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Best Treatments for Acne Scarring

Do you all watch Schitt's Creek? It's one of my favorite shows...I've rewatched it probably 6 times. Oh my god DAVID!:)

There's an actor who plays Bob, and he has horrible acne scarring. I SO wish we could get a hold of his face and do some Skin Pen on him!

(Skin Pen is on special this month and can be pre-purchased HERE)!

Acne scars can really affect a person's self esteem. Over my life, I’ve done three rounds of Accutane: at 13, 27, and 33. Somehow I escaped cystic acne without any scars but I know not everyone is so lucky. My mom had terrible acne as a teen and ended up with a fair amount of scarring. It really contributed to low self-esteem. She tried doing some intense laser treatments and strong chemical peels as an adult (this was about 20 years ago), but nothing ever made much of a difference. Acne scars are often deep, and although treating them does take time, there are some great options now.

Skin Care

The easiest and least expensive way is a retinoid. While prescription strength retinoids like Retin-A are used to treat active acne, they are also used to improve skin texture and elasticity, diminish appearance of pore size and lessen fine lines. They stimulate cell turnover and increase collagen production…so if you have acne scarring a retinoid, with consistent use, WILL improve the texture of the scars. Will they all disappear? No. But they will improve. Talk to your provider to see if a prescription strength would be best, or if Skin Better's Alpha Ret would be an option. If you are already using Alpha Ret, you can re-purchase online from Skin Better.

Before moving on from products to procedures that can treat acne, let’s discuss the three main types of acne scars:

Ice pick scars: small, deep holes which can have the appearance of enlarged pores.

Box car scars: Skin indentations or craters and can be shallow or deep.

Rolling scars: broader indentations due to atrophy or loss of the underlying collagen or fat. Rolling scars tend to look better when the skin is stretched tight.

It is common to have more than one type, and each type of scar is treated differently.

My favorite treatment for acne scars is microneedling with Skin Pen. Skin Pen is effective at treating all types of acne scars.

The purpose of microneedling is to stimulate the production of new collagen, using the body’s ability to heal itself. The tiny needles used in microneedling make microscopic channels in the skin, creating controlled wounds and triggering the body’s healing response: it stimulates the skin to regenerate and repair itself naturally. You will need to commit to AT LEAST 3 treatments, and maybe up to 6 treatments to see optimal results. These results are permanent.

Lasers are another option, although they will have more downtown than Skin Pen. Lasers effectively treat box car and rolling scars. All of these skin resurfacing treatments work by the same general principle: creating controlled injuries to the skin and encouraging the body to heal itself through cell turnover and collagen stimulation.

The laser resurfacing treatments we offer are the Nano Laser Peel and the Halo. The Nano Laser is ablative, meaning it will remove the outer layer of skin. The Halo is a hybrid laser and works in two ways: it has an ablative portion just like the Nano, but it also has a non-ablative portion which targets the deeper layers of skin, encouraging collage stimulation without having to damage all the outerlying tissue around those areas (like old school laser treatments that required weeks of downtime).

Picture it like this: the ablative portion is what removes the top layer of skin and gets the skin cells regenerating more quickly. This is what causes all the peeling, redness, flakiness and sometimes swelling. The non-ablative portion of the laser makes tiny channels into the deeper layers of skin to stimulate regeneration of the underlying collagen (think what a yard looks like when it is aerated). The results you see more quickly are from the ablative portion: your skin looks fresher, pinker, smoother and more vibrant. The results you will see a few months after your treatment (from the non-ablative portion) will be skin that is more plump, with more elasticity, like youthful skin.


Dermal fillers are an option for rolling scars. There are several fillers that can be used for acne scarring, one of which is Bellafill. It is a semi-permanent filler with an FDA-approval to treat acne scars. It has been proven to last up to 5 years. For larger areas of scarring, subcision can be done before the filler is injected, to help lift the indentations. Other fillers that can be used will last 6 months to about 1 year.

Honestly the best results I’ve seen for improving acne scars are with microneedling. It doesn’t provide that instant result like fillers do, but in my opinion, it is the most effective in the long term. Plus, downtime is fairly minimal: about 2-3 days of redness, followed by some dryness. Not bad for a permanent solution to diminishing acne scarring!

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