Can Laser Resurfacing Remove Acne Scars and Dark Marks?

I am 23 years old and suffered with bad acne in my teen years. So far, I don't have anymore acne, I am now left with dark marks, a few blackheads, open pores and oily skin. Can laser help minimize my pores size, remove the black heads and dark marks, and help with the oily skin?

Doctor Answers 18

Yes, Laser Resurfacing can Improve Acne marks and Dark (Pigmented) marks

Dear WannaNewBooty,

All your concerns can be addressed with a combination of laser resurfacing, possibly other laser technology other than resurfacing, and skincare with the proper active ingredients. The recommendation as far as what is the best treatment plan for you should come from a dermatologist specializing in laser treatments. A skilled, experienced expert should have a good range of laser systems so that she/he could choose the one(s) best suited to help you achieve your goal of improving your skin texture, evening out your skin tone and controlling oil production. Best of luck!

Montreal Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Laser Resurfacing for Acne Scars and Dark Marks

An appropriate laser such as the Sciton erbium laser typically can address the following conditions wrinkles, epidermal nevi, acne scars, solar lentigines, actinic keratosis, hypertrophic scars, and surgical scars. It can also be utilized to address enlarged pores and areas of discoloration, while simultaneously promoting collagen growth. More than the laser, you should focus on choosing a reputable, experienced, and expert practitioner who can utilize the correct modality or combination of treatments to address your needs/objectives.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Laser Resurfacing for Acne Scarring

 Laser skin resurfacing uses laser light to target the superficial and deep layers of the skin to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scars, enlarged pores, and areas of discoloration, while simultaneously promoting collagen growth to tighten the skin. I would suggest the Sciton Erbium:Yag laser, which is used in the operating room under anesthesia as it treats the deepest layers of skin. This laser can produce outstanding results for acne scarring, enlarged pores, and irregular skin pigmentation. A thorough consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon is necessary to decide what laser skin resurfacing treatment plan is most suited to address your needs.

Fraxel Dual for Acne Scars

Yes Fraxel Dual can help treat acne scars by fostering the development of normal collagen which would gradually override the thick collagen of the scar tissue.  This laser can also treat pigmentation issues as well. 

Since blackheads are basically a type of blockage in the pores that are caused by overactive oil glands, I would recommend the Spectra laser which removes pore blocks and decreases the activity level of these glands. I've provided a link with more details on this laser. 

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Lasers can help with post acne inflammatory hyperpigmentation and scars

Fraxel Dual can help with both the pigment and scarring but with any laser, there is a risk of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Multiple treatments would be needed usually for scar improvement. Other devices including the Syneron E2, Vbeam, IPL, Portrait plasma may help. Blackheads, or open comedones, do not require laser for treatment but if you are having laser for the other conditions, there may or may not be improvement, long term, with new blackhead formation. Pore size is not guaranteed to change and in rare cases could look more noticable after some laser resurfacing.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Laser works well for acne scars

I like to use a combination of IPL for the pigmentation and the Erbium YAG laser for the acne scars. Unlike resurfacing or using the laser for wrinkles, it is important to use a much deeper setting to improve scarring. For this reason, you should expect around 10 days of scabbing and scaling but after that period, the results are phenomenal and continue to improve over the next 6 weeks. Most people require more than one treatment and some up to 6 treatments.

Acne scars and resurfacing

Acne scars can be improved with laser resurfacing but I would suggest a number of things prior to laser resurfacing for the scars. The indented scars can be improved through either subcision, deep chemical peeling, fat grafting with subcision and excisional (cutting) techinques. There is a unique process that I use for this. Laser resurfacing will be the finishing touch on all of it. For the active acne, I would use salicylic acid cleansers, retin A, 15% alpha beta acid lotions, or series of chemical peels to keep it maintained. I would use oral antibiotics for breakouts and topical anitbiotics for small breakouts.

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Can Laser Resurfacing remove Acne scars and dark marks

For many years, until the 1980-s, Traditional Dermabrasion (wire brush, etc) was used to treat acne scars and was very effective, but quite traumatic.

With the advent of the Traditional Laser Resurfacing technique, Dermabrasion has almost been abandoned.

Traditional Laser Resurfacing is still used by Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons and, depending on the depth of the scars, one or two treatments can be very effective, However, some deep boxcar scars will not respond and have to be teated by punch elevation. Also,  rolling scars are best treated by subcision. Deep Ice Pick scars respond very well to CROS (Chemical Reduction Of  Scars).

For the past  8 years or so, Fractional Laser Resurfacing has become very popular, because it is less traumatic to the patient and requires less downtime. Several treatments are necessary to get close to 80% improvement, if combined with Subcision and CROS.

Make sure you are being treated by an experienced, Board Certified Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon.

For more details, you may visit my website.


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

Laser resurfacing for Acne

Laser resurfacing only helps smooth the very top skin lasers.  Most visible acne scars are deeper and thus laser resurfacing alone is not the answer.  I hope this is not taken maliciously, but if you notice, only the dermatologists who answered your question believe that laser resurfacing for Acne scars is worthwhile.  That is because they are taught to think from the skin surface.  You can read more about my FaSuLa concept for acne scars on my website, but I believe each scar must be properly analyzed for color, width, depth of skin involvement, type of surrounding skin, pore size, and many other factors in order to decide how to maximize the benefit you will receive from any procedure.  Often a series of treatments are needed, each targeting a specific aspect of the scar.  And by the way, to my knowledge no treatment, including laser skin resurfacing, has ever been conclusively proven in a peer-reviewed scientific study to reduce pore size or decrease oil production.

Yoash R. Enzer, MD

Yoash R. Enzer, MD, FACS
Providence Oculoplastic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Lasers Can Help Minimize Acne Scars and Hyperpigmentation

Yes, lasers can help.  For acne scarring the fractional CO2 works well.  The dermaroller also works great. Dark marks? … that depends on what these “dark marks” look like.  I’d have to see your skin to evaluate the quality and condition of your skin. If it is hyperpigmentation from the acne, using a combination of sunscreen, hydroquinone or a skin lightener which is hydroquinone free and Retin-A in the evening is what helps as far as topicals. The Fraxel laser also may help with the pigment. The fractional CO2 may reduce pore size.  Black heads need to be extracted and the consistent use of Retin-A helps those with oily skin. A combination approach is most likely what will serve you best.


Timothy Jochen, MD
Palm Springs Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 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.