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Do Non Ablative Laser Peels Really Work for Acne Scars?

It seems like any improvement seen is from swelling, micro swelling, and the temporary tautness of the skin after treatment. Do non ablative lasers really improve mild to moderate acne scars by stimulating collagen production to a noticeable level?

Doctor Answers 12

Non-ablative fractional Erbium laser resurfacing does work for acne scars


Acne scars go very deep into the skin and are caused by loss of collagen due to the acne infection.

Improving an acne scar requires the production of new collagen deep in the dermis, to plump the skin.

Ablative lasers and chemical peels do not go deep enough to really improve acne scars.

The non-ablative fractional Erbium laser (Lux1540, Fraxel Restore) can go very deep into the dermis and promote new collagen production to plump acne scars.

You will need multiple treataments 5-6 weeks apart. It can take 6 months to see the final result but it takes that long for the new collagen to form.

This is the only non-surgical method I use to treat acne scars.

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Non ablative lasers Do work for acne scarring

While ablative lasers like erbium , regular Co2, or fractional in various combinations may give the most dramatic results, they all have significant downtime. Our group has treated many hundreds of satisfied acne patients with non ablative lasers. The two most commonly used have been the smooth beam laser and Fraxel repair ( which technically is partially ablative). You need a doctor who is well trained with these lasers and feels comfortable with using the higher energies required to see the desired changes. Our patients are usually quite happy with the results. Other non ablative lasers that we have used include the pulsed dye and the KTP lasers.

Joshua L. Fox, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Palomar for Acne Scars

Palomar (Lux 1540) really makes a difference in the skin. It would be one of best options to treat acne scarring. This treatment penetrates deep into the dermal layer of the skin, so it can rebuild collagen and elastin in the scar tissue.

Mansour Bendago, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Acne scars

Thank you for your question.  We usually treat acne scars with profractional laser.  We have seen significant improvement in the skins tone and texture along with the appearance of the acne scarring.  Our patients have been extremely happy post a few profractional treatments.  The skin, is however, not 100% smooth with no acne scarring.  The skin does, however, improve in texture significantly about 40-50% in improvement.

Do Non Ablative Laser Peels Really Work for Acne Scars?

We use the DOT Co2 Laser Resurfacing in our practice.  This does over several months after the procedure help to re-stimulate collagen production.  It also resurfaces the skin helping to minimize acne scars.

Stuart B. Kincaid, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Successful treatment of acne scars often requires a combination of treatment options.

Successful treatment of acne scars often requires a combination of treatment options to obtain an optimum result.  Non ablative fractional resurfacing will improve mild acne scars after multiple treatments.  More significant scars such as deeper rolling scars, pitted scars, hypertrophic and keloid scars, pigmented and red scars all take a different approach.  It is important to see and expert who understands the best way to treat all of these scar type.  One treatment does not fit all acne scar needs.

Mark Taylor, MD
Salt Lake City Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Do Non Ablative Laser Peels Really Work for Acne Scars?

The acne scars are scars of various shapes and depth. Any collagen stimulation by non-ablative lasers are minimal and the improvement achieved are hardly noticable. Acne scars need to be removed by any means such as surgical dermabrasion, deep chemical peels or Co2 laser in order to get a noticable improvement. Minimal treatments produce minimal results.

Mohsen Tavoussi, MD, DO
Huntington Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Non ablative laser work for acne scars, but ...

fractional Lasers (CO2 or Erbium) are more efficient. There will be more crusting though with these lasers. 

Robert Kasten, MD
Mainz Dermatologic Surgeon

Laser Peels are effective

Laser Peels are an option to improve acne scarring.  However, it is a slow process and require multiple treatments.  Ablative lasers such as profractional or erbium laser resurfacing may be better for acne scars, espcially if the scars are deeper.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Non-ablative lasers very effective for acne scars

Over time, non-ablative laser treatments repair and improve acne scars by the remodeling of collagen under the scars - old collagen is broken down and new collagen formed. This process does take time to occur - typically about 3 months - AND a series of non-ablative treatments are needed to produce enough collagen remodeling to be clinically evident in most scars -so the real improvement seen with the non-ablative lasers can take some time to be apparent. For many acne scars, especially the depressed or rolling type that look worse with shadowing light, the non-ablative fractional erbium laser, Fraxel restore, is my treatment of choice even though I have more aggressive devices that I could use. One of my favorite treatments is to alternate non-ablative smoothbeam treatments with non-ablative Fraxel restore treatments.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.