Is There an Alternative to Dermabrasion for Acne Scars?

Is dermabrasion still the best method to reduce acne scars? 

Doctor Answers 7

Treatment of acne scars

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Dermabrasion is an excellent technique to resurface the skin and correct some acne scars. Before proceeding, be sure that you are working with a board-certified plastic surgeon who is well experienced in facial surgery and skin resurfacing. Such an expert will be able to determine whether you'd best be served by using dermabrasion, dermal fillers, or surgical procedures such as substitution of a scar or complete excision. Every scar, like every patient is unique. A surgeon who has expertise in all these techniques will help you pick the one that's best in your case.

Dermabrasion for Acne Scars

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Dermabrasion is one component of a vast armamentarium of treatments for acne scars and skin resurfacing. Dermabrasion can acheive contouring of mildly depressed and wide scars on the face and perioral area. It should not be performed concurrently with Accutane treatment.

Acne scars should be individualized and assessed to determine which acne scar procedure works best for the scar.

Alternative to Dermabrasion for Acne Scars

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Microdermabrasion is a waste for deep scars! There, I've said it. Little silicon pellets bounce right off the skin's surface and may cause some slight edema making scars look better for a day or two, but microdermabrasion has no durable effect. For real improvement in scar tissue, we need to get down to the level of the dermis. That can be stronger trichloraceitic acid peels or ablative lasers like the CO2 laser, but microdermabrasion just isn't penetrative enough.

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Alternative to dermabrasion

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  Of course there are many alternatives to dermabrasion as a treatment for deep acne scarring.  Numerous lasers are available, all with their own proponents, as well as medium and deep chemical peel procedures, subcission of deep scars and use of various fillers.  You need to find a doctor who will work with you to help you achieve the desired results.

Lawrence Kass, MD
Saint Petersburg Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 138 reviews

Acne scars still difficult to treat

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Resurfacing options (peels, dermabrasion, laser resurfacing) may all improve the scars a little. Personally, I focus first on options that address the deeper aspect of acne scaring with deep fractional CO2 lasers (i.e., Encore DeepFX) or percutaneous collagen induction therapy (a.k.a. medical needling). I consider resurfacing 2nd tier treatments for acne scaring.

Whatever option you choose, improvements will be moderate at best.

Frank P. Fechner, MD
Worcester Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

TCA peel using CROS technique

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A TCA peel using varying strengths of acids can have remarkable effects through an office procedure that is very cost efficient. Typically, the charges are between $500 and $900 for a 45 minute office procedure. This is a technique that when used properly can be tailored to individual pores and scars, instead of just blanketing the face with multiple laser treatments. Definitely, an underutilized technique.

Various ways to resurface the skin

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There are 3 main ways to resurface the skin and all can be used for acne scars.  Unfortunately, none will totally get rid of the scars.

The 3 techniques are dermabrasion, chemical peels, and lasers.  Different doctors have preferences for each but all can be used for acne scars.

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.