Face Acne Scars - Best Way to Remove?

What is the best way to remove acne scars on my face? Fraxel, Chemical Peels, or something else?

Doctor Answers 13

Laser resurfacing, possibly a lift

First, I advise my patients to get their acne under control with a good dermatologist. Prior use of Accutane will make the patient more prone to having complications from laser.

Laser resurfacing helps to tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of acne scarring. Fractional laser helps less, and leaves some areas unresurfaced, but has less down time. CO2 laser helps more, but is associated with more down time and prolonged redness, particularly when it is done aggressively. Any laser resurfacing done deeply can cause loss of pigment cells and whiteness which is permanent, or loss of dermal elements, producing a weird, shiny appearance, also to be avoided.

Dermabrasion is an older technique that can "sand" down the skin , making it smoother. There is a technique of superlight dermabrasion done repeatedly, which can also have a beneficial effect on acne without the extended down times of conventional dermabrasion.

Deeper ice pick marks can be removed by direct excision. It is not possible to remove ice pick marks with repeated resurfacing because of the depth of the injury and the limitations of lasers.

In some patients who also have looseness of the skin, tightening procedures such as a facelift can help greatly in additon to the laser resurfacing.

Acne patients should be realistic about their degree of improvement. In most patients with severe acne scarring, it is not possible to remove all signs of acne, just to improve them significantly.

A board certified plastic surgeon can guide you through all these techniques.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 178 reviews

Acne scars -- best way to remove?

  I think that nothing will "remove" acne scars and anyone who says differently is not being truthful.  I think the optimal treatment involves facial resurfacing (which need not require the latest, greatest, most hyped, and most expensive laser since similar results can be obtained by chemical peels) combined with subcission and fillers.  These modalities can offer a tremendous improvement in deep acne scars.  Good luck!

Lawrence Kass, MD
Saint Petersburg Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 134 reviews

More than one option

The best way to treat acne scars really depends on the type of scars you have.

Chemical peels and microdermabrasion may help with lighter scars and with discolored scars. You would need a series of these treatments, probably 4-6 spaced every 2-4 weeks.

For deeper scars you may need stronger, deeper chemical peels or laser resurfacing. You need a treatment that is going to reach to the depth of skin where the problem is. Fraxel is the brand name for a type of laser treatment that treates microscopic colums of skin at a time, leaving untreated areas between each zone and allowing for a faster recovery time. This is called fractional resurfacing and there are several brands of lasers that do this. Fraxel is one brand and there are 2 types of Fraxel: one is gentler but requires more treatments, and the other is a little more aggressive but requires fewer treatments to get results.

With any treatment, you should be sure to practice good skin care and avoid sun exposure. And if you are still having acne trouble, be sure to start treatment so that you can minimize the development of new scars.

Jordana S. Gilman, MD
Washington Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Acne scars

Nothing is perfect for acne scars. Remember acne scars are the result of skin scarring as well subcutaneous fat atrophy. So, it is a multi-modality treatment process. Some lasers can be used on the skin to perform surface changes. Some can treat the deep collagen to lay down new collagen. But, sometimes small fat grafts or facial filles can lift the depressed scar as well. Some doctors will even cut out the old scar all together to bring skin and soft tissue fromt he sides together to remove the depression.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Erbium and CO2 lasers treat acne scars well

Good question. Lasers are a great way to resurface the skin and reduce scars. More specifically, there are two lasers that can achieve this. The Erbium laser is a state-of-the-art laser that resurfaces the skin and reduce scars in under an hour. The results are almost instant, and only about 3-4 days of downtime are required. Another option is the CO2 laser. The CO2 laser penetrates the skin deeper than the Erbium; therefore, the results are a little better, but you would need about 7-10 days of downtime. Also, because this laser is more invasive, you do not need multiple treatments like the Erbium. To achieve the best results for your specific case, consult an experienced specialist with a reputable practice.

Cory Torgerson, MD, PhD, FRCSC
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 151 reviews

Best way to remove Acne Scars

Each individual person is different and requires different treatments. I do a consultation on a patient to determine which treatment is best for them. We offer:Sublative Laser which is effective on all skin types and tones, Sublative rejuvenation is a deeper treatment that fights fine lines and wrinkles, eradicates acne scars, and improves overall texture. Sublative rejuvenation harnesses the power of energy currents to penetrate the skin and stimulate collagen production (while keeping the outer layer of skin intact). Depending on the selected course of treatment, downtime can vary from two to five days—which can be customized to fit your schedule and your needs.Smoothbeam Laser is the only FDA approved laser for treatment of acne on the face and body. Also treats acne scars. This treatment has no pain and no downtime. This is an excellent treatment for hard to treat acne.

Dennis Gross, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.4 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Best Way to Remove Facial Acne Scars

The best way to remove facial acne scars depends on the type of scars that you have - are they red, hyper pigmented, ice - pick.  Different types of scars require different treatments and it is also based on your skin type.  Please consult an experienced dermatologist who treats a great deal of scars.  Best, Dr. Green

Michele S. Green, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Laser treatment for acne scarring

There are a few different lasers that can treat acne scarring.The most commonly used lasers are the Pixel and the Fraxel laser.The Pixel is a one time treatment but has about 7-10 days downtime after, the Fraxel has no downtime but needs to be repeated monthly for a series of 4-6 treatments. For the redness there are other lasers that can be more effective.

Joshua L. Fox, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Acne Scars Treatment

All of the procedures you mentioned can be good options for treating acne scars.  The best treatment will depend on your skin type, degree of scarring, and how aggressive you want to be with treatment.  It is vital to establish a good skin routine to control any current acne to prevent future scarring.  A combination of topical creams, such as the TNS Recovery, and peels or lasers can be very effective at minimizing scarring.  Most procedures require a series of treatments to obtain maximal results.  Our office uses an Erbium:Yag resurfacing laser, which gently targets the top layer of skin for a "laser peel".  Combined with topical treatments, we have seen good results at reducing the appearance of scarring.  

Kent V. Hasen, MD
Naples Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Acne Scars on Face Can Be Effectively Treated With A Number of Solutions

There may be several different treatment options. This will depend on what kind of scars they are. If they have some redness to them then IPL may be a great way to get the redness out. Lasers, Chemical Peels and Dermaroller Micro needling can work wonders on scars when properly treated.  Good luck!

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 179 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.