical professional.