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Laser Resurfacing for Acne Scars

How effective is Laser resurfacing for clearing acne scars? I don't really care about the downtime, but the cosmetic results are very important. What number of treatments do you recommend? I'd prefer if I only have to get it done once.

Doctor Answers 19

Depends on scars

If you have box car scars, and type one or two skin- fair skin, then laser resurfacing is THE treatment of choice. Shallow scars can be removed almost completely in one session, with safety and efficacy. If you have a mixture of scars you may need other treatments. Eg. Ice pick scars respond better to procedures such as simple TCA CROSS or even punch excision. 

The type of scar treatment that BEST SUITS YOU will depend on 3 factors only-

1. Acne scar type
2 .Downtime
3. You skin type or colour. 

Hope this helps.

Dr Davin Lim
Laser Dermatologist
Brisbane, Gold Coast

Brisbane Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Have a question? Ask a doctor

Acne Scars

Unfortunately there is no "miracle" quick fix for acne scars.  Profractional Laser Resurfacing can be a very effective method for minimizing and diminishing acne scars.  This procedure is also safe for most skin types.  It usually requires 5-7 treatments depending on the severity of the scarring and only has 2 - 5 days down time.  The cost is also substantially less than other laser resurfacing such as Co2.


Dr. Rodgers

Laser resurfacing for acne scars

We are treating acne scars with different modalities,

For regular, boxcar acne scars, we use either the traditional CO2 Laser (7-9 days downtime)  or the fractionated CO2 laser (2-3 days downtime).  Usually 2-3 treatments with the fractionated laser are equivalent to one  traditional laser treatment.

For large, deep boxcar scars, we use punch elevation followed by CO2 laser resurfacing (traditional or fractionated).

For ice pick scars, we use Chemical Reduction Of Scars (CROS) with Trichloracetic acid.

For rolling scars we use subcision followed by injection of Sculptra.

In some cases we use a permanent filler such as Artefill

Often we use a combination of these modalities in the same patient.

It is important that you be treated by a Board Certified Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon.


Eugene Mandrea, MD
Chicago Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Acne scars

Laser skin resurfacing using a CO2 laser or an Erbium glass laser are both effective at treating acne scars. Combining the laser resurfacing with dermal fillers will help improve depressed or atrophic scars. 

Jose E. Barrera, MD, FACS
San Antonio Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Laser for Acne Scarring

I love the results of the C02 laser  for any of my patients who have acne scarring. However, if you are looking for a laser option with less downtime and don't have the need for an aggressive treatment, then AFT (next generation IPL) can work wonders too.

Cory Torgerson, MD, PhD, FRCSC
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Laser Resurfacing for Acne Scars

Laser treatment for acne scarring can be effective in some patients:
  • Acne scarring can vary substantially in severity, and laser resurfacing will generally improve acne scarring however not offer a complete cure
  • Laser resurfacing is only suitable for lighter skin pigmentation, darker ethnicities are not suited to laser resurfacing as there is an increased risk of scarring and darker pigmentation after treatment
  • Additional treatments may be required to improve acne scarring including the use of volumetric fillers to elevate deep scars. In addition deep scars may require undermining, subcision, punch excision or other surgical techniques to give the best results.
Laser resurfacing can be effective in improving the appearance of the skin and it requires a comprehensive assessment to evaluate the type and severity of acne scarring and if additional treatments are required to enhance the results, and a discussion about expectations from treatment. 

Lasers for acne scarring

Lasers can be used very effectively for acne scarring, in particular ablative lasers. Patients have told me that I have transformed their lives with acne scar treatments using some of these lasers. Not everyone will always get life changing results but with time and the right procedures almost all scars can be improved and frequently significantly. Some techniques such as fillers / chemical peels/ lasers/ surgery can be used synergistically to create an optimal result.

Shawn Allen, MD
Boulder Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Acne scars require customized approach for best results

In my office, Charlotte Skin & Laser, I use a variety of treatments to best treat acme scars - often several different treatment methods in the same patient in either the same or separate sessions. These can include lasers, undermining or subcision, punch excision, TCA to ice pick scars, fillers or injections for raised areas. The most often utilized lasers are the vbeam for red scars and the non-ablative Fraxel restore.

Fraxel For Acne Scars

Thank you for your question. At my practice, I have gotten excellent results for scarring with Fraxel. This treatment eliminates irregular skin discoloration, and stimulates new collagen production, tightening the skin without prolonged recovery. After a series of 2 to 4 Fraxel treatments, the cumulative cosmetic improvement is near more aggressive lasers, but unlike more aggressive lasers, redness and swelling eliminated within 2 to 4 days after each treatment. Fraxel is outstanding for fine wrinkles, mild skin laxity, irregular pigmentation, acne scars, surgical scars, enlarged pores, stretch marks, age spots and Rosacea. It can be used safely on the face, neck, hands, arms, and chest.

Laser Resurfacing effective for Acne Scars

The number of recommended treatments is completely dependent on the severity of your acne scars. We recommend anywhere from 1-6 treatments of Pixel, which is a resurfacing laser that targets skin texture. 

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

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.