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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 21

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 scarring is one of the most difficult skin issues to treat.   My personal experience with the scion erbium yag laser and its pro fractional treatments are good requiring several treatments over time.  Remember that the acne scarring is often improved significantly but not erased.

Michael K. Kim, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Laser for Acne Scars

Acne scars can be challenging to treat. Certain laser treatments can be very effective for acne scarring, however, it is important to keep in mind the results vary with severity of scars.

Often we use a CO2 laser or the profractional laser, depending on the skin type we are treating. As stated before, results and number of treatments depend on the severity of the scar. Typically, you can expect at the minimum 2-3 treatments and at maximum about 10 treatments. As for downtime, the aggressiveness of the treatment will dictate the amount of time it will take you to completely heal. You should expect between 3 days and 1 week of downtime.

Amir Moradi, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 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
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

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

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 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.

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 19 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.