5 Ways to Reduce the Signs of Acne

K. Mathews on 20 Jan 2014 at 9:00am

The acne from your teenage years may be long gone, but that doesn’t mean the signs aren’t still there. Fortunately, acne scars – the bane of many an adult face – are treatable in a number of different ways. Here are 5 doctor and patient recommended ways to reduce the signs of acne scarring:

1. Fraxel Repair

Fraxel Repair is a CO2 laser that treats the skin. According to dermatologist Dr. Mona Foad, Fraxel Repair requires less downtime than other procedures, but more treatments (typically four or five) overall to bring about results.

RealSelf member Office Lase explained that the laser “created small holes deep into my skin which healed, making the skin tighter and the scars less.” His pictures show a big improvement:

Fraxel before and afterFraxel repair results

2. TCA Peel

TCA Peel is a chemical peel used to resurface the skin. While a chemical peel can treat a variety of issues, doctors particularly see a benefit for taking care of medium-depth acne scars. Since the concentration of a TCA peel can be altered, it can be customized to best take care of the scarring.

Two years following a TCA Peel, Battlescarred says that while his complexion didn’t stay as amazing as it initially did, he is impressed with how the scar repair has held up. “A benefit to the peel was removing some pigmentation that surrounded the scarring that I felt amplified the scar’s depth,” he says. His results:

TCA peel before and afterTCA peel before and after

3. Punch Excision

“Despite many advances in lasers and chemical peels over the years” Dr. Raffy Karamanoukian is still a fan of punch excision. As he and others doctors see it, when it comes to deeper - also known as ice pick – scars, nothing else quite does the trick.

After having no luck with Fraxel, Jets11 tried Punch Excision and is this time “pleased with the texture.” He adds that photos don’t show the improvement as significantly as he sees it with his own eyes.

Check out the difference a scar excision can make:

scar excision before and after

4. Retin-A

Retin-A is a Vitamin A product that promotes skin cell turnover to get rid of acne. Recently, patients have taken to using the drug to treat acne scars as well. Doctors caution that patients with deep scars shouldn’t bother, however, as Retin-A only seems to improve superficial scars. But those whose primary concern is to correct a pigmentation change resulting from acne scars may find the topical ointment quite useful.

Dolphins21 has made Retin-A a regular part of her beauty routine. “I now can buck up to the mirror and like what I see as far as texture and smoothness,” she says. The smooth skin in her picture seems to say it all:

Retin-A results

5. Injectable Fillers

Fillers are injected into the skin to fill in any indentions such as a scar. "For atrophic scars, we use saline injections or a hyaluronic acid filler normally," says Dr. David Sire. "If there is deeper tissue loss sometimes a volume filler like Sculptra or Radiesse is used." No matter the choice, be warned: the results are temporary so the scars will reappear in a few months to a year.

Nicole936's doctor used Radiesse to treat the acne scars on her cheeks and says she has "never felt so proud of [her] appearance" as she does following the procedure.

Sculptra for acne scars:

Sculptra before and after

Which of these methods is best for you? Ask your doctor. “There is no one treatment that cures all scars,” says dermatologic surgeon Dr. Sanusi Umar. “There are many variables involved with acne scars such as how much acne, how deep the scars are, skin complexion, or skin sensitivity… Consult with your dermatologist to determine the best option for you.”

Have you ever dealt with acne scars? 

Photo credits: (lead) Harold J. Kaplan, MD; RealSelf member Office Lase; RealSelf member Battlescarred; RealSelf member Jets11; Barry Resnik, MD; Richard Sadove, MD